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talk Volume 1 | Issue 47 | July 4, 2013 | Rs 10

magazine

PROFILE Shobha Karandlaje: Positive in defeat 3 FIRST PERSON Almost trampled to death by an elephant 7

ROY SINAI

the intelligent bangalorean’’s must-read weekly

FOOD Sattvic restaurants in a chic avatar 16

DOES THEATRE PAY?

Many Bangaloreans now earn a livelihood only from their stage skills—directing, acting, and conducting workshops. That is a dramatic change from the days when, for most enthusiasts, theatre could be nothing more than a hobby. Full-time artistes tell PRACHI SIBAL how they work, live and find fulfilment 10-14


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

mail

Urban farming is a welcome trend in ‘‘Garden City’’ Urban farmers made it to your cover last week. As someone who has lived in a greener Bangalore, I was particularly happy to see the revival of interest in gardening in our city. Most Bangalore homes were characterised by a garden in front, all the way up till the 1980s, when real estate became the all-consuming passion and people started cutting down trees and building rent-earning structures in their place. Exchanging saplings was a part of old Bangalore culture, and conversations between people usually included gardening matters. To bring all this back is not going to be easy, but I am happy a beginning has been made with terrace gardens. I am not so sure about the micro-farms that techies are renting to get a hands-on farming experience. This

may turn out like a picnic for busy city professionals and their children. But then, I do hope the passion for gardening shown by new urban farmers like Aparna George (whom you put on the cover) will inspire many more Bangaloreans to discover their green thumbs. Congratulations, Savie Karnel, for bringing this story to us. MN Krishna by email Amazing story Read the story about movies that changed lives in a recent issue of Talk (Life imitates cinema, Issue 43). I found it an amazing set of stories. Congratulations! Babu Eshwar Prasad Artist (via Facebook) Vijay fan’’s story is inspiring My congratulations to Maria Laveena for her article on actor

Vijay's fan David Raj (Issue 43). It made for excellent reading. Dilip Rajendran via Facebook Saddened by Chandni’’s story I was flipping through some back issues of Talk and came across Basu Megalkeri’’s story, The boy who grew up to be a woman (Issue 16). I was saddened at the ordeal that Chandini suffered. I was moved by her story. Nandini Jay by email Exciting debate The debate about Hinduism and caste caught my attention. SN Balagangadhara is posing some fundamental questions about Western constructs and how they have shaped Indian academia. I will follow the debate with keen interest. Shubha Bhushan by email Write to letters@talkmag.in

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COVER Vivek Madan, actor-director, at the green room of Jagriti Theatre in Whitefield

team talk EDITORIAL

EXECUTIVE TEAM

SR Ramakrishna Editor Prashanth GN Senior Editor Sajai Jose Chief Copy Editor Savie Karnel Principal Correspondent Basu Megalkeri Principal Correspondent Prachi Sibal Senior Features Writer Sandra Fernandes and Maria Laveena Reporters and Copy Editors Anand Kumar K Chief of Design Shridhar G Kulkarni Graphic Designer Ramesh Hunsur Senior Photographer Vivek Arun Graphics Artist

Sumith Kombra Founder, CEO and Publisher Kishore Kumar N Head - Circulation Vinayadathan KV Area Manager - Trade Lokesh KN Sr Executive - Subscriptions Prabhavathi Executive - Circulation Sowmya Kombra Asst Process Manager

Printed and published by Sumith Kombra on behalf of Shakthi Media Ventures India Pvt Ltd - FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore -560025 and printed at Lavanya Mudranalaya, Chamarajpet, Bangalore-560018. Editor: SR Ramakrishna. Editorial Office: FF70, Gold Towers, Residency Road, Bangalore -560025 Email: info@talkmag.in Phone: 08040926658. © All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without permission is prohibited. RNI No.: KARENG/2012/50146


politicospeak

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

RAMESH HUNSUR

Open house with Shobha Karandlaje A candid chat with Karnataka’s most charismatic woman politician—just back from a four-day ordeal in Uttarakhand—on her experiences in the flood-ravaged pilgrim centre, the vagaries of domestic life, and of course, her politics SAVIE KARNEL

savie.karnel@talkmag.in

I EVERYWOMAN Shobha Karandlaje lives in a one bedroom house near Kumara Park

s Shobha Karandlaje being modest or is she trying to build a clean image by leading a simple life? The house she lives in is so bare you won’t expect a major politician to be living there. I followed her directions into a lane in the Kumara Park area—so narrow an auto can barely get there—which led us to an empty plot. I turned back, thinking I had got the wrong address. There was a playschool in the lane, and when we asked the man there if he knew where Shobha Karandlaje lived, he pointed towards a first-floor building. The

47-year-old former minister in the of Yeddyurappa, her political menBS Yeddyurappa cabinet, once tor. After she lost the assembly deemed more influential than many heavyweights, lives in a elections last month, she has been small one-bedroom apartment on travelling in the Himalayas. the first floor of a playschool. “Going to the Himalayas is a fashWith no name plate, and no ion now, isn’t it?” she jokes. After guards or servants, her house is in the election results, she visited startling contrast to the flamboy- Ladakh, Kargil, Drass and Siachen. ant figure she had cut as “I was not part of any government Karnataka’s energy minister just a group. I simply wanted to meet the forces posted there and visit few months ago. She welcomed us, and con- those places. I like travelling and I tinued to talk to an acquaintance have the time now,” she explains. Earlier this month, she had who has come to seek a favour. In an old pink salwar kameez, she gone on the char dhaam pilgrimage to was very much the Uttarakhand, and woman next door. ‘I saw a part of was stranded In one corner of a hill collapse with other pilthe living room grims near stood her on to a vehicle, Rudraprayag. She wardrobe—an burying it’ had reached iron almirah with Dehradun on glass panelled doors (the kind used to store files June 12, and hired a taxi which in government offices), holding would take her to all four shrines. She visited Rudraprayag the next some cotton and silk sarees. Arranged on it are many idols day, and was on her way to of Ganesha and Shiva. “Most are Kedarnath when the rain started. gifts. These two I got from She had planned to get to Andaman,” she says pointing to Kedarnath by noon, and intended the Shiva idols. Staring back at you to spend two days there. “I ignored because monsoon in from among the gods is a portrait it,

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editor talk Bangalore is agog with stories of how elephants strayed into the city and trampled a photojournalist to death. Not many new settlers know that the Bannerghatta area, today a corporate hub, is elephant territory. We live on the fringes of ancient animal habitats. Just a decade ago, villagers would alert visitors to the Bannerghatta national park to the dangers of elephants marching to their watering holes. Earlier this week, thousands of excited people went chasing after an elephant herd in another part of Bangalore. No one stopped them. They beat drums and burst crackers, angering and confusing the animals, which went berserk and killed four men. Ten years ago, Satish Basavaraju narrowly escaped being trampled by a similar herd. He recalls his terrifying experience when he, as novice photojournalist, got too close to the beasts. Today he is a wiser, more cautious professional. Prashanth GN spoke to professional wildlife photographers to understand how they go about their work without harming animals, and risking their own life and limb. Can you make a living from Englishlanguage theatre in Bangalore? Over long conversations, Prachi Sibal gathered insights into the lives of people who have given it all up for theatre. Many talented actors in Kannada theatre gravitate towards television and film, where they achieve fame and earn well. In doing so, they also earn the wrath of their mentors in theatre, who decry their ‘‘lack of commitment’’. English-language theatre is a smaller world, and the money isn’’t great either, but fulltime professionals get by, thanks to workshop opportunities in schools and colleges, and training opportunities in the corporate world. Prachi wrote our cover story impressed by the passion that keeps people in theatre, despite all odds. Satish Acharya is busy with some personal work this week, so Ayyotoons takes a break. It will be back next week. SR Ramakrishna ram@talkmag.in


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Shobha’s take On Modi as BJP's PM candidate When younger leaders come forward, senior leaders like Advani must make way for them and bless them. Modi is prodevelopment. What happened post-Godhra was the immediate reaction to an incident. The courts will decide on it. Look at the 10 years after that. Has any Muslim been harmed in the past decade under Modi's rule in Gujarat? Instead, Modi has developed Gujarat so much that chief ministers from other states are visiting him. But remember, I am no longer in the BJP. I am in the KJP now.

MANMADE DISASTER? Scenes of devastation from Uttarakhand, where the death toll from floods and landslides is in the thousands. Shobha Karandlaje spent four days in that state, and saw a landslide claim three lives

etables and fruits personally before buying. Uttarakhand starts only in July,” she says. As the car got on to the bridges along I either go to supermarkets like Food the Ganga, she was a trifle worried. “Strong World or More, or to the Malleswaram currents were gushing through the river, market,” she says. She has a help who sweeps and mops and the police were instructing people to stay away,” she recalls. Before long, she the house. “She comes at 6 am, and that’s noticed how loose mud and small stones when I wake up. She quickly finishes in were sliding down from the hillside on to half an hour and leaves. I guess that’s the the road. And before long, large boulders maximum time a help spends in a started rolling down. “A part of the hill just Bangalore house,” she says. As for clothes, collapsed and a Tata Sumo behind us was she avoids buying them. “I get so many buried under it. I saw it happen, but could- saris as gifts, so I keep the ones I like and n’t do anything. We couldn’t stop, we had give away the rest. When I’m travelling in to keep moving. Later, I learnt that three the Himalayas or abroad, I prefer wearing people sitting in the front seat had died on jeans,” she said. In the middle of the conversation, her the spot.” Shobha then spent four days waiting phone rang. “Will she do all the chores? I to be evacuated, sleeping in her taxi at don’t want her later to refuse to do certain night and spending the day in the compa- things. She has to help in the kitchen also,” ny of other pilgrims. She called Chief she says into the phone in Kannada, with Minister Siddaramaiah and informed him some Tulu in between. She has been trying to find a help for her she was stranded but safe. younger sister, who has Since she was travel‘Girls are told come from Puttaparti to ling alone, she had carried other people’s Bangalore for treatment. bread, rusk and bananas, “She is pregnant with her which lasted her four days. opinions second child and has some “My bag was in the car matter a lot’ complications,” she said. trunk and safe. Others with Didn’t Shobha ever families had put their bags on the roof of the vehicles, and their stuff think of having a family of her own? “You was drenched in the rain. Whenever there can’t have a successful political career and was a little sunlight, people tried to dry a family at the same time,” she said, their food and sometimes ate water-soaked attributing her rise to power to her being food. The children suffered from diar- single. “I could work for the party only because I had no other commitments. rhoea,” she says. “People were amused that I was on a With a family, your attention is divided.” Born to agriculturist parents in pilgrimage alone. They kept asking, ‘akeli aayi ho?’” Karandlaje says she mingled with Puttur, her entry into politics was marred the crowd and didn’t reveal her identity by objections from her family. “My parents until it was time for her to leave, the roads said girls shouldn’t enter politics,” she recalled. Having been involved with the having been cleared. Even after reaching Bangalore, she Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh since her has been maintaining a low profile, and school days, her joining the BJP was no says she is enjoying her new-found leisure. surprise. After her master’s in social work “As a minister, I never found time for from Roshni Nilaya, Mangalore, she joined myself. Now, I cook my meals and go shop- Manipal Academy of Higher Education, ping for groceries. I prefer to examine veg- where she taught community social work

in 1996. It was when she was there that she became a fulltime BJP worker in Kundapura and campaigned for the party during the assembly elections. Rising high in politics for a single woman is not easy. “There is not only male domination, but also cut-throat competition,” she said. “Politics changes you as a person. You become assertive, aggressive and highly competitive like the people around you.” The worst challenge she has faced is being romantically linked to fellow politicians. This, she says, is the most common tactic used in Indian politics to put down women politicians. “Our society is such that a girl is made to believe what people think of her character is what matters most. In politics, a woman’s character is tarnished to break her psychologically and to force her to withdraw,” she said. Karandlaje has been linked with her colleagues. “I have been linked to other leaders many times. Initially, my family used to feel bad about it. They trust me and know my character, and now it doesn’t bother them. I don’t care about the rumours my opponents spread about me,” she said. Her career demands she travel with male colleagues, sometimes staying overnight, factors which make it easier for people to talk ill of her. “Ask anyone who has worked with me, and they will tell you about my true character,” she said. Political non-entity she might be at the moment, but she still gets her share of people seeking favours. A man came in and asked if she could get something done for him. She signalled to him to sit and continued to talk, but, in his presence, she was no longer her friendly self. She assumed the authoritative demeanour of a powerful politician. Her replies were no longer elaborate, but measured. I take leave, saying I would like to meet her again. She’s sure we will.

On leaving the BJP Loyalty to one's leader is foremost. I am loyal to Yeddyurappa and so resigned as minister and followed him to form the Karnataka Janata Party. Yeddyurappa built the BJP in Karnataka and brought it to power. What did the state BJP leaders give him in return? They labelled him corrupt and pushed him out of the party he had built. On chief ministerial aspirations I don't have any such dreams. I didn't even think that I will be a minister some day. This time I knew contesting from Rajajinagar instead of Yeshwantpur constituency was a risk, but I followed my leader Yeddyurappa's orders. And I will continue to do so. On 2014 parliamentary elections I will never contest parliamentary elections. I will only contest the next assembly elections. On KJP's future KJP was formed just four and a half months before the assembly elections. In this short span, we have won six seats and the percentage of votes was high. It's a good performance. We will contest the parliamentary elections. I will work towards preparing the party for the next assembly elections. On the new Congress government The moment they wake up in the morning, they speak of liquor. We do not want cheaper liquor or more liquor shops. Poor families in rural areas are ruined because of liquor.

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political diary

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Mining lord’s erratic visits leave officials in a tizzy Is something the matter with the other mining baron from Bellary? Yes, going by Infrastructure minister Santosh Lad’s strange new taste for austerity Santosh Lad, Infrastructure and Information Minster, recently paid a surprise visit to KIMS Hospital in Bangalore and lambasted the medical officers for lack of cleanliness. This week he went to Raichur. Lad is an ardent devotee of saint Raghavendra Swamy. He used to frequent the Mantralaya temple, just across the border, by helicopter when he was an MLA. This time, too, circulars went out to Raichur district officials that he would be there for an inspection and meeting. The administration got busy arranging security, and made grand preparations to welcome him. To their surprise, Lad arrived in a

Lad is a mining baron from Sandur in Bellary. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, not to speak of helicopters, and doesn’’t care much for government vehicles. So why did he used a government vehicle to visit the temple? No one knows, but some are saying he had no interest in holding a meeting, and so quietly slipped away without drawing too much attention.

Yeddyurappa hanging Some ministers in the BJP, under the leadership of DB Chandre Gowda, have taken a request to state party president Prahlad Joshi. They want Yeddyurappa, who split from the BJP and formed the KJP, back in the fold.

But Joshi still hasn’’t taken up this issue with the national leaders. Yeddyurappa remains anathema to prominent leaders like Ananth Kumar, Jagadish Shettar, KS Eshwarappa and Prahlad Joshi himself. They fear they will be sidelined if Yeduyurappa is back. So it’’s a stalemate for Yeddyurappa, even though the ascendance of Narendra Modi, with whom he enjoys a good rapport, is good news.

BS Yeddyurappa

SIMPLE LAD What’s behind Santosh Lad’s sudden austerity?

Will Siddaramaiah rice and shine? could be brought down if he introduced the unit system (10 kg for a family with one person, 20 for a family of two, and 30 kg for a family of three or more).

EMPTY HAND Siddaramaiah’s rice dole is based on questionable economics

As soon as Siddaramaiah took oath as chief minister, he announced rice at Re 1 a kilo——and a monthly ration of 30 kg——for each family below the poverty line.

and the media to taunt him. Asked if he would start distribution at least from July 1, he prodded Food and Civil Supplies Minister Dinesh Gundu Rao into action.

He had paid no thought to where he would source the rice, and how he would pay for it. Reality began to sink in soon. He put off the date of distribution.

About 78 lakh families hold BPL cards and the government needs 2.45 lakh tons of rice every month for this scheme. The annual cost of distributing rice is Rs 1,200 crore. Experts advised him the total cost

That was enough for the opposition

Translated by MR Akarsha

Sadananda Gowda, Prabhakar Kore, Murugesh Nirani, Basavaraj Bommai, Umesh Katti, Somanna, and Madhusudan of the BJP are working behind the scenes to bring him back.

government car on Wednesday evening, ahead of the meeting, and rushed to the Raghavendra Swamy temple. After puja, he returned to Bangalore the same evening without informing anybody. District officials kept waiting for him all day on Thursday.

