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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Of true independence and tiatr

Yesterday was Independence Day. The common man spent Independence Day sitting in a corner counting his cowries and wondering how he’s going to make it through the year. He cannot believe that dal the poor man’s food is more expensive than chicken, the rich man’s food. August 15 was celebrated with gusto by those who have genuine cause to celebrate – elected representatives and bureaucrats. They were blowing their trumpets and thumping their chests congratulating themselves on being a part of this great nation in its 63rd year of independence.

Of course they have reason to celebrate. They are the only truly independent people in the land. They make the laws. They break the laws. They make new laws to legalize the laws that they broke. They have unlimited funds to stash away for generations of their descendents. Loose change they scatter before their chamchas who spend it like there is no tomorrow.

They are truly free. Answerable to nothing and no one. They feed on the misery of common folk and grow fat on it. Swine Flu is like a beacon of shining hope for them. There’s a lot of money to be made with new infrastructure, expensive testing equipment, medication, awareness programmes. Swine Flu has turned into an industry with the government holding the monopoly.

Then there’s the drought that they are salivating over. Not for nothing did P Sainath write his disturbing book Everybody Loves a Good Drought. But I forget. Elected representatives have fat bank accounts but thin skins when it suits them. They cannot be held accountable so they will not brook criticism or ridicule.

Which is why I was not really surprised to see a dejected Combo de Coimbra one of the greatest tiatrists the world has ever seen, wiping a tear from his eye.

“Why are you wiping a tear from your eye?” I asked Combo.
“My life’s work has come to nothing and it is all the fault of writers like Samir Kelekar,” he said.
“They have written nothing about you,” I said.
“Of course they have! They and you too keep comparing those MLAs and what they do in the Assembly to tiatr,” he said.
“That was just an observation to ridicule them, because they play to the gallery, literally,” I said.
“Tiatr is a noble and pure form of art which has come down through the centuries. How can you make a comparison like that? It’s very upsetting,” he said.
“There’s no need to be upset. We only say that because it looks like they are performing on stage. There are the main actors who ask the questions and the one who answers them, and there are all the other minor actors who have to react to the lines that are said,” I said.
“Tiatr has form and content,” he wailed.
“So too does the Assembly Session,” I said.
“We have music and a live band,” he said.
“Well they have a handful of bandmasters, who play the tune and the others dance to it,” I said.
“We have acts and scenes,” he said.
“They have Question Hour and Zero Hour,” I said.
“We have props and place settings,” he said.
“So do they. They have walkouts too,” I said.
“We have comic interludes,” he said.
“As do they,” I said.
“We have great tiatrists who have come from generations of tiatrists whose children are on stage today,” he said.
“Well they too have players who have come from families of politicians whose children call the shots today,” I said.
“We carry a social message in our tiatr and we spread awareness to our audiences,” he said.
“Ah there you are definitely different,” I said, “They do their best to ruin society and don’t tell the public anything.”
“Also, there’s that other difference,” he said. “No one falls asleep during a genuine tiatr.”
“Ah,” I said, “But you will have competition if the likes of Samir Kelekar are hauled up before the Assembly. There will be fireworks so no one will fall asleep. And awareness will spread like it has never been spread before.”

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