Saturday, May 03, 2008

Memoirs 2002 - Pinky and Me

A play called Pinky and Me was my my first independent attempt in theatre. I came across a few scanned pictures and want to talk about the experience.

Pinky and Me - September 2002

Dramatics at KGP began for me with ETDS - A freshers event with the primary motive of mingling with first year females. The second one was to introduce the enthusiastic kids (facchas) to night-outs and fun-life of kgp. The objective of doing good theatre work was usually relegated to third position. This romance with theatre for me continued for another 3 odd years. Then I discovered I am truly not meant for this art. I quit it then and have been quite happy about the decision.

Pinky and Me happened in my second year. For the play I was the director and voluntarily took no role on stage. I wanted to do a really good job with it!

Script Selection happened a fortnight before the event. This was for English Open-Dramtics. As a contrast to the event's vision, teams were invariably formed from within the same hostel. This was the practice ground for a more crucial Inter-Hostel Dramatics event that ensued after a few weeks. The audience was usually limited to the close circle of the cast and director. They too sometimes politely refused to show up.

Arranging for a judge for this event was one of the toughest tasks for a dramatics secretary. The professor would be subjected to bad theatrical experiments by raw engineers. He would have to sit through all of them (lasting upto 8 hours over 2 days) and also judge their quality. I tip my hat to these professors who still endured it all to keep the spirit alive in the campus.

Casting was the next task. As such finding enthusiasts for a rookie director was hard. I managed to find one good guy (that would be you Sandeep!) and roped in two of my wingmates (Jason and Parthiban). They were completely raw when it came to theatre. So that gave me some obvious standing. I was an ETDS member!

But we also needed female cast members!

You must remember that this was Kharagpur. Around two dozen seeds were sown annually. A few blossomed to full bloom in four. Some were reticent, surfacing only after an year of nurturing. A few never saw the sun in that time. So when it came to selection of our cast, our options came down to two girls. yes. two.

We finally managed to convince Saumya for taking part in our project. I remember the other option was PRB, on whom I had a bleak crush at that time. This factor was also added in the analysis. But Saumya was the victor!

Saumya on stage

The script involved two female characters. Aiming to uphold the virtue of good theatre, I refused to have a male guy playing a female character. That would be sacrilegious! We all decided to deal with it in some other way.

Theatre scripts are subjected to various constraints in kgp. The casting constraint I mentioned above was one of them. Two other problems were time slots and the stage. Budget was always close to zero, one's room inventory serving as props, stage sets etc. Time slots meant that scripts would be brutally chopped / altered to suit the event. I'll be focussing on the alteration bit.

A few days into practice we discovered that the second female part also flirted around with the protagonist. We tried to divest her role, but couldn't afford to do so. And the storyline would be incomplete without her.
And it was impossible to recruit another girl.

So we decided to turn the character into a male gay.

Parthiban - Our fresh gay psychiatrist and Sandeep

Yes, such were the predicaments back then. We had the pyschiatrist hitting on the protagonist with some corny lines. We realized that since we've already burnt the script, we might as well throw in a few comical scenes. So much for sanctity.

The play went off fine. There were a few happy moments after it was over (displayed below). I truly don't remember my reaction to their performance. To Pinky and Me cast - Thank you for the experience. It was totally worth it :)
Clockwise - Parthiban, Sandeep, Jason, me and Saumya

7 comments:

  1. :D - Parthi!! This was totally unknown to me! And the script-burn reminds me of the PH rendition of "She na-na hates me!" :) (or was it some other song?)

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  2. Yes ! We called it the HATE COMBO. Puddle of Mud and Ugly Kid Joe.

    ha ha ... maybe that requires another post!

    (especially the fact that people thought I am singing it with senti!)

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  3. Good to know how you began. warna abhi tak to bas 'ETDS member' se zada kuchh pata hi nahin tha :P

    and srsly ... Parthi and Jason !!!
    must have been crazy fun during the rehearsals :P

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  4. lol! where the hell did u dig this one out from...i remember there were sum slapstick scenes with jason....and the fact that i had a bleak crush on saumya back then didn't help me, a very nervous first timer on stage, one bit....

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  5. ps: i can hardly recognize myself...why do i look so wierd in the last pic...r u sure its me?

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  6. @Sandeep - Way tooo much makeup !!

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  7. so this was your experience before our etds freshers! :D

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