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The centre provides 1.42 lakh tons, and Karnataka faces a shortage of about 1.03 lakh tons. Some 75,000 tons are available at state government warehouses. Siddaramaiah needed only 25,000 tons for July. He is buying this at Rs 27 a kg from Chhattisgarh. By selling at Re 1, the government loses Rs 26 on every kilo it doles out to BPL cardholders. If all goes as planned, Siddaramaiah will launch his rice distribution scheme on July 10. This will help the very poor. The government will also earn a good name. But how will Siddaramaiah weed out the 58 lakh bogus cards, and curb the middlemen?

Minister for Bangalore Bangalore is represented by 28 MLAs and 198 corporators. It is a hub for the real estate, ITBT and travel businesses, and generates more revenue than the rest of the state put together. Ministers in charge of the city often enjoy as much power as the chief minister, if not more. Yeduyurappa had given sweeping powers to ministers Ramalinga Reddy R Ashok and Katta Subramanya Naidu, and each reigned over half of Bangalore. But Katta ended up in jail on corruption charges. Ashok then enjoyed control over all of Bangalore. Currently, the senior-most among Congress MLAs from Bangalore, Ramalinga Reddy, holds the transport minster’’s position. He is also the minister in charge of Bangalore. Dinesh Gundu Rao, KJ George and Krishna Byregowda, who also covet the position, are forced to remain content with just their ministerships. When Talk spoke to Dinesh Gundu Rao, he said, ““Ramalinga Reddy is senior to all of us. He is the most eligible to hold the position. We support him. Our goal is the development of Bangalore. We don’’t have any hard feelings””.

BASU MEGALKERI


political sleaze

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Netas accused in sex scams lie low for now Conviction as a flesh-trade patron has spelled finito to former Italian PM Berlusconi’s political career. Here, in Bangalore, many politicians have wriggled out of sleaze cases, and are waiting for a chance to bounce back

BASU MEGALKERI basavaraju@talkmag.in

F

ormer Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (76) has been sentenced to seven years in jail for misusing his position to get an underage prostitute out of jail, and then paying and sleeping with her. The court has also ruled he cannot hold public office again. What is the fate of Karnataka politicians whose names featured in sex scandals? Talk finds out.

tronics corporation. His extra-marital affair created a furore, and he resigned. In 2010, when Renukacharya was the excise minister in the BJP government, he struck a deal with Jayalakshmi and settled the case out of court. Rumours say he had paid her at least Rs 2 crore. Earlier this year, he tried to enter Vidhana Soudha again, contesting from Honnali in central Karnataka. He lost miserably. Jayalakshmi, meanwhile, appeared in reality show Bigg Boss, and has won a big enough following to attempt a shot at politics.

Nurse hands out intimate pics Minister Halappa is accused featuring Renukacharya of raping his friend’’s wife

BUNGA BUNGLE Former Italian PM Berlusconi has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from holding public office for having sex with under-age prostitute Karima el-Mahroug

On April 20, 2007, a middle-aged nurse called Jayalakshmi called a press conference at the Bangalore Press Club, and Renukacharya handed out intimate pictures of herself and MLA Renukacharya. “We are in a relationship. These pictures are the proof,” she announced. She pulled out copies of a complaint she had filed against Renukacharya with the Chandra Layout police. A BJP-JD(S) coalition government was then in power, and Renukacharya was the chairman of Keonics, the government-run elec-

In November 2009, Hartal Halappa, food and civil supplies minister in BS Yeddyurappa’s government, was accused of rape by H Halappa Chandravati, a friend’s wife. Venkatesha Murthy, Chandravati’s husband, submitted a video clip as evidence. The visual made it to the newspapers and TV channels. Police arrested him six months later, and a court jailed him. The government suffered embarrassment, but, for the record, Yeddyurappa told the media Halappa wasn’t such a bad man. Halappa came

out on bail a little later, pleading on health grounds. The BJP threw him out of the party. In 2013, he joined Yeddyurappa’s KJP. He contested from Soraba, near Shimoga, and lost. Today, Halappa is a defeated man in more ways than one. When Talk called him to ask how the case had affected his career, he said weakly, “Why talk about all that? It’s all over.” He said the trial would be done in about six months, and he would then expose his enemies.

Ministers watch porn as assembly is in session On February 7, 2010, three ministers were caught watching porn when the Karnataka assembly was in progress. A TV cameraman caught them in the act, and the footage made it to national television. Under pressure from its Delhi leaders, the BJP government sacked all three: Co-operatives minister Lakshman Savadi, Ports minister Krishna Palemar and minister for Women and Children CC Patil. A house committee headed by Srishailappa Bidarur went into the details, and declared them innocent. But voters did not forget the incident so easily. When they contested again in 2013, two of the three lost, and are headed towards a political wilderness. Lakshman Savadi has managed to win, and is now a sitting MLA.

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Udupi MLA is caught with a foreign prostitute K Raghupathi Bhat was already notorious after his wife Padmapriya, who had left home with a male friend, allegedly committed suicide in Raghupathi Bhat Delhi. That was in June, 2008. In March this year, ahead of the elections, someone handed to the media a video showing him in action with a foreign prostitute. The video killed all his chances in politics. He did not dare contest, and is now not even a party office-bearer. He has even lost the confidence to stand before people and address them. “Yes, the incident has affected my career,” he told Talk. “Not that the party refused to give me a ticket… the circumstances were such that I could not contest.” He believes his political rivals, unable to defeat him legitimately, used a dirty trick. He hopes the setback is temporary, and he can return as a legislator.

Berlusconi is rich, and a philanderer. Italy's law is so strong he was investigated even when he was the country's prime minister. People defeated him at the polls. In the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky case, the American president paid a price: he was reprimanded by the senate. Here, the police, the politicians and the judiciary hush up things. It's up to the people to teach politicians a lesson.

MC Nanaiah Senior politician, JD(S)

In our country, we always play politics of convenience. If Jaganmohan Reddy surrenders to the Congress, he will be free of all cases. Politicians face temporary setbacks, but sex scandals can't end their careers. Voters forget such incidents.

Ravindra Reshme Journalist who has exposed many scams


first person

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

I closed my eyes and blanked out Photojournalist M Manjunath (23) was trampled to death by a herd of elephants this week. Satish Basavaraju recalls his own narrow escape a decade ago

I

Satish Basavaraju

Senior photographer with Deccan Chronicle

t was 10 years ago. It was April 17, 2003, a date I’ll never forget. I was a 23-year-old photojournalist at the Kannada daily Vijaya Karnataka in Bangalore. One morning, we heard the news that a herd of elephants from Nagarahole National Park had entered Anepalya, a village near Bannerghatta. They had already trampled two people to death on their way. The seniors at my office instructed me to rush to the village and get pictures. We got into a cab and set out at around 10 am, reaching Anepalya three hours later. When we reached the spot, we found hundreds of people standing around. The elephants were hiding inside a eucalyptus grove across the road, and could not be seen. People had covered the grove from three directions. They were beating tins and boxes and bursting crackers, all in an effort to scare the elephants back into the forest. I was excited. It was my first photography assignment involving wildlife, and I wanted to get the most exclusive shots. Reporters and photographers from other publications were also there. We waited patiently for the elephants to come out. All I could think of was the picture I would get, which would be splashed on the newspaper’s front page the next day. When the elephants didn’t come out even after three hours, my patience ran out. I began asking

KEEP OFF The herd of wild elephants that ventured on to Hosur Road recently. The herd killed four people during a five-day rampage, before it was forced back into the forest.

around how I could get close to the stepped on the camera and crushed it herd. Sensing my desperation, a local to pieces. I thought it would step on villager named Balaram volunteered me next. I wanted to scream, but no to take me there. A reporter and a sound came out. I was in shock. As I cameraman from Udaya TV joined us. stared open mouthed, mud and pebWe crossed the road and bles scattered by the stampeding eleapproached the grove, and found our- phants landed in my mouth. They selves just 15 feet from the herd, were so close I did the only thing one which consisted of two calves and can do in such a situation: I simply three adult elephants. The trees gave shut my eyes and covered my head them good cover, which meant I with my hands. I could feel the couldn’t get a clear picture even at ground shake as the elephants ran that distance. Balaram then asked me past me. Their legs were just an inch to climb on to his shoulders. He car- away from my body. And then, I blanked out. ried me while I I opened my eyes clicked away furiI could feel the after 10 or 15 minutes. ously. I looked around and Suddenly, one ground shake saw the elephants of the elephants from the force some distance charged at us. I of their running standing from me. They seemed shouted to tell peaceful and mild now. Balaram about it, and he instantly threw me to the Their mood was totally different from what I had seen just a while ground and took to his heels! The TV channel crew also ran back. With my leg injured, I couldn’t away. I lay on the ground with an injured leg. My camera and bag had run. I didn’t want to either. I was fallen away. Now I could see the ele- scared of being charged at again. phants coming right at me. One Slowly and painfully, I crawled

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towards the road. When I reached there, people who saw me screamed, “He’s alive!” They had all assumed I was dead, and no one had even dared to come and take a look. I was in shock and still could not speak. They poured water on me and brought me to my senses. I later learnt one of the elephants had chased Balaram for a full km on the clear road. It had lifted Balaram with its trunk and flung him 20 feet away. His back had hit a tree and his spinal cord was injured. He is bedridden to this day. Another elephant had chased the Udaya TV staff into the jungle. The reporter and photographer had managed to hide in some bushes and escape. When I entered the grove with the TV reporter, he was properly dressed. At the end of the ordeal, he only had his underwear on. While he was running for his life, he took off his clothes and flung them aside to distract the elephant. He believed the elephant was following him through his smell, and if he threw his clothes away, it would go after the clothes. I still remember the incident clearly. The memory still sends shivers up my spine. I always thought of elephants as mild creatures. I wasn’t afraid of them even when I went close to take their pictures. It was the first time I saw how enraged elephants could be. I still don’t know why they charged at us. People said I might have used the flash. But it was broad daylight and I wasn’t using the flash. The camera was an ordinary reel model, not a long lens camera, which might look intimidating. I was a journalist simply interested in getting a good picture for the paper. I wasn’t a wildlife photographer and had no idea what precautions needed to be taken while shooting wild animals. After the incident, I read up about wildlife photography. I realised many small things must be kept in mind—wearing colours like green to camouflage yourself, and not wearing perfume. When we returned to Bangalore, we saw newspapers had carried reports about what happened to us. Our paper carried the story, with the headline, “When news breakers became news makers.” The BBC also carried a story on the incident. I haven’t covered any other elephant rampage since then. When a circus elephant escaped and strayed on to JC Road in the heart of Bangalore, I shot a few pictures. But that’s about it. (As told to Savie Karnel)


lensman tips

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

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FOOLISH Onlookers who fancy themselves as wildlife photographers, near an elephant herd at Bannerghatta earlier this year

Don’t think you know the animal just because you can take pics Most news and wildlife photographers have no clue about animal behaviour. They slip and die because they refuse to understand the beasts, say experts

The fatal conflict took place when residents tried to “chase” the herd on foot and on bikes, and take pictures on mobile phones. Close to 4,000 people had gathered, and were shouting and screaming. The encounter lasted three to four hours. Manjunath reportedly went close to the herd to take pictures. That was when some of the elephants chased him. Desperate, he climbed a tree, PRASHANTH GN thinking the elephants would go prashanth.gn@talkmag.in away. A tusker just wouldn’t let go. It pulled down the tree, and Manjunath hooting pictures of fell to the ground. The tusker tramwildlife from close quar- pled him. ters can prove fatal. On June 23, M Manjunath, The IBM techie story photojournalist working In January 2012, in a similar incident, for the Kannada daily Vijayavani, was a 35-year-old IBM techie, Jamburu killed by an elephant when he tried to Surappa Ramesh, tried to take phoget close to a herd to get a picture. tographs of wild elephants that had The herd had come into Kolar strayed from the Bannerghatta forest district on Saturday and was headed to a eucalyptus plantation nearby. He towards Hoskote in Bangalore Rural. was trampled to death. A herd of 14 By the time they came here, they had elephants had camped at Mantapa trampled and killed three others. The village. Soon, 1,500 villagers gathered herd of 22 made its way to Harohalli at the plantation. There was commotank near Hoskote on Sunday, when tion. hundreds of people gathered to Ramesh, an amateur wildlife watch. photographer, rushed to the planta-

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tion and started photographing the harassing or causing distress to the herd. He slipped through the bushes animals being photographed.” to take a closer look. One elephant, Responsible photography agitated by the repeated flashlight involves learning about animal pops, went berserk and started chas- behaviour. “It is not advisable for ing him. Ramesh took to his heels, photo journalists to venture into conbut fell after a few yards. His camera flict situations to get photographs, slipped out of his particularly of potenhands and fell to the tially dangerous ani‘Never approach mals such as eleground. Instead of escaping, he turned phants and big cats. a dangerous back to pick up his animal on foot,’ Even an animal feedcamera. Suddenly, ing or moving about says Dattatri the elephant picked calmly in its own envihim up by the trunk ronment can be and threw him towards a tree. unpredictable,” says Dattatri. Another trampled him. He offers some tips: “Learn about wildlife by watching animals quietly. Never provoke, harass or So whose fault was it? The death of the lensmen raises sev- taunt animals. Never approach eral questions. Who was at fault—the potentially dangerous wild animals lensmen, people or the elephants? on foot.” Talk spoke to experts to get an informed perspective. How the pros do it Renowned wildlife photograph- How do the experts shoot for chaner and film-maker Shekar Dattatri nels like Discovery and National says: “Wildlife photography is per- Geographic? What precautions do fectly legal as long as one is not wan- they take? The photographers seem dering around in a protected area so close to their subjects, and yet without a valid permit. It is ethical as manage to be safe. long as it does not involve chasing, Dattatri, who has worked for


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such channels, says: “Professional wildlife explains: “In a context like Bangalore, it is filmmakers even know individual animals advisable never to get near the elephants or groups and are aware of their personali- because they are out of their natural habities, tendencies and temperament. They tat and are enraged. Absolutely no chasing, know how close they can get without dan- throwing stones or bursting crackers. ger to themselves. Amateurs attempting Leave them alone.” This did not happen. this are liable to get hurt A mob was chasing and or even killed.” ‘Anyone close in harassing the lost eleSanctuaries like a stressful phants. Some even threw Nagarahole and Bandipur stones and burst crackers. are safe for photo-shoots context risks A thousand people chasing as long as the photographgetting killed’ elephants, says Bhargav, is er is in a vehicle and an invitation to conflict: behaves sensibly. “Photographing elephants on foot any- elephants will protect themselves, and if where is risky and even more so in conflict- that means getting people out of the way, prone areas such as Bannerghatta in they will. “The IBM techie shouldn’t have gone Bangalore.” near the herd. Anyone that close in a stressful context faces the risk of being Get a 400 mm lens Wildlife conservationist Praveen Bhargav trampled,” he says. of Wildlife First suggests many precautions. “Maintain a distance so that the wild Humans not their prey animal is not aware of your presence and is The first instinct of a wild animal, even the not likely to get agitated. Second, have a leopard, is flight, not fight. But when it is long lens, something more than 400 mm, cornered, the instinct to fight takes over. so you can shoot from a distance. A tele- According to Bhargav, carnivores don’t see photo lens is preferable.” humans as prey. “There is never a case of Most professionals are equipped with indiscriminate attack. But in a situation of high technology photo gear, so they don’t total surprise, an attack may occur. This need to go up too close. As Bhargav aspect of animal behavior is complex.”

Professional photographers are patient, and sometimes wait for years to get a shot. “They spend hours and weeks with animals to photograph just one twitch,” he explains. Bhargav suggests photojournalists associations convene a meeting with wildlife experts to work out shooting strategies: “A professional wildlife photographer will tell them about animal behaviour. Workshops would be useful. Also, the association has to answer the editorial question: what news angle about the wild animal does the photographer want to depict?”

Duty of the newsroom Newsrooms, he suspects, have never convened a meeting of photojournalists and discussed how they should go about their work. “They should spend time on this. It will save lives,” he says. Raman Sukumar, expert on elephant ecology and chairman of the Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, told the media the wild animals should be allowed their space: “There is a good chance they will retreat into the forest. If the herd gets scattered, there is going to be mayhem.” Bhargav has the last word. “The digi-

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Tips and tricks For photographers „ Use a telescopic lens. „ Spend time learning about animal behaviour. „ Wear colours like green to camouflage yourself. „ Learn patience. „ Organise workshops to learn shooting strategies.

