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Monday, September 1, 2014



Interview With Krishna Kumar by Glory Sasikala

How did interest in theatre develop?  When did it all start for you?

I have always been interested in reading and telling stories. Theatre is a perfect place for a story teller. Well, it started in the year 1987. I started writing theatre criticism (in Chennai’s parlance, theatre reviews) for a local evening daily, reporting about amateur tamil theatre in Chennai. My active theatrical foray, as a performing artist, began in 1992.

You have worked with various drama troupes? 

Yes. Virtually with almost all city-based English theatre groups, with some travelling and itinerant national as well as international groups and solo performers.

Tell us more about Masquerade?

Masquerade was begun in 1993. Six of us started it on the lawns of Max Mueller Bhavan. The seeds were sown in the Express Estates MMB campus, the birth was at the Khader Nawaz Khan campus. We have the mainstream Masquerade – the performance group that produces theatre for all audiences, Masquerade Youth Theater that engages and produces theatre of, by and for youth and teen audience, and The Bear and Beanbag Children’s Theater that trains children between 8 and 12 at our own facility as well as outsourced workshops through our several community partners who run after-school, play-school and such facilities in Chennai. Actor training workshops are big essential part of Masquerade’s work.

The best thing that has happened so far?  Any particular incident that you recall?

There are several incidents to recall, all of them having to do with some of the lives we have touched in their youth, through our theatre. At Masquerade, we believe that Theater Must (change lives). But Community First. Towards this end, we try not to be elitist. We try not to price ourselves high whether at our shows or in our workshops. While money does matter, it is not the raison d’etre at Masquerade. We do not consciously try to raise huge amounts of money for shows, we consciously try not to design budget heavy productions and choose scripts that challenge the actor in us and enhance the quality of our human experience rather than pot-boiler entertainers – be it outright comedy or other genres. At Masquerade, we have realised, through the many vicissitudes some of us who have stuck through thick and thin, that we are habitual theatre makers, not professionals in a materialistic sense.

Do you think theatre will survive amidst the other forms of entertainment and hold its own unique position?  Do you think it will continue to draw an audience?

This is a very generic and routine question at least we at Chennai regularly keep asking and going through. The answer is that it has survived. In fact, theatre has never struggled for survival. That is the beauty of amateur theatre. It lives as long as the passion for live performance exists.

The theatre scene in Chennai compared to other places? 

Nothing very different. We all do theatre. In fact, Chennai’s strength is its amateur theatre. Occasional attempts to professionalise goes on. There is always enough room in the pond for one more fish, one more frog and one more turtle!

Chennai as a cultural hub?

Do we ask the Rain if it is Water? CHENNAI IS A SYNONYM FOR ART AND CULTURE. It is a very redundant question to even think of in a context such as Chennai. Do we even need to measure ourselves in terms of Xenophobic culture, western art, oriental cuisine, European writing, Russian Ballet, Spanish tomato festival or Hollywood Oscars? WE ARE!

Your future plans and dreams?

To continue what I am doing. To establish, shortly, a School for Theatre and Drama Studies in Chennai... of course, absolutely for amateur lovers of theatre art!


About Glory Sasikala:

Where breathing, writing, living and loving lose their personal identity and present as one, I come from that land... sometimes letting my pen lead me, sometimes leading my pen…’s a Pied Piper’s tune all the way!

Religiosity and Progress - Part 2

Author: Kerala Varma

Read more on this series: Part 1

I did a bit of research. Not so much research as adding two and two and probably getting four and a half

Let me tabulate my findings.

Most peaceful countries Rank in the Irreligion Index Irreligious %
1 Denmark 283%
8Czech Republic872%
13New Zealand1367%

The peace ranking uses 22 indicators to measure internal peace, including number of police per 100,000 people, levels of perceived criminality, level of organized crime, and external peace indicators that include military expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product and nuclear and heavy weapons capabilities.

(2) Now let's look at the impact of religiosity (or lack of it) on how good a country is.

Good Country Index Rank* Rank in the Irreligion Index Irreligious %
5New Zealand1367%
7United Kingdom676%

*Best countries in the world in terms of contributions to humanity and the planet, in the first ever Good Country Index, which ranks countries by combining 35 separate indicators (from the United Nations, the World Bank and other international institutions) like the size of a country's economy, its global contributions to science and technology, culture, international peace and security, world order, the planet and climate, prosperity and equality, and the health and well-being of humanity.

(3) These are the least religious (or faithless or "kafir" or atheist) countries and how they fare in stuff that matter.
Rank Country Irreligious % HDI Rank Per Capita GDP Rank Literacy%
1 Sweden 88 7 13 99%
2 Denmark 83 15 19 99%
3 China 82 101 93 95%
4 Norway 78 1 4 100%
5 Estonia 78 33 45 99.8%
6 UK 76 26 21 99%
7 France 74 20 23 99%
8 Czech 72 28 37 99%
9 Japan 71 10 22 99%
10 Finland 69 21 24 100%
11 Belgium 68 17 20 99%
12 Australia 67 2 10 96%
13 New Zealand 67 6 30 99%
14 Netherlands 65 4 12 99%
15 Uruguay 64 51 60 98%
16 Cuba 64 59 126 99.8%
17 Luxembourg 64 26 2 100%
18 Hungary 63 37 51 99%
19 Germany 62 5 15 99%
20 Canada 61 11 9 99%

(4) And finally the most religious (God fearing) countries:
Rank Country Irreligious % HDI Rank Per Capita GDP Rank Literacy%
1 India 9 136 133 74.4%
2 Sudan 9 171 145 71.9%
3 Zimbabwe 9 172 90.7%
4 Iran 8 76 78 85%
5 Tanzania 5 152 162 69.4
6 Uganda 5 161 168 66.8%
7 Congo 5 142 128 66.8%
8 Zambia 5 163 160 80.6%
9 Nepal 5 157 167 66%
10 Saudi Arabia 4 57 29 86.6%
11 Pakistan 4 146 140 55%
12 Ghana 4 135 138 71.5%
13 Kenya 3 145 159 87.4%
14 Myanmar 3 149 161 92.7%
15 Nigeria 2 153 143 61.3%
16 Indonesia 1 121 125 90.4%
17 Malawi 1 170 180 74.8%

(5) Moral of the story: God looks after those who are least religious, least god fearing ☺.

