Monday, July 31, 2006


Sarkailo Shakespeare

Cool-‘n’-casual: Strumming a guitar, she’s learning the lyrics of the pop ballad I just called to say I love you. So what if her guy can’t tell the difference between Stevie Wonder and Bori Bunder? Heart-bracingly, there are several such engaging moments. Maan gaye ustad.

Indeed Vishal Bhardwaj’s Omkara is outstandingly crafted, embellished by top calibre performances. And it expertly recreates the ambience of a lawless township in Uttar Pradesh.

The script zeroes in on the dramatis personae of Othello – which has spawned over 30 film versions right from the silent era. Intermittently, Bhardwaj catches the fatalism of Shakespeare’s tragedy, like the time a vulture drops an asp almost into a bride’s lap. Gasp.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Shakespeare in Kabul: After years of a Taliban war on the arts, Afghan theater draws a tentative audience:


The towering mud and straw flanks of Herat's old citadel in western Afghanistan have seen the rise and fall of a thousand years' worth of Central Asian empires. They have protected noble kings, been damaged by bloodthirsty armies and served as a refuge for weary travelers on the Silk Road. But even a building as old as this still has its firsts.
Recently, before an audience of 250, five women on a stage of carpets took off their veils. Ripples went through the crowd. Five years ago, under Taliban rule, Herat's women could scarcely leave their houses. But this evening's event showed that times had changed in Afghanistan. The throng was gathered to watch something that was until very recently unthinkable -- an Afghan performance of Shakespeare's "Love's Labour's Lost," in Dari.