For curious onlookers „ Don’’t provoke wild animals in any manner. „ Don’’t throw stones or burst crackers. „ No chasing and screaming. „ Don’’t attempt mobile phone photography. tal camera revolution, the rise of wildlife and news channels, and the intense desire to flaunt one’s skills on social media is spawning a new class of amateur photographers. They don’t know animals. Illinformed adventures are the result. And the mobs only heighten the false excitement.” He believes the animals will leave us alone if we leave them alone.


theatre careers

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RAMESH HUNSUR

Theatre for life

LOCATION: ALLIANCE FRANCAIS

Talk revisits the oft-asked question, ‘Is English-language theatre a viable career option in Bangalore?’ The answer is a conditional yes. Over long chats, artistes bring us the drama of their lives off-stage, and reveal how they make ends meet

PARALLEL WORLD Both Swetanshu Bora and Anshul Pathak quit corporate jobs to take up theatre full-time. They supplement their income by conducting theatre workshops

PRACHI SIBAL

prachi.sibal@talkmag.in

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ime and again, many questions are asked of theatre in this city, or any city for that matter. The most critical one concerns its ability to provide a livelihood for its practitioners, usually people who give up all else for the sake of this art.

It has taken many years, but a tiny bunch of full-time professionals has finally emerged in Bangalore’s English-language theatre. In fact, theatre here thrives on full-time artistes because they are readily available, knowledgeable, and flexible when it comes to rehearsals. Directors admit they opt for full-timers over parttimers, who can’t bring the same commitment and time to the art. And yet, per-show remuneration

for an actor in the city still ranges atre a viable career option?” Instead of exaggerated stories of between Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500. The exceptions are when corporate spon- compromise and struggle, what I got was a glimpse of fairly sorships come into comfortable, if not play, or when actors On average, an complete, lives, burstare paid a lump sum actor gets paid ing with inspiration for the full duration of and passion. The rehearsals. Talk got Rs 1,500 or actors, playwrights down to the basics and less for a show and directors I spoke asked the frequently to took to full-time posed but rarely answered question, “Is full-time the- theatre at different stages in their


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lives, but, not surprisingly, many common threads emerged from their stories. Some of my subjects even warned me—being well aware of the journalist’s penchant for bad news— that their stories may come across as happy, not tumultuous. I conceded, and decided to let them do the talking. All the six whose stories you read here—as well as several others I spoke to—say it is possible to make a living out of theatre, but performances alone are never enough. Well-known actor-director Kirtana Kumar even put a figure to it: Rs 50,000 a month, if you put your theatre skills to use in teaching and conducting workshops. Both playwright and actor Swetanshu Bora and actor Anshul Pathak quit corporate jobs to do theatre full-time, and found that their biggest challenge was to keep themselves occupied as they waited for that call. Having taken the plunge, they also realised that the ‘safety-net’ theory, which requires you to keep a fall-back option handy, is a hoax. They live with few regrets despite the changes in their lifestyle. Most theatre professionals refrain from artistic compromises in their work, and aren’t apologetic about the smaller ones they make to sustain themselves. A majority featured here either live with their families or have emotional support at hand in the city. Their struggles are similar in some ways, although their individual stories might have taken very different twists and turns. But, ask them about the experience of being on stage—‘the zone’ as some refer to it—the very thing that has determined their life choices, and you see nothing less than an expression of rapture. As Bora puts it, “There is something about the stage, the lights and the applause that makes it all worthwhile”.

I have become smarter with the pennies now, something I wasn’t Anshul Pathak, Actor, 32

passions. I knew there was something within me that drew me to such people. I had no He initially experimented with theatre work between October 2010 and January My folks did not understand how freeto help him perform his corporate 2011. lancing functioned, and I had to get away from duties better, but soon found himself home. I ended up backpacking all through using his job to support his theatre November, going from Rajasthan to work. At 29, he quit to explore theatre Dharamshala on a tight budget of Rs 15,000. After I got back, I took off again for a full time. His play, Romeo & Juliet - No short-term workshop with Adishakti theatre Strings Attached is currently in search group in Pondicherry. This was in performance and will be staged at the December and things remained slow until Metro Plus Theatre Festival in August work finally picked up in February 2011. BLT contacted me to conduct a corporate session for them in Pune. I also did summer worky earliest memory related to theatre shops for a school called Magic Cuddles comes from Rewa in Madhya around this time. I feel theatre is not sustainPradesh, where I stayed with my able unless it is used as a tool for something grandmother for a while. I was a kid then, and more than performances. One of the later turning points came had to play a man in a school skit. I remember going around town looking for a moustache. when I watched a performance of Hamlet— Back then, I never thought about theatre seri- The Clown Prince by The Company Theatre, Mumbai. I was moved by it, ously, but the moustache and kept writing to the direcseemed important. I have only a tor Atul Kumar to let me assist My life took a different him in developing his play Piya turn and I didn’t get involved per cent of Behrupiya at his theatre resiin theatre until long after. My regret; I used to dency in Kamshet, near Pune. family moved to Bangalore, splurge before He gave in and I spent a few and I took up computer scimonths there last year. But it ence at Jain College. In 2002, I took up a job as a soft skills trainer at the IT was only after Jagriti Theatre’s One Flew Over company MphasiS, where I spent the next the Cuckoo’s Nest the sameyear that people eight years. It was a colleague who first sug- began noticing me as an actor. Work is scarce sometimes, but I rarely gested holding theatre workshops to aid softskills training. It struck a chord with me and I regret quitting my job. I would say I have only went to Arka Mukhopadhyay of Logos one per cent regret as I was in the habit of splurging back then. I miss doing that, but Theatre group to learn more about it. Soon, I was frustrated with my corporate whenever I think about what my job entailed, job. The bug in me was dying to get out. that I stop feeling bad. I cycle more and use the car was when I took up my first structured theatre workshop under Ratan Thakore of Bangalore rarely. I have stopped buying Little Theatre (BLT). I held on to my job, but clothes and shoes the way I spent the next year working part-time with used to. The only thing from Ratan. By now, it was clear to me that theatre my corporate days that I was more important to me than my job. I can’t give up is my smartknew I had to take the plunge. Theatre people phone. I was passing by I knew would speak of having a “safety net,” my old office recently “cushion money,” a “fall-back mechanism.” and I looked at it with But a friend told me, “That’s just farce. The the same disenchantsafety net doesn’t appear until you have ment that I had walked out of it with. jumped off.” That stuck in my mind. I take care of It took me a year to convince my parents. It was tough to explain to them that my con- expenses at home, tribution to the household would be minimal as that was one of for some time. We have a services background, the conditions put and to such a mindset, living without a job was forth by my family unimaginable. I had saved aggressively for before I jumped three years until I finally quit my job in ship. I spend Rs October 2010, at the age of 29. Coincidentally, 10,000 on that on an around that time, I was meeting a lot of other average. I would say I have people who had quit their jobs to pursue their become financially smarter with the

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pennies now, something I wasn’t when in the corporate job. I have to admit, though, that only 25 per cent of what I earn comes from shows; the rest has to come from training workshops that use theatre techniques in schools and elsewhere. Plays in the city pay Rs 1,000 a show for an actor, on an average. But the amount varies and depends on the directors and the sponsorships involved. For instance, I received Rs 20,000 for a season of BLT’s Tiger Tiger. I don’t go around with a rate card, but I try not to do productions that don’t pay the actors anything. The need of the hour, in my view, is for directors who take their productions places, the way an Atul Kumar does. They travel and sustain a production over a long time, enabling actors to make a decent sum. When I first took up theatre full time, I told my parents I was doing so on trial and would return to a job if it didn’t work out. But, I knew it even then, as I do three years later, that I was never going back. Once, in my initial days, director-actor Vinod Ravindran said to me over a drink, “Anshul, where have you been all this while? Theatre needs people like you!” For me, it is moments like these that make it all worthwhile. The small regret that I experience when I go past a Bose showroom disappears easily when I think of them.


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

What I lacked was imaginative support

Kirtana Kumar, Actor and director, 47 An old hand on the Bangalore stage, she strongly believes in socially relevant theatre. An actor at heart, she found her calling early in life and knew there was no getting away

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heatre, I would say, began early in childhood. It is the sense of play that makes up its essence after all. As children, we climb trees and imagine ourselves to be all kinds of things. I was dying to act and wanted to be part of school plays. But it was always the fair and pretty ones who took away the roles. I remember being part of Snow White where my I played the mirror! There was an American nun in school who perhaps saw something in me, and introduced me to Gnatak, which was then a popular theatre group in town. They used political themes for their plays. I was only 15 or 16 then. After that, I was cast as the lead in a play directed by Jagadish and Arundhati Raja at the age of 18. Kevin Oliver’s Cats came and brought along some travel and singing. I went on to train professionally with a theatre in Los Angeles. The time I faltered was when I did a BSc. I didn’t know it was possible to make a career in theatre, and was performing in plays alongside my course. So, essentially I was studying science in theory and pursuing the arts in practice. It didn’t make sense. I lacked imaginative support. It was when I met Konarak, now my husband, that this changed. He was completely committed to music. Theatre can more than pay your bills, but you certainly have to work towards it. It can take a lot

Swetanshu Bora Playwright and actor, 29 His foray into writing happened with Writer’s Bloc, a playwrights’ festival organised by Mumbai’s Rage Theatre in 2010. In January 2010, his play Once, On That Street opened at Prithvi Theatre and got shortlisted for the Metro Plus Theatre Festival. His third, Pagdi, received a Toto Award and he plans to direct the play for the Bangalore stage

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studied engineering in college and joined work at a startup firm soon after. I was doing some work as an actor alongside but hadn’t considered taking it up full time then. As for the writing, I started early, as early as when I was five. I always wrote in the hope of taking my writing to stage some day. It was back in boarding school, when I was in the fifth grade that I saw a version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest being staged. It was the first play that I ever watched and I was completely taken up by it. I still have such vivid

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of teaching and writing. I don’t know a single person living off performances alone. Sometimes you do have to work towards an amount and there are good months too. With all sorts of work done using theatre as a tool, I would say a qualified person can make as much as Rs 50,000 a month. Things also worked for me as theatre was always the only thing I was doing. I had to find ways to make money out of the skills I had. As for a lifestyle, it was already down under, it couldn’t get worse. We were always drinking at the cheapest pubs and eating at cheap places. We also came from a time, in the 1990s when people were more hedonistic. The college spirit at large was more radical. There were no corporate sponsorships on campus and we were generally a more rebellious lot. It looks harder to break convention now. Also, in the family, both Konarak and I live off art. There are difficult times when we are constantly at loggerheads with each other professionally. There was a play called Wedding Party we worked on together, and it was famously called the divorce party by friends. Every part of our house, with the exception of a couch, was full of people and stuff. We do try and balance out our projects. When Konarak goes abroad, I know I can rest for a while. I do sometimes feel that it is all a miracle that we have managed to live off our passions and raise a daughter while at it. We live normal lives, except we don’t spend on things like clothes; we buy books and music instead. But, when things work on stage and when you are in the zone, it is something else, and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for anything. It feels great when you know people understand what you are trying to say.

I realised the safety net was a hoax

memories. From then on, I tried to become part of school plays, but the best roles were always taken by the cooler ones in class. I also started to write, mostly Agatha Christieinspired stuff that we would rehearse in classrooms and perform at the dorms. I did a lot of theatre in college, Visvesvaraya Technical University. I even directed and produced a one-act play, which won us a competition. After college, I did some improvisation work for Your’s Truly Theatre, following which I auditioned for Dramanon. Dramanon continues to be the major chunk of my work even these days. In 2009, I was in Abhishek Majumdar’s play Harlesden High Street where I had the opportunity of working with Arundhati Nag. It was a milestone. I took the plunge in 2010 and it was more out of frustration than anything else. I thought about it for five long years while I worked and was afraid of not having a safety net. I realised the safety net was a hoax. I was 26 then and had been saving up


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

VIRGINIA RODRIGUES

Artists like to look poor; after all, it would be hard to take an artist in a suit seriously wonder remains, you won’t be disheartened with the stage. But, that’s another story. I studied mathematics and physics, His directorial venture Gasha earned and later, management. I grew up on the him accolades at this year’s META Jawaharlal Nehru University campus in and come from a family that never awards. For his self-created Delhi, insisted on a career. I did do a lot of plays repertoire Indian Ensemble, he used during my years in Delhi University, but every life lesson he learnt, including came to Bangalore with a job as an analyst a software company. On my first day at some from the bakery downstairs at work, we had a workshop with Mahesh Dattani to attend. So, it started there. A year into the job, I was offered two o my mind, theatre begins at the age of five, with make-believe worlds scholarships to study abroad: economics at you create. As long as your sense of Cambridge University, and theatre at the

Abhishek Majumdar

Playwright and director, 32

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for about four months. The transition was difficult as my lifestyle remained the same, but my income had stopped. Now, I can say that my equation with money has changed. I was protective about the bank balance then, but don’t feel attached to it anymore. I would lend money more easily now than I would then. The biggest change was the large amount of time I suddenly had at hand. The initial days at home were excruciating. I am fortunate that I could write, it must be worse for pure actors.

Knowing that I have family in the city helps, it gives me confidence. I shuttle between my parents’ place and the apartment I share with my partner. I moved out of home so I would have that much needed push to pay rent and fend for myself. There are months when I have little left after the rent. I have to do workshops to sustain myself. I also do supper theatre, radio jingles, voiceovers and audio books. No work makes me feel small as long as it fits the larger realm of theatre. It is important to sell yourself,

London School of Performing Arts. I had to choose between the two, but since I had already started writing then, I knew what to pick. When I returned, I wasn’t sure of how it was going to work out for me. I joined Headstart School as a theatre instructor in 2009, and continue to teach there. I have to admit that since then, most of my money has come from teaching. When I first began doing theatre in Bangalore, I could afford to spare very little for rent and had a really small house. But, I would say my poverty was mostly sponsored as I would live with friends who had larger houses all the time. I didn’t have

after all. I am a salesman by day and artist by evening. As an actor, I earn Rs 1,000-1,500 for a show, and some directors pay us lump sums for rehearsals and shows. Sponsored productions bring in a lot more money. For example, THIS, which was sponsored by Airtel, gave us as much as Rs 26,000 for six shows. Smaller things in life change when a steady income goes away. I move around by bus now. Besides being cheaper, I see buses as interesting spaces. I have become

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many expenses. Perhaps the only exception was when this girl I knew, and liked, was to visit me. I asked somebody about the one most essential thing that I must add to my house, and he said, “an electric kettle.” So, I went to Shivajinagar and bought a cheap one so I could make tea at home. Things did go well and she is now my wife. To take up theatre full time is as good or as bad as entrepreneurship. My life would be quite the same if I had started a business. For inspiration, I would look at the bakery below my house. I realised I had more advantages when compared to its owner, who had a shop to look after, a family to feed, and was far less educated than I was. If he could get by, I knew I could, too. I have limited needs and now own a house which I bought by selling some property I had in Delhi. I drive the same two-wheeler I used to when I started out. Many say my bike deserves the Natak Akademi award for having been to more than 500 rehearsals. Before I stopped working, I splurged some of my last month’s salary on a flight from Goa to Bangalore, presuming I will never be able to afford it later on. But, I have travelled more for theatre than I ever did before. The concept of sustainability is driven by social pressure and the idea of social security. Frankly, I could sustain myself through tuitions, too. Also, I think artists like me like to look poor, and there is a certain novelty attached to it. After all, it would be hard to take an artist in a suit seriously. For all the years I have spent doing theatre, I have barely ever planned; the only fixed part is the income from the school. For the rest, my business model has been to wait for a call. I remember the time when I went for a workshop with Ebrahim Alkazi in Delhi. Besides being asked to pay up a certain sum for the workshop, we were also required to produce a payslip or some proof to ascertain we had earned the money we were paying. At the end of the workshop, Alkazi returned the money to us, adding, “Do theatre at your own cost.” That has been my biggest lesson since.

conscious of the places I go out to. I don’t go to a Royal Orchid anymore, and am pickier about restaurants. I want more for my money and avoid trying out eateries. But, when I get on stage, I forget everything. There is something about the lights, the stage and the applause that make every bit worthwhile. Once, a very old lady walked up to me after a show and said she was coming back for the same play the next day. These are the kind of things artists like me live for.