About Kerala Varma:

He hails from Chirakkal (Kannur), Kerala, is a former Deputy General Manager of State Bank Of India and lives in Chennai with his wife Chitra. He is an amateur writer, who believes in "simple living, simple thinking", welcoming enrichers of life like love, humour, long walks, the river, sea, mountain, books, music and internet and avoiding complicaters of life like greed, anger, ambition, sentimentalism, sexism, god, rituals, religion and superstitions.


Father And Son by Barun Bajracharya

When will he throw away his toys in the basement? When will he start differentiating between what is right and wrong? When will he grow up? The answers don’t come swiftly for a learning father like me.

“Papa, why do those birds sing early in the morning?” my six years old Christopher Columbus asks me with a hand full of chocolates and a mind full of questions. I put in the picture, “Because they know you don’t have an alarm clock to wake you up for the school.” His dancing eye brows gaze at me as if he knows I’m deceitful.

The questions keep flooding inside my brain. Does our world of reality apply to the mind of a naive child? How do kids broaden their social horizons? How does a negative association with independence affect them? Do they learn from experience or do they rely on instinct? Will a child born in the jungle not play with the jungle toys? Will that child turn into an animal? I want to barge on an expedition across the Milky Way but then I doubt if the answers are playing hide and seek inside my own mind. Either way it is a tough voyage and my questions are my only companions.

 His six years old raw brain questions me, “Papa, why is the sky so blue?”

“Because it’s your darling colour son. You don’t like it? Do you want me to change it to green?”

“No! I don’t like green. Let it be. Let it be.”

“All right, if you say so.”

I wonder which chemical process can elaborate child psychology. Can science describe innate instinct of a small brat? What is the scientific formula of building our morals? Buddha and Hitler were also little monsters once. Is there a technology to track their drastic deviation? How much does intellectual stimulation affect the little ones? Is the human mind always in transition or does it stop somewhere? Does the human development move from social level to individual level? Or is it the other way around? Is childhood a period to search one’s identity or to alter it? I reckon if there is a black box in our brains. If there is, someone please enlighten me how to unlock it.

 “Papa, what is that big thing in the sky? I see it all the time.”

“It’s a flying machine son. The humans call it aeroplane.”

“Like a bird, papa?”

“Hmmm, somewhat like a ten thousand tonne bird.”

“Oh! Really? That will make a good lunch for my whole class,” he answers unpretentiously.

“No, we can’t eat it Sherlock Holmes. That bird feeds on us,” I react with a consciously confused expression.

My learned friend feeds me the intellectual crap, “Psychologists employ empirical techniques to infer causal and co-relational relationships between psychosocial variables. There is psychopharmacology, psychopathology, social psychology, developmental psychology bla bla bla” Ten minutes later, I dissect her methodical blabbering and hit the road. I don’t want the answers she writes in her medical exams. Is there a logical explanation? Is there any explanation at all?

How does a person become a master of one’s mental attitude? The happiness of a child is different from the happiness of an adult. Adults need cash, car, clothes and sex to be in high spirits but a single candy will do for a toddler. Why are their expectations lower? It makes me wonder is it good to grow up or not. Has the journey so far been worth it? I know we have no choice. Aging is stamped in the itinerary of our lives. Everything that was once created must turn into ashes one day. Everything fades away in due course. Is adulthood the beginning of that fading away? Is childhood the utopian world? Is adulthood a fall from disgrace? When are we accurately mature – early days or later life? Can you explain maturity to me? Is there maturity in asking for an ice-cream or asking for a Mercedes from your parents? When you have lust, greed, jealousy, betrayal and hatred in yourself; you don’t look mature to me.

“Papa, why do the stars twinkle at night?”

“Oh! They are just winking at you. They want to tease you.”

“But what are they made of?”

“Atoms. everything is made up of atoms sunny boy.”

“Everything?” he repeats. His eyes are dripping with dreams I know nothing of.

“Yes, everything. Every molecule in the entire universe is made up of tiny atoms,” I reassert.

“Where can I buy some atoms papa?” he asks me with a smiling heart.

“What for?”

“I want to make Mommy.”

“Son, she is with the one who created atom.”

About the author:

Barun Bajracharya, from Katmandu, Nepal, is the author of a short story book, "Sins of Love" and contributing author of six short story anthlogies: Love and Passion, The Truth Beneath The Rose, The Zest of Inklings, You, Me and Zindagi 2, Once Upon A Time, and Samyako Sapana.  Barun works in a USAID project as Communication Officer and he is also an Editor at PEN Point (literary journal). He is also the youngest member of PEN International Nepal Chapter and Traditional Poetry Writers Association of the World. His several poems, short stories, travelogues, haiku, sijo and articles have been published in national dailies and international journals such as The Himalayan Times, The Katmandu Post, PEN Point, Of Nepalese Clay, Wave Magazine, Thematic Literary Magazine, and so on.  In October 2013, he traveled to South Korea to represent Nepal in the general conference of Traditional Poetry Writers Association Of The World, attended by 9 countries, where he earned appreciation for his poems.