The scene begins on a street in Mumbai. A middle aged man pulls up at a traffic light. He is Kanha, the sutradhar of this particular piece. The Natya Shastra recommended one as a narrative device and he is usually bantering with gopis who are heading to the market or lake or home and flirts outrageously with them while pulling off some satirical punchlines and even dance moves. There is a group of gopis in shorts and tank tops, stylishly pouting at a cellphone and he is trying to get their attention.
Kanha: Girls! Gopis!
The gopis look at him and go back to texting furiously on their phones.
Kanha: Hello, ladies, gentlemen and all those who consider themselves human. I’m your sutradhar for this particular play and we are as you can see in Mumbai city, waiting for the red light to turn green. Now, I have just sent an online message to the gopis about an audition for a play, so you’ll get to see some banter soon enough.
Gopi 1: Hey there, I’m rap chick rea and I just got a call for an audition for ***, the best beer in town.
Kanha: Very nice! If this were a real audition you would be the next beer girl for all of 5 minutes.
Rap chick rea: Five minutes? Too long, dude. These days time is in micro second parcels. BTW, what are we shooting here? I mean where’s the crew?
Kanha: No crew, just me and camera placed in that traffic signal. We are shooting a beer commercial as I told you and this is your stage.
Rap chick rea: No offense, bro, but this is a beat up jeep with huge ass Tyres. That is weird.
Kanha : Just a sand blaster. You can drive with it on the beach.
Rasp chick rea: Wait a micro second. Beach? No, no, no, you didn’t mention beach in the audition call. I can’t be at the beach without anti frizz hair serum and sunscreen. Not cool!
Kanha: Chill, we are shooting right here. No beach, but we need more babes. So can you tweet up some friends?
Rap chick rea: That is going into my itemized bill, you know. It’s so unprofessional! Okay and now I must concentrate.
Kanha : Sure, you have exactly two microseconds. (to the audience). For those of you who did not fall asleep during that bit of banter, I’m luring the gopis/bearers of various social media handles in with an audition call.
The scene is to be staged right here. At a traffic intersection in the midst of the Mumbai mid morning rush. Our play characters are, Terry, a lifestyle blogger, Anu, an elderly virgin, Benny, her gay BFF and Anu’s mom, though she only appears in texts. Thank God.
Rap chick rea: You’ll alienate the atheists and agnostics if you talk like that.
Kanha: Really? Tell me the difference between them, I dare you.
Rap chick rea: Why should I? Google it. So last century, asking questions and expecting human beings to answer them!
Kanha looks at audience quizzically. He snaps his finger and we are now in the cab Terry is traveling in. It is a special cab and is done up to resemble a lounge with all kinds of gizmos. Terry is being driven by a young woman, Sneha who moonlights as a dog groomer as well. She is in the process of setting up her catering company and specializes in starters. Terry begins to shoot her vlog in the back of the cab.
Terry: Okay, so this week we are meeting millennials who are creating their own brand and supporting their enterprises with day jobs. Sneha here is a prime example. Sneha, can we speak for a bit?
Sneha: Sure. This traffic jam won’t let up soon.
Terry: So when and how did you think of creating your starters only catering?
Sneha: Guess all the buffets and banquets I ate at provided inspiration. You eventually ended up eating only the starters and the tastier they were, the better. The main course often got neglected. Besides, I think it’s so much better to experiment with a few ingredients and create the perfect little bite.
Terry: Which is incidentally also the name of your startup, right? Now since Sneha is in setup mode, she is looking for investors and would love a chance to showcase her skills to you. So please do let her starters steal the show at your next party, gig or even a private bash. And remember you heard about her on Terry live. So, I will call it a day now. Muaahhh!
Sneha : Thanks, Terry. I’m going to get us out of here quickly so you can get to your shoot early.
Terry : Great. The traffic is supposed to be moving fast and there doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Oh no, what just happened?
Sneha :Pile up. Someone seems to have stopped suddenly and caused the vehicles behind to crash into each other. I’m going to stay clear of this.
Terry text: Hey, S, running late. Pile up on the highway.
S text: Yes, someone just tweeted about it. Part of the road caved in.
Terry: Sneha, bad news, the road caved in.
Sutradhar : Now, this is the age of instant news and instant action so no one was going to ignore such a message. A flurry of movement began and as you can see behind me the vehicles at the back have done a turnaround. Let’s ask my solo gopi her thoughts on this situation.
Gopi : Are we shooting already? No, you just want my opinion about this? I think it’s outrageous how the taxpayer is taken for granted. I mean this is just not done!
Sutradhar (gently) : Do you pay taxes, gopi?
Gopi: Me? No! But my parents do and, you know I feel their burden.
Sutradhar: And yet you live at home with them. Sounds like you are aware of their burdens. Okay! Don’t glare at me. Now, while the traffic piled up there was a flurry of messages,tweets,facebook posts. And as is expected in such situations,soon there were opinions, for and against, angst against the system that causes a road to cave in,conspiracy theorists calling it the work of a foreign hand and in some cases ,people bemoaning staying on in this godforsaken country, etc. But in all the noise, I hear a long lost theme. Is it….the star trek theme?
Snap of fingers and we follow the star trek theme into a cab which has Anu,an installation art curator, as well as avid trekker. Her photos of landscapes are quite popular and her circle of friends is tight enough to make her feel confident about publishing them.
Anu(in a cab): Hi, Benny. What’s kicking around in your sick mind,today?
Benny(on phone): You will have to be really candid…ew! What is that vile music?
Anu: The star trek theme,darling. Doesn’t it take you back to your long lost youth?
Benny: Stop being a queen bitch to the queen dowager of bitches. Please answer that call,so I don’t have to hear that ring tone.
Anu: Fine. Later.
Anu (on phone to her mother Vrinda): Hi, mom. How are you today?