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At times I see things my girlfriend may like, but know I can’t buy Vivek Madan

Director and actor, 31 He has dabbled in nearly every aspect of theatre production, but the stage is still a source of wonderment for him. Nostalgia Brand Chewing Gum, his 2011 directorial venture with Q Theatre Productions, continues to run successfuly in Mumbai

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y first exposure to theatre was the usual; plays in school and college. Being the thin and fair one, I managed to land the soppiest of roles, mostly of mothers-in-law or daughters-in-law. Once, my performance as a daughter-in-law was applauded so much during rehearsals that I was too embarrassed to go back. So, I feigned sickness and missed the actual show. A few years later, I announced, to anyone who was willing to listen, that I was going to take up theatre full-time. A mere 18 then, I dropped out of college to pursue my dream. Some time and some productions later, I took up a job as a copywriter. It being a fairly corporate setup, I was accused of running away to rehearsals and eventually got fired for that reason. That’s when I realised I was not doing justice to either—theatre or the job. Making just enough to serve for pocket money, I took the next big plunge with the launch of Harlequin Productions with two partners. Harlequin would provide end-to-end technical needs for a theatre production. It was accepted well and we were doing quite well, even monetarily, until I decided to abruptly shut it down for no apparent reason than the lack of leadership to sustain such a venture. A long corporate stint followed; the money was steady but the theatre was reduced to a bare minimum. It was a different life. I would be in three different cities in a single week and barely thought twice about picking up the tab when I went out for a drink with friends. Nine years later, the bug bit me again and theatre beckoned. I took up a job at Jagriti theatre in an administrative capacity. However, I continued to act in and direct plays, while being involved in other aspects of the space. It was a big change. Even though my material needs were minimal, I knew I had to be wise with my money and save up, in case I broke a leg, literally. Taking a bus to work and refraining from buying a pair of jeans until the existing one tore out were the smaller changes in my life. As much as I love theatre, I didn’t mind doing a corporate job. I need the balance. And

thankfully, I have the skills to do both. I also recently acted in a Kannada serial, Noorentu Sullu (A hundred and eight lies). It was through somebody I knew, not primarily for the money, but that obviously didn’t hurt. Theatre as a full-time career option is sustainable. It is certainly different from the corporate life and money isn’t free flowing. But I continue to pay the bills at home the way I used to when my parents weren’t living with me. Stage shows in the city can pay anything between Rs 1,000-1,500 a show, but payments vary. Some prefer to pay a lump sum for the entire length of the production. And sometimes, like in the runaway hit, Butter and Mashed Banana, you divide all the money that comes in among the people who were part of the production. In difficult times, there are smaller changes. There have been times when I have lived mostly on coffee and cigarettes, either because I didn’t have the money or I was lazy. When I was a heavy drinker, I would go to the cheaper bars or simply carry a bottle home if I couldn’t afford all that. I may not need much myself, but there are times when I see something that my girlfriend may like and become aware that I can’t buy it. ASHIQA SALVAN & LEKHA NAIDU

After a while, the money doesn’t matter n’t know if I was working or not. In those days, people would assume that someone who does theatre for a living must be walking around Having spent nearly 15 years with a begging bowl. That doesn’t as a freelance actor, belonging happen. It’s true that we don’t have to every other theatre group in cushy jobs and accumulate debts, are good times too. town and calling several his but there The turning point for me came own, his directorial debut when I was working with veteran earlier this year, Somewhat theatre artiste B Jayashree (now a Like a Balloon, won much member of parliament, too). Even minutes spent with her would praise five make a world of difference. I also watched The Odyssey by Footsbarn have spent 15 years as a free- Theatre around that time, and lance actor and have taken a knew I had to be on stage. Other step into direction only recent- work that inspired me includes proby Pondicherry’s ly with a devised performance (a ductions collaborative effort where the script Adishakti. I don’t plan my work around a emerges from the actors themselves). Theatre for me began at a set amount every month. If I did that, I would be later stage in life bored. Work comes though; I wasn’t ‘For a long time, my way and I do doing much of it in everything that I school. I graduated my family find interesting. I in commerce and didn’t know if I don’t stick to a partook up a job in was working’ ticular theatre material logistics at group, but easily HAL. I hadn’t done too much theatre feel a part of most of them. For in college, but later began doing instance, I have worked extensively shows near my house. I took to full- with Rafiki and never felt like it time theatre only when I was 24-25, wasn’t my group. I have done ads and corporate I can’t remember the exact age or moment. But I had stopped going to gigs when I have been short of work at HAL long before that. My money, but not too often. After a boss was co-operative, and would while, the money doesn’t matter. I let me take time off to find my call- could be sitting and having a cup of ing, and return to work if things coffee at a plush hotel one day and drinking tea off a roadside stall the didn’t work out. For a long time, my family did- next, and be equally happy.

Vinod Ravindran

Actor and director, 39

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war of ideas

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Why should scholars work with the binary of colonialism and nationalism? In a Talk essay last week, well-known academic Vivek Dhareshwar highlighted ‘a new research milieu’ exploring the fundamentals of Hinduism, caste and vachana literature. A fellow scholar responds, calling the group’s work ‘superfluous and premature’

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Dr Vijayakumar M Boratti

Assistant Professor of English, University Evening College, Mysore. He writes on literary and cultural issues.

his is in response to Vivek Dhareshwar’s notes on the condition of contemporary research in India and Karnataka (The intellectual excitement is palpable and unprecedented in recent memory, Issue 46). Proposing a rethink of the human sciences, he excitedly advises NOT SO SIMPLE Basavanna (12th century) was a poet and reformer. Vachana literature, Lingayat history, and colonialism don’t lend themselves to simplistic formulations, says Boratti the ‘metropolitan intelligentsia’ to I have strong reservations about influence). pay attention to a research pro3. The Raj was an all-encomgramme initiated by SN how the colonial history of vachanas Balagangadhara’s book The Heathen is studied in the thesis, which is criti- passing cultural power in colonial cal of “Western constructs” and India and Indians were mere mimic in his Blindness... A spin-off of Balu’s Heathen is “Western experience”. It gives the men. Such an approach to the colonial Dunkin Jalki’s thesis on vachanas and impression that researchers of colothe caste system. This is enthusiasti- nial history should adhere to this history of India or Karnataka is simcally endorsed by Dhareshwar as tes- framework, and any non-conformity plistic, sweeping and reducmakes a study ‘stag- tionist, I contend. The timony to the proposals of nant’, ‘vicious’ and research unprecedented My questions to ‘baleful’. If we follow Dhareshwar’s group are research carried out Dhareshwar’s sug- premised on the dichotomy by his own group of Balu and his gestions, we end up of colonialism vs nationalresearchers. group remain drawing the follow- ism, which has come under D h a r e s h w a r ’s unanswered severe criticism from several ing conclusions: claim that only Prof 1. There is a national and international HS Shivaprakash has read Jalki’s thesis is absolutely unwar- unified and homogenised world of scholars. In the thesis on the ranted. I have written a long review of Europeans and Lingayats in the colo- vachanas, this binary is sustained throughout. This helps it declare the the thesis with a focus on its limita- nial and the post-colonial periods. 2. A monolithic colonial power Lingayats were trapped in a web of tions. I have also asked several quesdetermined interactions “vicarious and derivative discourse”. tions to Balu and his group about once their claims, and I have not received between Europeans and Lingayats. But the colonial history of the any convincing answers (Ladai (Dhareshwar conflates colonialism Lingayats and the vachanas does not with Christianity and the European lend itself to such simplistic Prakashana blog, April 21, 2013).

formulations. Before we make any efforts to “reconstruct Indian intellectual traditions” (in the words of Dhareshwar), we Balagangadhara need a comprehensive picture of colonial history in which both Europeans and Indian intellectuals (and not just nationalists) participated. The thesis is inadequate to accomplish this , and fails to take into account the myriad, contradictory and multilayered colonial experience. The theoretical and epistemological proposals of Dhareshwar do not allow us to look into the internal and external fissures, differences and conflicts experienced by Lingayats in the colonial period. My study over the last 15 years makes it clear that Western normative structures predating modern vachana scholarship were ideologically heterogeneous even among Europeans. The Western phenomenon of defining modern Lingayat scholarship/literature was contested, and alternatives were proposed. For instance, the most important pioneer of modern vachana scholarship, Fa Gu Halakatti, was not ready to accept Western constructs about the Lingayats and their literatures. The thesis’ analysis and insights are not as new as Dhareshwar portrays them to be. Some questions it raises are colonial themselves. If we dig into our past, it is clear resolutions to these questions did not always come from within the framework of colonialism or nationalism. By and large, Jalki’s theoretical framework blinds him to the complexities of colonial history. Dhareshwar does not seem sensitive to this problem. Consequently, his research proposals prove superfluous and premature.


food path

talk|27 jun 2013|talkmag.in

From temple fare to SANDRA M FERNANDES

sandramarina.fernandes@talkmag.in

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oosely defined as nutritious food with no ingredients that disturb the equilibrium of body and mind, Sattvic food finds its origin in the ancient Vedas. It is often associated with communities like Jains, Gujaratis, Marwadis and Brahmins at large. In common parlance it also referred to as the yoga diet, using ingredients that instill a sense of peace and well being in an individual. It is light, can be digested easily and is considered to be refreshing and cooling. But, if you thought that sattvic food translated into a bland meal, served only in temples or within the four walls of a religious household, that’s no longer the case. Temple fare has now gone mainstream, and has taken the fine dining route to make its way to your plates. One of best-known examples is The Higher Taste (THT), a fine-dining restaurant that serves only sattvic food, launched by ISCKON temple in 2010. The restaurant is located within the temple complex and serves a variety of North Indian, South Indian, even Continental and Chinese dishes keeping sattvic principles intact. Step inside and reverberating chants of Hare Rama welcome you into a space that can well be described as plush. What comes next, is a large spread of vegetarian fare, hardly the kind you would consider boring or unimaginative. THT’s manager M Kumar says, “We wanted to cater to people who wanted a fine dining experience but keeping with the sattvic tradition. We also wanted to spread awareness amongst people about sattvic food and the principles that govern it, so guests can adapt it in their daily lives.” Demand is clearly on the rise, and there

HAUTE CUISINE Sattvic food is no longer restrained by tradition. It now dons a finedine avatar, and is served at plush outlets in the form of pasta, noodles, and—hold your breath— mocktails!

RAMESH HUNSUR

What is sattvic food? The concept of the sattvic traces its origin to the Samkhya school of Vedic philosophy, which states that all objects and beings have certain ‘‘gunas’’ or defining qualities to them. It classifies these into three: the sattvic, the rajasic and the tamasic, which could be roughly translated as the refined, the dynamic and the inert. The categories, when applied to food, refers to products like cereal grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and fresh milk derivatives like ghee and butter, which according to tradition helps clarify the mind and induce a

sense of equanimity. Rajasic food refers to foods like tomatoes, radishes, carrots etc, as well as caffeinated drinks, which according to this principle, induce restlessness in an individual but are not completely harmful to the body. In other words, they bring neither positive nor a negative effect in the body and can be eaten in moderate amounts. On the other hand, tamasic food items like meat, onion, garlic, mushrooms and fried or canned food are believed to cause aggressiveness and increase the stress levels in an individual.

A FAD TO KEEP Sattvam in Sadashivanagar has a sattvic lunch buffet on weekends that includes Chinese and Continental dishes. (Top) The sattvic lunch buffet spread at Iskcon’s The Higher Taste. At most restaurants serving sattvic food, families following dietary custom form the biggest chunk of the clientele

seem to be an increasing number of takers for ingredients, in many a case they have substitutthe new restaurants serving sattvic food in the ed ingredients completely. Jijimon elaborates, city. What’s more, sattvic meals are now being “We refrain from using any ingredients that served the conventional fine-dining way, with cause harm to the body. Maida is replaced with starters, soups and main course followed by wheat flour, sugar is replaced with palm candy desserts, not the first you would associate with or honey and red chilies are replaced with black peppers or green chilies.” They also serve boiled a sattvic diet. Sattvam, another recent addition to the red rice with their curries, which they say is the sattvic food bandwagon also takes the fine-din- healthier alternative. As important as the freshness of the ingreing route to sattvic fare. The three-month old restaurant, which resembles the regular fine dients is the freshness of the dish itself. Kumar dining restaurant in the city, claims to follow explains how, according to Sattvic principles, sattvic principles to the tee. It offers a wide vari- food cooked is meant to be consumed within ety as part of a buffet menu and their dessert four hours because it is believed to lose its nutritional value after that. To ensure that they counter resembles a regular food table. “Before starting the restaurant we had just comply with this, at THT they prepare food one aim: to increase the acceptance of sattvic twice during the day for their buffet, he says. They may be short on ingredients, but the food. That’s how this came about,” says Arvind Choudhary, director of Sattvam. He says that he new crop of sattvic chefs seem to compensate and his family are devotees of Lord Krishna and for it through innovation. THT offers Chinese try to lead a sattvic life, and wanted others also and continental options like noodles, Schezwan to be a part of it. “So far, we have managed to do curry, pasta and even paan (flavoured) ice cream, something that would be unheard of in that successfully,” he says with pride. Located in Koramangala, Cholayil a traditional sattvic diet. Some of them ,like Sanjeevanam, which initially started as an THT and Sattvam even serve mocktails! As Kumar puts it, “The pasta and noodles Ayurvedic restaurant two years ago, soon added an elaborate a la carte sattvic menu and a lunch are a hit with the kids and are amongst our buffet because of the requests that kept pouring most popular dishes. They simply love them. in from customers. It now offers a wide range of We wanted to show our customers that sattvic food is not just restricted to South Indian delicacies and Indian cuisine but can also be also has some raw veggies in ‘Sattvic food can adapted by others.” its lunch menu. Sattvam too offers at least So how does one describe be adapted by two continental and Chinese sattvic food? “We define it as other cuisines,’ dishes in their buffet menu. anything that is cooked withsays Kumar “Since there is a lot of western out onion, garlic, caffeine, influence in our lives today, peomushrooms, eggs and meat of all kinds, as well as gelatin. It should also be ple look out for variety in food as well. We have spiced mildly,” says Arvind. Sattvic diet can incorporated these dishes because these are include rajasic food items but not the tamasic what customers’ are used to,” says Arvind. The paan ice cream, incidentally, is one of ones, he explains further (see box). Time Traveller, a 24-hour café located in the most popular items on the THT menu, and Electronic City known, is exceptional among was introduced keeping in mind Indian food outlets serving sattvic food given its popularity practices. “Most people in our country like to among the younger crowd. They offer an eclec- finish their meal off with a paan. Since sattvic tic sattvic menu, both ala carte and buffet. The meal prohibits the use of paan leaf or betel nut, cafe not only offers Indian cuisine but also con- we tried to give it a twist and introduced the tinental, Chinese and Morroccan fare—all paan ice cream,” says Kumar. Time Traveller takes sattvic food a step keeping with sattvic principles—round the ahead, from regular fine-dining to plain lavish. clock. Taking sattvic food from the traditional According to senior captain Harish Naik, they settings and putting it into a fine dining restau- have 48 items on the buffet menu; with 12 varirant is no cakewalk. At Sattvam, cooks are eties of salads, soups, 15 varieties of main trained in the new method for at least six course and desserts. “We wanted to offer maximonths before they can cook a complete meal. mum variety to our customers,” he says. Sanjeevanam, on the other hand, believes THT on the other hand, tries out the food in in keeping things simple and offers five differtheir food lab before serving it to the patrons. At Cholayil Sanjeevanam on the other ent types of juices which aid digestion, four hand, a naturopathic doctor is consulted before varieties of raw vegetables and banana fries anything goes up on the lunch buffet. “We con- apart from the main course. Naturally, restaurants serving sattvic food sult a naturopathic doctor who in turn trains our cooks to prepare sattvic meals. Keeping that are a blessing for those who follow the diet as in mind we also have seasonal menus that part of custom. Rudrik Oza, a Gujarati software include season fresh fruits and vegetables avail- professional who has been to both THT and able,” says Jijimon, manager at Cholayil Sattvam, says, “These restaurants are different because they serve authentically sattvic food. Sanjeevanam. Freshness of the ingredients is a priority, Earlier we would eat sattvic food only at home, and in places like THT, each of the dishes is but restaurants like these have increases our made from the scratch. “We do not use the pre- options while eating out.” Families form the sizeable part of the vious day’s ingredients. Everything is prepared in the kitchen including the ice creams on the clientele at places like THT. Kumar says that it is increasingly common for people to celebrate menu,” says Kumar. Not only do they take care to use fresh birthdays and anniversaries in the restaurant.

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“People also consider it auspicious since the restaurant is next to the temple and linked with celebration,” he says. The simple yet fulfilling dining experience offered by a sattvic spread seems to be popular with corporate employees as well. In fact, some of the restaurants have introduced unique packaged meal options to cater to this segment. THT’s corporate sattvic bento box is one such, while Sattvam also offers corporate lunch package options. Another interesting trend is that of conventional vegetarian restaurants opting for a sattvic menu as an add-on. Ramanas and Vriksh restaurant whip up sattvic specialties if a customer asks for it. “Though we do not serve sattvic food per se, we definitely prepare something if our customers (mostly Jains and Gujaratis) ask for it,” says Susheel Nair, owner of Vriksh restaurant. Looks like the sattvic diet has not only made a comeback, but, in its fashionable avatar, is here to say.

Your guide to sattva around town „ The Higher Taste ISCKON Temple Complex, Hare Krishna Hill, West of Chord Road, Rajajinagar Buffet: Weekdays, Rs 425 inclusive of tax and weekends, Rs 490 inclusive of tax (available on all days) For children (between 5- 10 years): Weekdays, Rs 340 and weekends, Rs 390 A la carte: Meal for two, Rs 600 - 800

„ Sattvam 36, 4th and 5th Floor, JM Plaza, Sankey Road, Sadashivanagar Buffet: Available only on weekends, Rs 500 plus tax For children (between 5-10 years): Weekdays, Rs 250 plus tax and weekends, Rs 300 plus tax A la carte: Weekdays, meal for two, Rs 1,200

„ Cholayil Sanjeevanam # 50, 100 feet Road, 2nd Block, Kormangala Lunch Buffet (available on all days): Rs 315 plus tax A la carte: Meal for two, Rs 500 - 800

„ Time Traveller E-Inn Hotel (now Sai Vishram), 144, C/1, Kirloskar Road, Bommasandra Industrial Area, Electronic City Buffet (available on all days): Rs 310 including tax A la carte: Meal for two, Rs 800

„ Ramanas Restaurant HM Geneva House, Next to Fortis Hospital, 14, Cunningham Road Sattvic dishes available on request

„ Vriksh Restaurant No 22, SFS 208, 1st Main Road, Yelahanka New Town Sattvic dishes available on request


prank calls

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Bangalore RJs are cautious, but pranks are still risky The radio jockey who reportedly caused the death of a nurse in London has just won an award, triggering more outrage. Bangalore’s prank show hosts talk about their fears, and reveal how far they would go

tension”. RJ Danish Sait’s Supari on Fever 104, where he puts on many accents, has been on air for three months. He enjoys 3,237 followers on his SoundCloud account. One of his most popular pranks—a fuel station attendant calling up a customer and telling him he filled diesel in the tank of a petrol car—has garnered over two and a half lakh hits on audio sharing site SoundCloud.

When a prank misfires

SANDRA M FERNANDES

sandramarina.fernandes@talkmag.in

I PRANKS PAY (Right) Australian DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig, whose prank call led to nurse Jacintha Saldanha’s death. More recently, Michael won a prize for top RJ

n December 2012, Indian nurse Jacintha Saldhana, working in London, killed herself soon after she received a prank call from a radio station. She was tricked into believing Buckingham Palace was calling her, and unwittingly revealed the sex of the child that Prince William and Kate Middleton were expecting. Mel Greig and Michael Christian, the Australian radio jockeys who worked for the Sydney-based 2Day FM channel, tendered a tearful apology soon after. Their show, Hot 30, went off the air. But two months after he made the call, and once the brouhaha had settled, Michael returned to work. Mel, however, never went back. Michael has just been awarded the ‘next top jock’ prize by his employers, triggering another round of criticism. In India, RJs routinely make prank calls. The prank concept has been around here for more than a decade (Cyrus Broacha used to run a

show on TV called Bakra), but prank calls became popular on radio only after the advent of private FM channels. The government-run All India Radio, which has a history of 83 years, has never pulled a prank on its listeners till date. In Bangalore, radio prank segments have been around for seven years. RJ Prithvi from Radio One is one of the oldest prank callers on the Bangalore airwaves. His shows Birthday Bakra and Trin Trin have won him some laughs, but he has now stopped the latter show because it required him to be rude. “Basically, we are all sadists and like to laugh at another’s cost,” says RJ Rohit of Big FM. His prank segment, No Tension, has been on air for fiveand-a-half years now. He says the idea is to relieve a listener of his or her problems by “giving someone else

Pranks can, and do, go wrong. Rohit has encountered situations where people, especially women, have broken down and cried. “Once I played a prank on a girl and she was in tears. I had to apologise,” he says. Prithvi stopped hosting Trin Trin, where he had to take listeners by surprise and launch a diatribe. “I would pretend I had complaints with them and yell. I got fed up of yelling and stopped,” he says. He had once pranked a girl about to get married. The call didn’t go as expected. “The moment I sensed she was uncomfortable, I stopped,” recalls Prithvi. He asked her if he could air the recording. She refused, and he abandoned it. Danish has had his share of scares. He once received a call from a father who wanted to prank his son. “I pretended to be the principal and called the mother and said her son had copied in the exam. Unfortunately the son was around and she gave the phone to him and asked me to speak to him. I could figure out how scared he was. That’s when I decided to stop the prank,” he says. Victims sometimes get furious, abuse the RJs, and cut the call. But that doesn’t discourage the radio stations. “People love it when I get abused on air. I actually look forward to such moments. This doesn’t hurt me or affect me in any way since I think they are abusing the character I play and not me personally,” says Danish. The moment people sound irritated, Rohit knows a prank has worked. Sometimes people hang up

Prank talk

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Danish Sait D Company Par Supari, Fever 104

How long you have been doing this show? Four months. Best prank call? Once I called a guy named Nalini Ranjan and asked him repeatedly if he was a woman. He got really irritated. Worst call? So many. The moment I get caught it is a bad call, and these never go on air. Signature style? ““Can I please be able to speak to?”” and ““What can we able to do it?”” Don’’ts Never hurt someone’’s ego. Never tread into personal information. Watch out for? I may call Manmohan Singh one day!

Prithvi Birthday Bakra, Radio One

How long you have been doing this show? Seven years Best prank call? I once called a guy bitten by a dog. I convinced him the only way to get better was to bite the dog’’s ear back. I pretended to be calling from the (municipal) corporation and he actually fell for it and said he would locate the dog and bite its ear. Worst call? The ones that do not invite too much laughter. Signature style I can talk like a woman, an old man, with an accent. Don’’ts Never hurt anyone Watch out for? I may call you anytime.


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

even before RJs reveal themselves. “That’s when I call back and tell them this was a prank,” he says. Given the frequency of the prank shows, many people are familiar with the RJs’ voices, and prank calls often fall flat. Some people recognise Prithvi’s voice and call his bluff. “That’s when I look up for another bakra,” he says. Some things the RJs will never do while pulling a prank. “I never play a prank on someone who has been to a hospital and back. I sometimes get requests from guys who want to prank their girlfriends. I completely refuse to do that,” adds Danish. Though there are no hard and fast rules, Prithvi says he knows where to draw the line. “My intention is not to hurt people but to make them laugh at the end of the prank,” he says.

Hundreds of requests The number of prank requests is overwhelming. Rohit receives close to 100 requests every day via email, Facebook and SMS. Prithvi and Danish sometimes find it difficult to choose from the pile of requests. They pick the ones that sound interesting to them personally. Over the years the content and the format of the prank calls have also

which I found funny. He tried his best to irritate me,” she says. Later on, she found out that the prank was requested by her friend.

No pranks on AIR

TRAGIC Jacintha Saldhana was reportredly under treatment for depression when she was pranked

changed. RJs agree the calls have become funnier, nastier and outrageous too at times. “Pranks have no boundaries. They have gone from subtle to outrageous,” Prithvi says. Shiny Alexander, a fashion designer, was recently pranked by Danish and says she found the experience “pretty funny.” “I had no clue it was a prank. Danish called me when I was in Goa and said I had to be in Bangalore for a fashion show. I refused, saying I couldn’t be there at such short notice. He then asked what I was doing in Goa, only eating fish and crab,

While private FM channels encourage this format, FM stations like AIR FM Rainbow strictly refrain from going anywhere near them. N Raghu, Programme Executive of Amrutha Varshini, All India Radio’s classical music channel, says his station’s RJs are told to steer clear of such concepts. “Our motto is the well-being of listeners. We feel pranks affect them adversely,” he says. He personally believes prank shows are market-driven, even unethical. “You can’t take advantage of your not being seen,” he says. “They are aired because people who control this market want such shows, and not the audience.” The prank shows have their critics. “It is not funny because I feel RJs publicly humiliate people. You never know what is going on in the victim’s mind. It’s okay if they create a funny situation, but calling them names is not acceptable,” says Dominic Legori, an IT professional who listens to the radio regularly. Danish made his first prank call when

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he was in Bahrain. “I had picked up the Arab accent. My first prank was where I tried to imitate some Arabs,” he recalls. After that he moved to Dubai, where he worked in another radio station and got to co-host a show with Krithika Rawat, whom he regards as “the mother of all pranksters.” He says he can do the Malayali, American, and Kannada accents well. For Prithvi, the next prank is always on his mind. “Much depends on the victim’s reaction. It has to be spontaneous,” he says.

Prank call sequence

A friend, colleague or relative calls up the RJ and gives details of the intended victim. The RJ builds a plot on the basis of the profile, and makes the call. He impersonates someone, and speaks for eight to ten minutes. He edits it down to two minutes, beeping the expletives and discarding the boring passages. Prank calls are usually aired on the very day of recording.


comic take

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

‘I was just one of the class jokers’

Vidya Balan Actress

‘‘Ghanchakkar destroyed my vanity’’

That’s how Cyrus Broacha describes the origin of his comic career. The popular TV host, writer, and now stand-up comedian, performs in town this week PRACHI SIBAL

prachi.sibal@talkmag.in

C

yrus Broacha shot to fame as a prankster on Bakra, the hugely popular MTV show that set the template for the genre in India. He has since dabbled in theatre and films, and even authored two books, including the 2010 title Karl, Aaj aur Kal. He currently hosts a comedy show, The Week That Wasn’t on CNNIBN. He manages to keep the humour alive even when on an interview call and doesn’t shy away from referring to himself as a “joker.” Excerpts from a telephonic interview ahead of his show: What have you planned for your upcoming show? I am still sitting here trying to figure it out. We’ll make it happen on the spot. But I’d like to think I have a planned show ahead, and maybe that’s what you should say.

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mopolitan crowd a city can have—the city is like the Eden Gardens of comedy. The audience doesn’t get better than it is here. If a show doesn’t work here, then you’d rather just leave the country. What’s the hardest part of being a stand-up comic? Actually, I prefer being called an out-of-work performer. That’s what it actually is, you are out of work and performing. Naturally, I was just one of the class jokers in school. How hard is it to deal with the ‘funny guy’ image in real life? In real life, I cry a lot and have lost all personality. I have been completely domesticated by my wife and all comedy has been systematically thrashed out of my life. Outside, I do meet a lot of people and we have silly conversations together.

You have been a stand-up comic, television host, a writer. What next? At present, I am trying to get Do you try and use local eleanother TV show on air. ments in a show? We do try sometimes, but, Hopefully, the sponsors won’t then again, only a part of the see it until it actually goes on show is actually structured in air and I will be successful. stand-up. Sometimes you also try to avoid local elements; for What do you do when a joke instance, you make fun of falls flat? Delhi in Bangalore and Many of your jokes tend to fall flat on stage. But, I hardly have Bangalore in Delhi. such standards to measure a show. In the larger scheme of What do you think about the things, if the audience is havBangalore audience? Bangalore has the most cos- ing a good time, it works.

There is a common notion that once actresses marry, their career is over. Did things change for you professionally after marriage? Not at all, nothing has changed for me after my marriage. In fact, I have become even more confident about my films. The kind of roles that I’’m getting now are very interesting, and there seems no dearth of them. I’’m doing different movies and am happy with it.

However, I don’t hesitate in making fun of a joke that has fallen flat. I hardly have that kind of ego. Which has been your worst stage show ever? There have been bad shows, ones where corporate clients didn’t know what to expect. But there was this particularly bad show I had in Lucknow where a drunk gentleman came and kissed me. I took months to recover from that.

You made a name for yourself in Bollywood with The Dirty Picture, which you followed up with hits like Kahaani. Are you drawn to women-centric films? I am not looking only at women-centric films. My next release Ghanchakkar (Crazy) is not a woman-centric film in any way. When I choose a script, I ask myself, ‘‘Is this a film that I want to do?’’ ‘‘Is this the story that I want to tell people through my character?’’ If I get a positive answer to these questions, then I agree to do it.

Where do you think stand-up comedy in India is headed? I think it has come a long way in the last few years. More and more comics are coming out of colleges in all cities. More people are accepting stand-up comedy as entertainment. It is a lot better than the way things were in 1998-99. I think we will all continue doing this for the next five or six years and then give it all up. I’m obviously kidding. Do you watch other, especially Indian, stand-up comics? Any favourites? I try not to watch other standup comics, lest I get influenced. I’m more into adult films you see. But, jokes apart, it is not funny for us. You keep thinking, ‘I could have said that!’ Cyrus Broacha Live, presented by Harshin Shah Concept, will be staged on June 30 at Hotel Lalit Ashok

In Ghanchakkar, you play the role of a Punjabi wife who is obsessed with fashion. How did you prepare for this role? It was not very difficult for me since I had put on weight for The Dirty Picture, and didn’’t have to lose it for this one. If The Dirty Picture challenged my vanity, Ghanchakkar completely destroyed it (laughs)! The only preparation was to train myself in the Punjabi accent. Parvez Sheikh, the writer of the film, helped me with the Punjabi diction.

SANDRA M FERNANDES Vidya Balan is best known for her portrayal of Silk Smitha in The Dirty Picture. Some of her other well-known movies include Parineeta, No One Killed Jessica and Kahaani. She was in Bangalore recently to promote her latest film Ghanchakkar, in which she is paired opposite Emraan Hashmi. The film releases on June 28.

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Questions

Reactions, statements, accusations, complaints, or just straight talk—this is where you get them all


grape activity

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

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RAHUL PRAJAPATI

VIN VIN Heritage Wines claims to have cornered 75 per cent of the Bangalore market

Vineyard tours are catching on There’s no better way to spend a lazy Sunday in Bangalore than to go winetasting, discovers Sheila Kumar

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ome days are so typical of our city, Bangalore should take out a patent on them. This Sunday is one such. The sun is playing peek-aboo with the clouds, there’s a small breeze lifting the brims of our sun hats and the air is redolent with the fragrance of ripening grape. I’m standing before a huge bunch of green grapes which hold steady to the vine. And I’m wondering if I should strike a pose from that vineyard movie A Walk in the Clouds. Actually, Bangalore has already witnessed and experienced the first flush of vineyard hysteria. The soil hereabouts being excellent for growing grapes, the next step—of turning grapes into wine—was but inevitable, though it did take some time. But once the business came to the city’s outskirts via a handful of wine makers, there was no looking back. And, even as a splendid selection of reds, whites, roses and sparkling wines were making their debut, Bangaloreans were making it a wholly pleasurable, interactive process. A few years ago, tours of vineyards, wine-tasting trips, a morning spent stomping grapes in a barrel, wine fairs, wine education courses, all were nouvelle entertainment for city denizens and one experience they embraced most happily. Locally made

wines flooded five-star restaurants and the shelves of upmarket departmental stores, and people were glugging it down like it was cola. Le vin, it had arrived. What’s more, wine proved that it was in for the long term. Even as immediate interest in vineyards faded, even as public attention moved onto the next big thing (in-house breweries, in this case) , wine has sustained steady sales in Bangalore. Shiraz, Merlot, Cabernets, sparkling table wines, rose, all continue to find enthusiastic drinkers and records for just the last one year show that 4,05,000 litres have been quaffed in Bangalore. Apparently, red wines score big (55 per cent of sales) followed closely behind by white wines at 40 per cent. A mature approach by the state government in granting wine licenses is another boost factor. What has further helped sales of wine is that this drink goes well when paired with Indian food, despite purists scoffing at the very notion. People have started to cook with wine, join wine clubs, effortlessly make it part of their everyday lives, divesting it of any myth or mystery. Heritage Wines set themselves up in 2004 and have been steadily making their presence felt in and around Bangalore since then. Here at the Heritage vineyard in Channapatna, there are eight acres of land given over to vineyards, the rest comprising the winery and restaurant. The winery is a large barn-like room where the grapes are sorted, pulped, fermented. The free run wine is pumped into huge tanks; the last

steps in the process involve filtration and bottling. People go about their tasks quietly and efficiently, and the bottling, labeling and sealing conveyor belt gleams silver in the soft light coming through the open doors. Back at the wine parlour, we watch a short film on the setting up of the Heritage vineyard and the making of the brand’s wines. Heritage, with a line-up of six wines—Cabernet red wine, Shiraz red wine, Chenin Blanc white wine, Twist bubbly wine, Heritage 2000 premium wine, Heritage sweet red wine—claims to have cornered 75 per cent of Bangalore’s wine market. The wine tasting that follows makes for much fun, given that we become instant poseurs with the wine glasses, studying the glow of colour intently, swirling, sniffing, gargling just a wee bit and in as genteel fashion as possible, tasting but refusing to spit, pinkie held out stiffly all the while. Me, I’ve always been a Philistine (how I asked for dessert wines all over the Napa Valley is a story for another day) so I took quite a shine to the fruit-flavoured Twist and Chenin Blanc rather than the other undoubtedly excellent Heritage dry whites and reds. These are not top-draw wines but if you are looking for light table wines with enough body, then these wines are excellent. The best part of the tour is yet to come. We troop out to the in-house

restaurant Epulo for lunch and sit outside partaking of more wine (but of course) as the dishes come to the table one by one. ‘Epulo’ is feast in Latin and at the end of the meal, I had to agree. The menu lists Continental as well as desi dishes (even a dum biriyani) all cooked to perfection with none of the sauces overwhelming the dish itself. The dessert menu isn’t the most varied but we did have some amazing ice cream. And of course, when we leave the place, it is with cartons of the good stuff they make here at the Heritage Winery. Luckily for aficionados and unpretentious wine drinkers, Heritage wines aren’t too expensive a proposition at all. All in all, a day well spent.

Wine tours near you Heritage Winery A 40-acre vineyard off Mysore Road Call 97417 98666 www.heritagewinery.in

Grover Vineyards

A 410-acre vineyard at the foot of Nandi Hills www. grovervineyards.in

Alpine Wineries A 100-hectare vineyard at T Narasipura, Mysore district Call 40942447 www.alpinewineries.com


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Rewind The week that was Á Kabul attack: A group of Taliban suicide attackers carried out a dramatic attack near the official residence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday, leaving eight of the assailants and three guards dead.

Recording an album? Head to Abbey Road The iconic Abbey Road Studios in the UK is now making the services of its acclaimed sound engineers available online for Indian bands and musicians who want to get their tracks mastered by them. The studio has legendary status in music circles, with such names as Pink Floyd and The Beatles having recorded there, the latter even naming one of their albums after the location of the studio. Now, their mixing and mastering facilities are available at affordable rates thanks to music company Bohemia

Á Berlusconi verdict: A Milan court on Monday found former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi guilty of paying for sex with a minor and abusing his office to cover it up, handing him a seven-year jail sentence and banning him from public office for life. Á Copter crash: Twenty people, including Air Force personnel, were killed when an IAF helicopter engaged in flood relief operations in Uttarakhand crashed in bad weather. As the death toll from the floods mounts, and bodies were found to be decaying, the state conducted mass cremations of victims to prevent an epidemic. Those rescued include nearly 800 pilgrims from Karnataka. Á Kashmir attack: Eight Indian soldiers were killed and thirteen others wounded in an attack on a convoy transporting the soldiers on the outskirts of Srinagar on Monday. Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the ambush, which came a day ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi to the state.

Book train tickets using your mobile

Learn to act for stage and screen

From July 1, you will be able to book your train ticket using your mobile phone. IRCTC now offers two options for using the mobile phone to book tickets; by SMS process or a menubased system at a designated number, which will be announced soon. The system requires passengers to register their mobile numbers with IRCTC and any of their 26 banking partners. The SMS process allows passengers to book their tickets through two SMSes that cost Rs 3 each. There will be no extra charge involved, although banks will charge Rs 5 for any transaction below Rs. 5,000 and Rs 10 for higher amounts. To complement the service, IRCTC is also introducing ‘‘mobile wallet’’ from which the ticket fare and

Chennai-based theatre-group Evam’’s acting course First Rush is back. The two-day workshop provides a platform for aspiring actors to learn the fine art of acting and theatre. The workshop will be followed by a month long rehearsal which will culminate in an on-stage theatrical performance. Evam is an award winning theatre entrepreneurship firm which has the mission of ““futurising India’’s theatre,”” which started off asa theatre group. The workshop will be held at the premises of Atta Galatta book store in Koramangala on July 6 and 7. For more information and to register, you can call 974236267.

its service charge can be deducted. Passengers will have to carry valid photo ID as is standard, though no hard copy of the ticket will be necessary as the confirmation SMS will be valid.

Terribly tiny tales

Petrol pump cheating alert

Á Pak firing: Pakistani troops on Tuesday violated ceasefire for the fourth time this month by opening firing on Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district. Á Elephant trouble: A herd of wild elephants that killed four people in the last four days in Malur and Hoskote talukas strayed into Bangalore on Monday bringing traffic to a halt for several hours on the busy Hosur road.

Junction, the brainchild of Andrew Mackay and Shantanu Hudlikar. The company will offer all of Abbey Road Studios’’ online services to Indian clients, including classical musicians, independent artistes, bands and film crews, with a focus on mastering. While individual budgets for clients are finalised on a caseby-case basis, Hudlikar assures musicians that the process is extremely affordable. Interested bands can contact Bohemia Junction via their official website www.bohemia.st.

A Facebook post by Manish Dubey shows that petrol pump attendants in Bangalore are resorting to ingenious methods to cheat customers. Manish writes: ““Customers are being openly looted at fuel bunks in Bangalore. At the Indian Oil Petrol pump at JP Nagar, I asked for petrol worth Rs 1,000. When the meter had crossed Rs 700,

one of the attendants came with the credit card bill copy to be signed. I moved my eyes from the metre to sign the bill, but a moment later I saw that the display showed Rs 1,000. I was baffled as four litres of petrol cannot be pumped in a second. I challenged the staff and he tried convincing me that it was correct. But, after I insisted, they gave me the receipt from the pump meter, which showed the amount to be just Rs 731. This is a rampant practice at petrol pumps and I would recommend all to be careful. If you suspect anything wrong, please ask for the receipt from the meter (see pic). I’’m taking this up with Indian Oil too.””

It seems even fiction can’’t be brief enough for some people. Terribly Tiny Tales brings together talented writers who write one tweet-sized story every day. They invite readers to contribute a word, and from the daily submissions, their writers will pick a word each of his or her choice, which will then be used as a trigger for a ‘‘tiny tale.’’ The initiative is the brainchild of Mumbaibased storytelling agency Not Like That. To read stories they have come up with so far, log on to their website, www.terriblytinytales.com. They also have a Facebook page and Twitter feed.


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

23

Forward

Where to book your Iyer

Bangaloreans for Uttarakhand A group has come together to help people in flood-devastated Uttarakhand. Members are collecting clothes, utensils, rain coats and umbrellas they will deliver to the hill state. Started by Vijay Grover, senior journalist and founder of Bangalore Organic Store, the group has been active for a week. Those who would like to donate in kind can drop off their material at the group’’s office. For more information, call Grover on 9916106167.

Google’’s people finder: Google’’s Person Finder application has launched an online service which can be used to search for people in Uttarakhand. The app allows users to post information about people who have been rescued. Once you have registered the details of a person, it allows you to request status by SMS. To register, log on to google.org/personfinder/2013uttrakhand-floods

First Book Prize contest open The Shakti Bhatt Foundation is inviting entries for the 2013 Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize. In its sixth year, the prize is a cash award of Rs 1 lakh and a trophy. The foundation has been set up in memory of Shakti Bhatt, a young writer and editor who passed away in Delhi in 2007. The award covers poetry, fiction (including graphic novels), creative non-fiction (travel writing, autobiography, biography, and narrative journalism), and drama. Last year, the prize was won by author-journalist Naresh Fernandes for Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’’s Jazz Age, an account of the city’’s thriving music scene between the 30s and 60s. Books published between June 2012 to June 2013 are eligible for the prize. The winner will be announced in the second half of November and prize presentation will take place in December. Authors from across the subcontinent are eligible, but books must be published in India. Publications must be in English or

Naresh Fernandes

translated into English from an Indian language. Books that have been published elsewhere and have already won prizes are eligible, though less likely to win. Vanity press publications too are ineligible.

The deadline for publishers and authors to send in first books is July 15. There’’s no limit to the number of entries, and each entry must be accompanied by three copies of the book. Entries can be sent to: The Shakti Bhatt Foundation, 8B Main Road, 166/A Sadashivanagar, Bangalore 560 080. For more information, write to shaktibhattprize@gmail.com.

When you first chance upon Book My Iyer (www. bookmyiyer. com), you are convinced it is one of those ingenious spoofs of all things Iyer, most likely the handiwork of a bunch of Iyers themselves. Turns out it is not. As the name indicates (and it is to be taken literally, mind you), this website is for those seeking the services of priests from this Shaivaite Tamil Brahmin community. They offer packages for homams conducted during marriages and housewarming ceremonies, as well as for those meant for conceiving a child or gaining wealth. The website also offers astrology services for matchmaking, career growth and so on. Take a look at the ‘‘Our Team’’ section and meet the priests who help perform the rituals. In fact, they are also ‘‘hiring’’ and invite applications of from experts in performing homams and pujas. If the multiple ‘‘packages’’ don’’t convince you about the site’’s authenticity, their very functional payment gateway is sure to!

The girl who made Emraan blush Actors are known for their stage presence and confidence, but the adulation of some fans can leave the most practised of them speechless. Recently in the city to promote his film Ghanchakkar, Emraan Hashmi was caught off guard when a girl in the audience, who claimed to be his ““biggest fan ever””, stood up and openly professed her love for him during a press meet. The teary-eyed girl then confessed that she has watched all his films 20 times each, and missed her exam to meet him. The usually brash Emraan could not stop blushing, but was courteous enough to tell her she didn’’t have to miss her exams in order to meet him. He later called the girl, who identified herself as Afshaan Syed, a final year degree student in a Bangalore college, over to the stage, where he posed for some pictures, after which she was escorted from the place.

The week ahead  UK snooping impact: UK Human rights group Liberty is taking legal action against the British security services after it was revealed that the UK’’s Government Communications Headquarters too runs a large-scale snooping programme dubbed Tempora, along the lines of the US’’ PRISM.  Snowden flight: US National Security Agency whistle blower Edward Snowden, who left Hong Kong, where he first sought refuge, is believed to be in the Moscow, and is reportedly on his way to Ecuador, via Cuba, where he has been offered asylum.  Mandela critical: Nelson Mandela’’s close family on Tuesday gathered to hear a sombre prayer wishing the anti-apartheid icon a ““peaceful, perfect, end”” as he lay in hospital in a critical condition with life seemingly slipping away.  Musharraf trial: Former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, who ruled the country with an iron fist, is set to face charges of high treason that could carry death penalty or life imprisonment.  UK visa bond: India is expected to take up with the British government the issue of its new visa policy, which stipulates a Rs 2.75 lakh bond for visitors from six ““high-risk”” Afro-Asian countries including India.  Water row: Floodwater outflow from Kabini dam in HD Kote in Mysore could dampen down the rising tempers between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in the Cauvery water sharing dispute.  Road widening: The State government, which is considering widening the 140 km Mysore-Bangalore stretch into six-lane owing to the high density of traffic on the highway, is expected to announce a decision on the matter soon.


OOKtalk

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Interview

SAVIE KARNEL

where sci-fi writers posit such sophisticated technology. To us in India, that’s ancient history! So yes, I think that’s why the Indian mind doesn’t readily accept sci-fi as a genre shok Banker keeps producing itself. Though I have no issues if Vortal bestsellers at such a steady pace Shockwave becomes a runaway bestseller! that some people suspect he is, in reality, an organisation. Among What do you think of sci-fi written in India? the few Indian English authors There is no sci-fi written in India. At least not who were writing popular fiction long before Indian sci-fi. There are many who attempt to it became fashionable or lucrative, Banker is imitate, or aspire to write sci-fi. But it’s sadly now known for his retelling of mythological derivative, self-consciously literary, and moststories. But that’s just one of the many genres ly quite mediocre. I don’t claim to be better: in he has published in. His work ranges from fact, I don’t claim to be writing sci-fi at all. To crime thrillers to literary criticism. He has me, science is only one possible explanation now come up with a science fiction book, for events and phenomena. There is always a Vorpal Shockwave, which he says he thought character in my sci-fi stories or books who up as a teenager. Excerpts from an email insists that there is nothing scientific about what’s happening, it’s all supernatural. To me interview: personally, the journey of the characters is more important than the ideas. In Vortal Why the foray into science fiction? I’ve been writing speculative fiction for most Shockwave, there is science involved, but the of my life, since I finished my first SF novel characters and what they go through is more trilogy at age 15. That was in 1979. I’ve pub- important than the sci-fi elements. lished a few SF, fantasy and horror stories internationally since then, been nominated How was the idea of Vortal Shockwave born? It was a story that came to me for several genre awards, won in my mid-teens, about an a few, been translated into ‘The Indian Indian family separated across several languages. It’s only in multiple parallel worlds. India that my work has been mind doesn’t Again, not an idea, but a story. labelled as mythology or in readily accept I lived with the story for some chain bookstores, sci-fi as a genre’ almost twenty five years Religion and Spirituality before finally starting it in (which is absurd, since it’s clearly fictionalised, but chain bookstores live 1999 and completing it almost ten years later. in their own alternative universe!). So it’s real- This edition is a further revision, thanks to ly a question of applying labels rather than some very perceptive changes suggested by Sayoni Basu at my publisher Duckbill. So I can switching genres. honestly say that this book took me over thirty five years to write! Do you think Indian readers are open to science-fiction? Anyone familiar with our ancient Indian epics Do you think of the new crop of best-selling knows that we have more exciting ideas, tech- mythological fiction is distorting the epics? nology and fantastical scenarios than any Of course, they are. That’s the attraction, dozen sci-fi novels. I think the Indian mind apparently. To me, as someone who grew up associates these tropes and devices with the without awareness or knowledge of Hindu ancient past, as part of reality then. Many culture, mythology or religion, it was the origpeople believe even today that we possessed inal stories that were so attractive. That’s why great technological knowledge and that even in the most fantastical portions of my somehow that knowledge was lost or mis- Ramayana Series I stick firmly to the path of placed. Whereas the sci-fi genre is based on Valmiki in plot, character and dharmic subthe assumption that we are not sufficiently stance. But the books that are selling in lakhs advanced and that’s why it looks to the future are the ones that ignore our puranas com-

‘Indian sci-fi is mediocre and A derivative’

savie.karnel@talkmag.in

Ashok Banker—whose first sci-fi novel is just out—has few kind words for popular Indian English writing, whatever the genre. He explains why he is so disappointed

Excerpt ‘‘No, I mean, when you got up and left your comp just now, where were you? In the loo?’’ He couldn’’t have been out of the room, obviously, because Ruchi and I were standing right here. ‘‘Or the balcony?’’ Though that sounded stupid the minute I said it——why would Mikey go to the balcony? He turned slightly, just enough so I could see a part of his profile. In the light of the monitor he looked a bit less chubby than usual-probably the angle or the light. ‘‘Never got up. Never went any place. Been sitting here for

‘‘Ruchi, when I looked into the room just now ... Mikey ... He wasn’’t there just a minute ago, right? He wasn’’t sitting at his desk, right?’’

the past hour and a half.’’ He paused. ‘‘Since the pizza arrived.’’ He added after a moment: ‘‘Get the door, will you? And get a life.’’ I shut Mikey’’s door slowly. When it clicked softly, Ruchi flinched. I turned and stared at her. I was starting to understand why she was so freaked.

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Duckbill Rs 225

She shook her head. What had she said when I found her in the passage? ‘‘Just now, just this minute. He was sitting there. And then he wasn’’t!’’ And now he was sitting there again. As if he’’d never gotten up at alland he even said he hadn’’t gotten up.

And I didn’’t see why he would be lyingor how he could be lying. I was standing right here when he appeared at his comp, after all. I would have seen or heard something if he had come from the bathroom and sat down at his desk. Which left only one explanation: Mikey had disappeared from his chair, then reappeared moments later. Actually. Excerpted with permission of Duckbill Books


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

pletely and make up their own fantasy versions of our past. I guess for Hindus or Indians in general who have grown up with these ancient stories, it must be refreshing to see such different versions. I personally prefer to read the original Valmiki Ramayana in Sanskrit, which has such beautiful language and so much detail that most people don’t know about even today. But then again, I’m not a reader of mythology bestsellers, just coincidentally, the author of a few! Has your non-Hindu background ever come in the way of your retelling of Hindu mythology? Many people mistakenly assume from my surname that I’m a Parsi (I’m not, the ‘Banker’ surname is a Gujarati name and the only Hindu heritage I have) or that I’m Christian or some other religion. I’m of Dutch-ScotsIrish-Sri Lankan-Goan-Gujarati parentage! That’s confusing enough, but to compound it, I don’t follow any religion—I am not even the least bit spiritual—and my mothertongue is literally English. To most people, this is confusing. As for being hindered, most Indian publishers assume that only a ‘Hindumentalist’ would be writing Hindu epics—which is true of some other authors of mythology, no doubt. So ironically, some socalled liberal editors and publishers refused

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to even read my work because they felt it was genre. Vortal Shockwave actually manages to use some of those elements in a juvenile ‘Hindu.’ Strange, isn’t it? thrillerish way that was really fun to write! You have written crime thrillers as well. What is the idea behind your e-book project? What do you think of the quality of Indian Simple. Making available all the books I’ve writing in this genre, of which there seems written, which are taking years to get pubto be a flood? It’s similar to all genre writing in the country: lished in print or not getting published in derivative. We have yet to see either home- print at all. It’s also meant for readers who grown stories that draw from the local milieu find it hard or impossible to get a copy of one or highly original stylistic works. There’s a lot of my books. But mostly it’s meant for those of pseudo-artsy stuff like the Mumbai Noir who really enjoy my work enough to want to anthology stories by Akashic, which com- read everything I write. pletely bypasses the entire country and restricts itself to a handful of pretentious By putting up your works as e-books even writers writing for each other. But there are before finding a publisher, are you not several good writers who are working in the killing the market for your physical books? genre who are doing honest good work, and I think Paulo Coelho killed that myth long every single one of them just happens to be ago: he was a struggling author unable to sell more than a few tens of thousands of copies female. So that’s highly encouraging. and no western publisher wanted to publish him. So he pirated his own work, set up a What do you enjoy writing the most— website of his own just to get readers to try mythology, crime or sci-fi? Oh, that’s an easy one. Humour is my his writing. Within a few years, his sales had favorite genre. Romance is a close second. I jumped to hundreds of thousands, and then am not a mythology buff, as I said earlier. I do millions. There was no looking back for him. Books are not movies which get pirated read a lot of crime fiction and enjoy writing it too. But, to me, a story has to be suspense- and affect boxoffice sales on the first weekful, funny and have an element of sexual ten- end. The problem with books, as author Cory sion to keep me fully engaged as an author Doctorow put so well, is that we need more and I guess romantic comedy would be that people to read them, not less.

The costume that became a synonym for ‘elephant’ and ‘big’

Jumbo SAVIE KARNEL

savie.karnel@talkmag.in

W

henever elephants stray from the migratory paths and enter villages around Bangalore, the headlines scream about a ‘jumbo invasion’. If the news is not about the elephants going on a rampage, it is about how they died from electric shock. When something is called jumbo, we more often than not think of the pachyderms. But jumbo means more than elephant. How the word originated is a bit confusing. The W first evidence of the term in English is seen in an 1823 work on racing. Here jumbo meant a huge, clumsy person. Etymologists trace its origin to the phrase mumbo-jumbo. The Mandingo people of Africa had a ritual where a man wore a costume which made him seem eight or nine feet high. It was made from the tree bark, and was a long coat, crowned with straw. It was called the Maamajomboo, and was invoked to solve disputes. Similar rituals The Talk can be seen in India column on too, especially on the

Karnataka coast, where a person dressed in a certain costume is believed to be possessed by the spirit of a temple deity. The English corrupted maamajomboo to mumbo-jumbo. It can be seen in a description of the ritual in Francis Moore’s 1738 work, Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa. He writes, “The people also swear by the Mumbo Jumbo; and the oath is esteemed irrevocable.” Since the Europeans dismissed the figure and what it spoke, anything that didn’t make sense came to be known as mumbo-jumbo. Perhaps it is because of this meaning that a large clumsy man was called a jumbo. This usage is seen in only one work, though. It was only in 1865, that jumbo made another appearance again. A young African elephant was brought from Paris to the Royal Zoological Society in London. The superintendent Abraham Bartlett is believed to have named him Jumbo. In his 1950 book Elephant Story: Jumbo and PT Barnum Under the Big Top, Les Harding says “Possibly the superintendent of the zoo… just liked the sound of the word. Bartlett once named a gorilla Mumbo, and after Jumbo departed for America he named a replacement elephant Jingo.” Some believe that a Sudanese handler at the zoo must have combined jumbe, a Swahili word for chief and jambo, meaning

MUMBO & JUMBO Two men in maamajomboo costume, a scene from Senegal

K E Y

O R D S

word origins

hello to form the name Jumbo. Jumbo grew to be 12 feet tall and weighed six tons. Worried that he may be too difficult to handle, the zoo sold him to the Barnum and Bailey’s Circus in 1882. The circus took Jumbo to America where his name became synonymous with anything huge. Thomas Alva Edison named one of his new electric dynamos Jumbo in 1884. The elephant Jumbo was hit by a train and killed in 1885. But his name lived on. In North America, anything that was large came to be known as jumbo. Advertisers used it with anything they

wanted to promote as big. There were jumbo burgers, jumbo sausages and jumbo shrimps. In 1886, there were jumbo cigars too. The term jumbo became popular internationally only in the 1960s when Boeing marketed its aircraft 747 as a jumbo jet. Later, all wide-bodied aircraft came to be known as jumbo jets. We still see ads selling jumbo offers, and jumbo packs. Of course we call elephants jumbo. In Kannada, jamboo savari refers to an elephant ride. Remember the Bollywood animated film starring Akshay Kumar, Jumbo?


L I S T I NGS

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

theatre festival Kids are in for a treat as Ranga Shankara opens its AHA! International Theatre for Children Fest. The 14-day-long festival is dedicated to young theatre enthusiasts. It will have work for children as young as six months old. Â Mimmi and Brumm: The play is about Mimmi, who one day finds out that her father is not well and still in bed. She calls a doctor who luckily arrives instantly and prescribes bed rest as well as a lot of chamomile tea and leaves at once. She brews chamomile tea for Brumm, makes wet packs for him, warms him up with a blanket and sometimes leaves him alone or tells him stories.

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food Directed by Margrit Gysin, it is performed by the Figuren Theater, Switzerland. July 1, 7.30 pm Ranga Shankara, 36/2 8th Cross II Phase, JP Nagar 26493982  Raaja Tantra Choo Mantra The play is about a girl with special powers and about a king who not only makes his people poor but also over taxes them and is constantly at war with his neighbours. The play highlights individuals conquering turmoil outside as well as internally. Will the girl finally overthrow the evil king with her powers? July 2 and July 3, 7.30 pm  Taming of the world:

This puppet show has three episodes that carry the message of love for nature and other creatures. The World Within, the first episode is about a pond where mama fish and papa fish live. An angler walks in and throws a hook in which papa fish gets entangled. Will he get mama fish too? Floral Tribute, the second episode, is about a big green flowering plant. There are many bees and birds around that plant. One day a man comes to pull it down. Does he succeed? Call of The Wild, the third episode is about two cranes who dance on the beach when suddenly a hunter comes there to catch them. July 4, 7.30 pm

 Go Brit, midweek: If you are already suffering from midweek crisis, come and drown your sorrows in cocktails like Aston martini, Austin flower, Earl Grey Martini and dishes like bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, a salt and a battery (fish and chips), banana trifle pudding. All this and more at the British Invasion festival. Monkey Bar, 14/1 Krishna Manere, Wood Street, Richmond Road, Ashok Nagar, Wednesday nights, 7 pm to 11.30 pm 41116878  Monsoon surprise: Sink your teeth into a range of sizzlers this monsoon. Choose from the blackened paneer with Cajun spice, beef skewers, soups, main course like prawn Malacca,

retail therapy

music

 Goodbye cellulite: Worried about cellulite? Opt for anti-cellulite shapewear from Zivame. The collection has high waist briefs, slim tights, anticellulite seamless capris, seamless leggings and slim long leg briefs. Available at www.zivame.com

 Flare up!: Ever since they formed the band, Sonic Flare has seen the times change, but their love for rock music stayed. However, this time, they are here to give you a taste of pop, in their own style. Watch Neeraj Khanna, Nikhil Ponnanna, Priyanka Goswami, Kaushik Nath, Ajit Narayanan and Vinnie Raghavan pay tribute to the music of 80s. CounterCulture, 2D2, 4th Cross Dyavasandra Industrial Area, Whitefield, June 28, 9 pm 41400794

 Tough jeans: For bikers who like to hit the road often, Wrangler introduces their Tough Gear jeans, which are abrasion resistance jeans. Made of cotton denim fabric, they are resistant to tearing while you stay high on adventure. Available at all Wrangler outlets  Luxury at its best: Give your humble abode a touch of luxury as you shop from the new Tulip stores. The store offers bed and bath linen, soft furnishings, beautifully woven fabrics, wallpapers, frescos, exquisite drapery, window dressings, curtains and sophisticated upholstery. Tulips India - Shilton Heights, # 7, Papanna Street, Off St Marks Road

 Circus circus: One of Bangalore’s oldest blues bands, Chronic Blues Circus will perform live this weekend. Watch them play music by JJ Cale to Bob Marley, Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton and more. Terrazzo, 1135, 13th Cross 100 Feet Road, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, June 28, 7.30 pm 9900083822  Go rock and roll: Get your dose of rock and roll this weekend as Girish and The Chronicles take to the stage. Watch them perform some numbers by AC/DC, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Aerosmith and Iron Maiden.

chicken Peruvia, mixed vegetable steak and wash it all down with apple juice. Tangerine Sizzlers & More, No 52, 100ft road, Koramangala 41152679 Â Super combinations: What if you could have brownie, vanilla cake, chocolate fudge, praline and strawberry filling all in one single pie? Well, your prayers have been answered and this is now actually possible with the choco-strawberry crumble pie. Available at all Pizza Hut outlets

The Courtyard, Phoenix Market City, Mahadevpura, Whitefield Road, June 29, 6 pm  Pentagram live: Watch Randolph Correia, Shiraz Bhattacharya, Papal Mane and Vishal Dadlani set the stage on fire this weekend. Pentagram, formed in 1994, is a well known rock and heavy metal band based out of Mumbai with hit numbers like Voice and Bloodywood to their credit. Vishal Dadlani is also well-known Bollywood music composer and one half of the duo Vishal-Shekhar. CounterCulture, 2D2, 4th

 Go European: Treat yourself to some Mediterranean lobsters, French oysters, pastas and the best of vegetables prepared keeping in mind the Europeanleaning palate at this festival called Flavours of Europe. Graze, Vivanta by Taj, Lobby Level, MG Road, till June 29 66604445  Mango delight: Love mangoes? Give into your mango cravings as you choose from mango pastries to panna cotta to cake and more. Sugar N Spice, Vivanta by Taj, Lobby Level, MG Road, till June 30 66604445

Cross Dyavasandra Industrial Area , Whitefield, June 29, 9 pm 41400794 Â Music from the mountains: At this show, lend your ears to Parvaaz, a band that explores music through Kashmiri literature and Urdu poetry. Their music is a mix of blues and rock, with a hint of psychedelia, termed as a blend of nostalgia, history and contemporary urban life. bFlat, 100 Feet Road, Above ING Bank, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, June 28, 8.30 pm 25278361

Pentagram


L I S T I NGS

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

27

plan your weekend

film

Ghanchakkar Whitefield- 7.20 pm  The Heat English FBI agents, Sarah Ashburn and Shannon Mullins can’t stand each other. When they team up to bring down a ruthless drug lord, they become the best of buddies. Directed by Paul Feig, the film stars Sandra Bullock, Mellissa McCarthty and Michael McDonald. Q Cinemas, Whitefield12.45 pm, 7.50

 Ghanchakkar Hindi It is a comedy thriller revolving around Sanju and Neetu, a funny and quirky couple. Sanju specialises in cracking safes and lockers. His wife, on the other hand is loud, boisterous and loves food. Sanju plans to retire from his career in crime, after one last bank robbery for which he teams up with two dangerous criminals. The heist is successful and Sanju is given the task to hide the money till things

cool down. Unfortunately, he suffers from amnesia and forgets where he has hidden the money. Directed by Rajkumar Gupta, it has Emraan Hashmi and Vidya Balan in the lead roles. Rex Theatre- 11.25 am, 2 pm, 4.35, 7.15, 9.55 Vision Cinemas- 10 am, 1 pm, 4, 7, 9.45 Cauvery Theatre, Sankey Road- 11.30 am, 2.30 pm, 6, 9.30 Innovative Multiplex, Marathahalli- 10.45 am, 1.30 7.15, 10 pm Q Cinemas,

games galore

 Game up: You, along with your partner, stand a chance to put up a mighty foosball fight against a team of two at the Blimey Foosball Tournament this weekend. Register with your team mate on the same day and show what it takes to be a foosball champion. Blimey, 5th Floor, 1 MG Mall, June 28, 6.30 pm 9886587930  Brain tease: Challenge your grey matter and be a part of the grand finale of the Chess and Uno Tournament this Saturday. Watch the finalists battle it out in a nerve wracking final as you enjoy your favourite food and beverages alongside. Cuppa Bistro, 80 Feet road Opposite to Indian Oil , Kormangala, June 29

To get your event listed, write to us at listings@talkmag.in

film which has been made in Kannada and Tamil. It is a love story involving a princess. Directed by Roopa Iyer, it has Shriya Saran and Prem Kumar in the lead roles. Tribhuvan- 10.30 am, 1.30

pm, 4.30, 7.30 PVR, Koramangala- 1.05 pm, 3.45, 6.25 Gopalan Mall, Sirsi Circle- 10.30 am, 6.45 pm INOX, Mantri Mall, Malleswaram- 12.55 pm, 6

Chandra

 Hummingbird English Joey an ex-special forces soldier returns to London after serving in Afghanistan. He’s on the run and gets trapped in the city’s criminal underworld. He gets a new identity with the help of a young nun, Sister Cristina. On learning that his girlfriend is killed by a ruthless kingpin, he sets on to get revenge. Directed by Steven Knight, it has Jason Statham, Lee Asquith-Coe and Vicky McClure in the lead. PVR Cinemas, Forum Mall, Koramangala

 Musical evening: Watch the magic of the piano and cello unfold as Srikanth Gnanasekaran performs with Bianca Mendonsa, accompanied by Neville Z Bharucha. The event is being organised by The Majolly Music Trust in association with Theme and Kawai pianos. Entry is by donor passes available at the Trust, and at Theme Piano World. Theme Piano World, 817, Girija, 20th Main Road, Ganapathi Temple Rd, Koramangala 8th Block, June 28, 5.30 pm  Music from the chambers: Treat yourself to the magic of chamber music this Friday, recreated by this trio. Watch Huges Borsarello on the violin, Nicolas Bone on viola and Gauthier Hermann on cello. Alliance Francaise de Bangalore, Thimmaiah Road, Opposite UNI Building, Vasanthnagar, June 28, 7.15 pm 41231345  Melodious habba: Lend your ears to the soulful music of the harmonium. C Ramadass will perform a harmonium solo, along with Bharati Vaishampayan and Pandit Vasant Kanakapur in the morning. In the evening, watch Tanmay Deochake perform with other artistes. Bhartiya Vidya Bhaavan, 43, Racecourse Road, June 30, 9.30 am and 5.30 pm

 Chandra Kannada The film is a fantasy period

theatre  Tuesdays With Morrie: The play is an autobiographical story of Mitch Albom who is a successful journalist driven by his career, and Morrie Schwartz, his former college professor. Both of them are reunited after 16 years when Albom watches his professor Morrie on a TV show and learns that the professor is battling Lou Gehrig's disease. Produced by Mumbai’s popular Akvarious Productions, it is directed by Meera Khurana and has Adhaar Khurana and Akarsh Khurana in the cast. Jagriti Theatre, Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Road, Whitefield, June 28, 8 pm 41248298 Ranga Shankara, 36/2, 8th

Cross, II Phase, JP Nagar, June 29, 7.30 pm and June 30, 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm  Romeo and JulietNo Strings Attached: What happens when four puppets bound by strings playing Romeo and Juliet are let loose? They perform their own version of the Shakespeare play with modern references and tonguein-cheek humour. The puppets here are actually actors using strings to play the part. Music, infused into the narrative by city-based Chris Avinash also

forms an important part of the play. Directed by Prashanth Nair, it has Shashank Purushotham, Anshul Pathak, Rijul Ray, Chris Avinash and Kalyani Nair in the cast. Jagriti Theatre, Ramagondanahalli, Varthur Road, Whitefield, June 29, 8 pm and June 30, 3 pm, and 6.30 pm 41248298

 A Walk in the Woods: The play is an adaptation of Lee Blessing's work by the same name. The original is a conversation between a Russian and American diplomat along the sidelines of a peace talk in Geneva. The Indian adaptation shows a Pakistani and an Indian diplomat having a frank conversation and walking in the woods amidst peace negotiations. From the conversation emerge moments of humour and subtle tension. Produced by Motley Theatre and directed by Ratna Pathak Shah, it has Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapur in the cast. Chowdaiah Memorial Hall, 16th Cross, G.D. Park Extension, 2nd

Main Road, Malleswaram, July 4, 7.30 pm  Laughter galore: Laughter is the best medicine and to make sure you get it the right amount Vipul Goyal will be performing this weekend. An IIT Bombay graduate and retail analyst turned stand-up comic he is known to perform in Hindi, English, Java and C++. He has performed at colleges, corporate and entrepreneur summits too. The evening will be hosted by Praveen Kumar. bFlat, 100 Feet Road, Above ING Bank, HAL 2nd Stage, Indiranagar, June 29, 8.30 pm 25278361

Romeo and Juliet - No Strings Attached


talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

28

Budo

Q&A The first in a series where Sensei Avinash Subramanyam answers questions on life, relationships and more

I am a partner in a company owned by my best friend but there is nothing stated in writing. Lately, I have been feeling insecure: what if he betrays me. What should I do? In true friendship, you don’t sign agreements. Signing implies there’s doubt and that is not true friendship. If your friend wants to keep the company for himself, you should happily give it away. If a true friend, you will not doubt your friend’s intentions. If you think the relationship is dependent on receivables then don’t say you’re in partnership with a ‘best friend’; call him a ‘colleague’ or a ‘business friend’. If you doubt the intentions of your friend, you will definitely face the consequences because your negative energy will destroy the friendship. I’m saying this keeping in mind that you are best friends and knowing fully well that I’m talking about friendship in a way that may sound idealistic. But this is the truth.

POSITIVE FOCUS (In pic) World champion sprinter Usain Bolt. People who accomplish impossible feats avoid negative thought

How to nurture friendship and love, given that so many things can vary between two people: education, strength, looks, charisma? Friendship and love are the two most valuable forms of human relationships. I imagine you are talking about nurturing a particular friendship or love rather than love for humankind or all beings? Whether in love or friendship, there’s a point when you think, “this is my friend”. At this time take a decision that whatever happens you will not break the friendship or love, or reduce its intensity. It’s only natural that over time you will have disagreements and disputes. Make the friendship or love independent of all likes and dislikes. It’s like the unconditional love that a parent gives to a child; it is never judgmental. When in love, always keep in mind why you fell in

love. Love for the joy of love, let nothing else a friend who thought highly of my martial art abilities. Later, when he no longer felt the matter. same affection, he repeatedly tried to provoke I used to look up to this person as my guide. But me, saying my martial arts was bad. Instead of reacting, I agreed. He stopped the provocaI don’t feel that way any longer. What should I tion after some time. I told myself: Let him say do? How do I tell him? Unless a mentor is capable of understanding what he wants, I won’t let it bother me. After the universe, he or she gives advice based on all, he’s destroying his life, and not mine, with opinion. If you find such advice unsuitable to his negativity. Important: Don’t waste time on your life now, don’t take it. A mentor is one others’ negativity; ignore it. Avoid contact who gives advice when asked for. He must be with such people. Every bit of negativity eats accepted by you. He shouldn’t expect to be a away at your happiness like a parasite. mentor for life. You don’t have to feel bad or guilty. Why should you even explain? Don’t How to choose the right clothes and shoes? give more value to the situation than it Whether shoes or clothes, understand what suits you best. Never buy into a brand, a brand deserves. should become you. Buy what suits your temLife is uncertain. How do I overcome the fear of perament and purpose. Choose a balance of colour, appeal and purpose. A shoe should what is to come? Do what you have to do in life. Don’t think mould your feet well. You know it’s good if about uncertainties. Uncertainties exist only you don’t feel like removing it. You shouldn’t when you think about them. If you want to know you’re wearing it at all. Ensure that the participate in the Olympics, you can’t worry: lace fits tightly. It should suit any situation—if ‘What if my competitor is strong?’, ‘What if I it’s a sports shoe, you should also be able to get a catch?’. You’d rather not enter the com- wear it to a formal meeting if the need sudpetition. Don’t worry about what danger will denly arises. Most important: you should be able to befall you. Don’t underestimate the power of thought: a negative thought can cause things walk the path of life well. Follow a similar attitude when you buy clothes. Don’t go just by to happen. Only think positive. fashion and what is in vogue. Today, the forks of some type of trousers fall around the knees. I was very close to this friend. But lately she Imagine a situation where you need to defend talks ill of me to others; she provokes me. I’m yourself: you can’t even lift your leg to kick. very upset. How to deal with this? Understand that your friend is behaving dif- Don’t wear clothes that stand out; character ferently because either she now sees you dif- should be subtle. Do not overdress; be simple ferently or she has changed because of some but effective. reason. But why let it affect you? Why is her opinion important to who you are? Reduce Transcribed by Radhika P the importance of others’ opinion on you. Send your questions to Sensei at: seefarwellnessorg@yahoo.com Reduce the importance of yourself. I once had


memoir

Three murders off the highway to Mumbai A gang kills the entire crew of a lorry and loots it, but is caught selling the stolen goods cheap

VIVEK ARUN

R

oads bring urbanisation. As agricultural land makes way for highways, the value of land in the vicinity shoots up. Income from farming can in no way match real estate prices, and farmers are tempted to sell their land. This is how the housing layouts have burgeoned on the outskirts of Bangalore, bringing down agricultural productivity drastically. With their land gone, small farmers and agricultural labourers suddenly become unemployed. Many use the money to start roadside eateries and shops, or end up working as cleaners and waiters. It is ironic that the upper castes, who once practised untouchability and kept their distance from the lower castes, ended up serving the latter in these establishments. Some unemployed men turned highway robbers, preying on victims of road accidents. This particular case concerns one such group. One day, a group of women came to my office. They were in tears. The older two

among them said the police had taken way their sons. The rest were young, and said their husbands had been arrested. I asked for the details. It turned out the men—Raghanna, Gooriah, Varada, Jama, and Parappa—had been booked for murder and highway robbery. The women pleaded with me to get them out. I assured them of my best efforts. I got the case files from the court. It was a case relating to three partially burnt bodies found in an acacia grove near Chikka Madurai village off Tumkur Road, between Doddaballapur and Nelamangala. Tumkur Road goes all the way to Mumbai. The murders had made the newspaper headlines, and the police were bragging they had cracked it instantly. They claimed to have collected enough evidence to ensure capital punishment for the accused. I heard the investigation team even expected a President’s medal for its achievement. As I went through the files, I found a dramatic narrative emerge from the charge sheet… Raghanna, the main accused, had one day noticed a lorry being loaded at the Patel Roadways warehouse, near Yeshwanthpur. He estimated that the goods, which consisted mostly of TV sets and electric fans, were worth at least Rs 10 lakh.

He informed his friends about the lorry, about to leave for Hyderabad, and hatched a plan to rob it. At around 8.30 pm, when the workers had finished loading the goods, Raghanna went and picked up a conversation with the driver Halaiah. “Hello brother, don’t you remember me? We had met at the dhaba the other day and had lunch together…” he ventured. But Halaiah could not recollect such a meeting. Naturally, since it had never happened. While Halaiah looked confused, Raghanna said he was going to Devanahalli with four others to attend a family function, and requested him to drop them on the way. He offered to buy him and the two cleaners dinner at a dhaba near Yelahanka. Though taken aback at first, Halaiah was enthused by this offer. “I can’t remember meeting you earlier. But I can drop you. Get the others and board the lorry,” he said. To accommodate Raghanna and his friends, Halaiah even asked the two cleaners to shift to the roof of the cabin. As the lorry made its way through the Bellary highway, the driver switched on music and everyone enjoyed the film songs. As agreed upon, Halaiah stopped the lorry at a dhaba. Raghanna offered liquor along with the dinner. The crew were soon high on the cheap whiskey, and as they continued the journey, Raghanna plied them with more. Some way further, Halaiah stopped the vehicle to answer nature’s call. Raghanna, who had followed him into the field, strangled him with a thick rope. At the same time, his friends pounced on the others, and smothered them to death. Keeping the bodies in the cabin, they drove the lorry to a nearby acacia grove. It was past midnight and the place was deserted. They pulled the bodies out and set fire to them. As the firewood was not dry, the bodies were only half-burnt. Villagers found the bodies the next day and informed the police.

crime folio

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

29

Fabled ranconteur and Bangalore’’s top-notch criminal lawyer brings you moving, sensational and bizarre stories from 40 years of his practice

CH HANUMANTHARAYA

The Doddabelavangala police registered it as a murder committed by unknown culprits. That night, Raghanna and his gang unloaded the lorry in a farm near Nelamangala and brought the empty vehicle back to the highway, where they abandoned it. The farm where they had stored the material belonged to a Marwari trader. One of the farm workers there was a member of Raghanna’s gang, and had given them access to the place. Using the farm as their ‘warehouse’, the gang started selling the goods on the streets in Bangalore. As they offered a 50 per cent discount, they turned out to be a big draw. Soon, the dealers of those brands got wind of this unauthorised sale. Their suspicions led them to tip off the police. It had been over a month since the murder. Raghanna’s gang had collected about Rs 3 lakh from the sale, and had more items left to sell. Muniappa, Assistant Commissioner of Police, sent his sleuths to detain the sellers. On seeing the policemen, the gang fled, but the constables managed to detain two of them. In no time, they had confessed to the murder of the lorry driver and cleaners. The newspapers carried graphic details about the case. At the outset, the prosecution’s case looked strong, what with the police claiming to have crucial evidence. But I could see they were on weak ground. No one had complained about the theft of the goods. No one had come forward to claim them. The confessions of the accused, made in police custody, were not valid in court. There were no eyewitnesses to the murder, while the witnesses the police had roped in were too weak. It was an easy victory. Translated by BV Shivashankar


T I M E P A SS

talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

31 Prof Good Sense

„ My son, 23, is a transsexual, and his impulses are feminine. I find it difficult to accept him. What did I do to make my child a transsexual? My husband is blaming me for transferring a defective gene to my son. It is embarrassing when marriage proposals come my son’s way. I don’t know what to say. I try hard to tell myself my husband is illogical, but I am a slave to guilt. How do I come to terms with this? Parimala, Bangalore Your son needs unconditional support from you. Stop believing intervention in his early life could have changed him. If your husband is unreasonable, get him counselled. A transsexual cannot be ‘cured’ with therapy. The transsexual is rejecting birth gender, and not family ties. When your son knows he is loved, he will respond to you. Prof M Sreedhara Murthy teaches psychology at NMKRV First Grade College. He is also a well-known photographer. Mail queries to prof@talkmag.in

11 12 16 18 19 20

According to research by a private body, the city's air and water is not good for our _____ (4) Burglars made off with an SBI ATM machine loaded with Rs 24 lakhs in this area on 24th June (7) Bangalore is divided into 198 ____ (5) Nearly Rs 7 lakh was stolen from a safe in this hospital (6) Multiplex at Garuda Mall (4) University in the news these days (7)

5 7 8 13 14 15

DOWN 2 The Government intends to kick off it's Re 1 per kg ____ scheme from the 10th of July (4) 3 Former minister and KJP leader who was stranded in Uttarakhand (6,10)

Last week’’s solution Across: 1 Police, 9 Yettinahole, 10 Hampi, 11 Jacket, 13 Opus, 16 Agriculture, 17 Canara, 18 BDA, 19 Cyrus Broacha. ACROSS 1 The State Government has released a safety manual for _____ working in underground drains and septic tanks (13) 4 The government's new transfer policy limits their interference in the transfer of officers (11) 6 A four page threat letter was found

talk the intelligent bangalorean’’s must-read weekly

1st Cross

Talk’’s weekly crossword for Bangaloreans who know their way about town

in the parking lot of this facility in Jalahalli (4) 9 Bars and restaurant owners in Bangalore want the government to give them permission to stay open till at least ____ (8) 10 The High Court has asked the Government to explain recent bids pertaining to ___ ____ (4,5)

Down: 2 Carlton Towers, 3 Gol Gumbaz, 4 Darshan, 5 Dennis Sheperd, 6 Women, 7 Madiwala, 8 Hennur, 12 Kandaya, 14 Mulbagal, 15 KSPCB.

17

___ Garden: Boating Park on Nagwara lake (7) Several of these animals have been recently electrocuted after coming in contact with sagging power lines (9) Santoor maestro who will be performing in the city this weekend (5,6) Theatre in Gandhi Nagar (7) The KJP has expressed it's willingness for a pre-poll alliance with the BJP for these elections (3,5) ___ year fitness clause: One of the factors which led to the recent school van operators strike (7) 965 acres of land has been lost to encroachment in this taluk in the Bangalore Urban District (6)

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talk|4 jul 2013|talkmag.in

Now, isn’’t she a doll?

The Chinese super-sexy pervert-proof stockings

She is, in fact. Her name is Tasha James, she’s made of foam rubber, and costs nearly Rs 3.8 lakh. You can buy her online, with each of her body parts customised to your taste and budget. You can even opt for tattooes, tan lines and piercings (there’s more, but of the unprintable variety). The man behind ‘Tasha’ is Los Angeles-based Matt Krivicke, the founder of Sinthetics, which claims to make the most realistic sex dolls in the world. Now, Krivicke doesn’t want you to think of him as another sleazy sexentrepreneur from California. From what we could make out, he sees himself as some sort of artist. “Sinthetics will never become a mass-manufacturer,” he told a reporter recently. In fact, he won’t even let you call his creations (not products, mind you) ‘sex dolls’, or even ‘love dolls’. He prefers the term ‘manikins.’ As he put it, “We view our products as usable art, and our clients as art collectors. It is our experience that the term ‘doll’ can give a limiting context to these pieces of art...” Just in case you’re wondering, Krivicke himself is not made of foam rubber, spongy quotes apart.

It’s common for people to diss the Chinese as drudges and plagiarists only capable of replicating other peoples’ inventions for cheap. The complaint is that they don’t come up with anything original of their own (not counting gunpowder, but that was a long time ago). In fact, the stereotype is so wellentrenched that some Indians also jump on to the bandwagon, blissfully ignorant that we are not exactly bursting with innovation (not counting the zero, but that

32

was a long time ago, too). That debate is now over. The Chinese have given a fitting answer to their critics by unveiling the cleverest device invented till date to help women keep unwanted males at bay. These “super sexy, anti-pervert full-leg-of-hair stockings” are just the thing for young girls venturing out for a night at a Beijing disco, and promises to protect them from even the most aggressive of gropers. Take that, Silicon Valley!

Heterosexuals of the world, it’’s time to come out of the closet July is Heterosexual Awareness Month (HAM), which seeks to highlight the plight of this marginalised majority and sensitise society and governments to the many subtle ways in which heterosexuals are discriminated against and ridiculed in an era of queer hegemony. Founded in America, to “give heterosexuals a voice in the face of growing pressure and indoctrination from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community,” they hope the

movement will now spread to every corner of the world where heterosexuality is under threat. They have declared July 22 as Straight Pride Day (it

also coincides with International Day Against Heterophobia) where supporters of the movement wear black to demonstrate solidarity with the cause. They find inspiration in such figures as Yahyah Jammeh, the Gambian President who said in a recent speech, “I have never seen homosexual chicken, or turkey.” Just in case you’re wondering, it’s not all tonguein-cheek either, as you’ll find by visiting their website: www.hetero sexualawarenessmonth.com.

Talk july 04 2013  

Open house with Shobha Karandlaje, Netas accused in sex scams lie low for now, I closed my eyes and blanked out, From temple fare to HAUTE C...