The Dreams of Tipu Sultan @ Jagriti

The Dreams of Tipu Sultan

When the cream of Bangalore theatre is involved in a production, then you drop everything you’re doing, clear your schedule and fight Bangalore’s traffic with the belief of a follower. Such a production occupied much of May at Jagriti, the performance space that’s rapidly carving an impressive niche for itself in Bangalore’s cultural landscape.

'The Dreams of Tipu Sultan', written by the now-legendary playwright Girish Karnad and directed by Jagriti owner-force in theatre Arundhati Raja, paints a complex, multi-layered political landscape that was South India for the last decade of the 18th century and Tipu's life. The play continuously draws the spectator deeper and deeper into the twists of Tipu's life, his political relations with the French, the British, the Marathas, and the Nizam of Hyderabad as well as his personal relations with his family and court officials.

The acting and the costumes were top-notch, and the play wielded its magical theatrical power over the crowd for most of its 90 minute duration. The opening scene was a little low on energy, and some of the early transitions into and out of Tipu’s dream sequences seemed labored. Special call-outs must be made, however, of Tipu’s performance and the young ‘uns essaying his children’s roles, who are all students at Jagriti’s education initiative.

The crowd was involved in the production, reacting to proceedings on stage, which is always nice to see. However, a lady’s cell phone went off in a crucial scene towards the end, and she took forever to subdue it, thereby momentarily snapping the illusion.

Date: May 17, 2012

Location: Jagriti, Whitefield

Time: 8pm-9:45pm

Play Rating: 4/5

Location Rating: 4.5/5

Crowd Rating: 3.5/5

  • 2 years ago
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Future Culture 1

What’s worth culturing with in Bangalore this weekend? A jazz gig, a funny play, and a screen printing workshop.

Gig: Dhruv! @ The BFlat Bar

This is one serious line-up. Dhruv Ganekar (Guitar), who is the co-founder of Blue Frog in Mumbai and a global performer, will be accompanied by some of India’s best-known jazz names - Tala Faral (Sax & Keys), Sheldon D’Silva (Bass) and Gino Banks (Drums). If you want some terrific music, you’ll make your way here.

Day: Friday, July 29

Time: 8:30pm - 11:30pm

Entry: Rs. 200/- or Rs. 300/-

Contact: (080) 25278361, Facebook

Play: Monty Python’s Spamalot @ Chowdiah Memorial Hall

Monty Python's SpamalotSpamalot is billed as a rip-roaring musical spoof on King Arthur and his knights of Camelot and their hilarious quest for the Holy Grail. This version, directed by Leila Alvares, brings some of Bangalore’s most famous names on stage, including Prem Koshy, Shyju Varkey, Vivek Madan and Mark Swaroop. One of the few professional plays you can hope to catch in Bangalore.

Days: Friday, July 29 - Monday, Aug 1

Time: 7:15pm - 9:15pm

Tickets: Rs. 500/-, Rs. 300/-, Rs. 200/-

Contact: (080) 25282602, Buy tickets online

Workshop: Screen Printing @ Idiom Design, Indiranagar

In four short hours on a Saturday afternoon, you could learn the simple process of screen printing. It’s going to be a small batch; so, individual attention ought to be high. What’s the point of screen printing? Well, for one, I’ll be able to print my propaganda on T-shirts.

Ditch the 4-hour Karan Johar/ Ashutosh Gowarikar saga playing on TV this Saturday afternoon, and come along. Say AnonCulturist’s name when you register, and you’ll get a free cup of tea… from me.

Day: Saturday, July 30

Time: 1:45pm - 5:45pm

Fee: Rs. 1,200/-

Contact: (+91) 934-383-2545 (Registrations are still open)

  • 3 years ago
  • 1 note

Lou Majaw @ The BFlat Bar

Lou Majaw @ The BFlat Bar

The grand old daddy of Indian rock brought his unique style of music to The BFlat Bar, and rocked the joint. At about 9:15pm (45 min after the advertised start time of 8:30pm; BFlat gigs always start late), he nonchalantly strolled up to the stage wearing his trademark denim hot pants, mismatched socks, and towels draped around his shoulders. He could be mistaken for a wrestler or a boxer were it not for the small leather satchel slung across his left shoulder and the cylindrical glass of whisky he placed on the amplifier.

A couple of members in the crowd screamed and hooted, and Lou swung around and squinted good-naturedly. The performer in him had awoken. He slung his guitar over his shoulder, plugged it in, switched on his amplifier, and casually began to strum. Before we knew it, the gig had begun, with no introduction, no sound check, nothing. It was as if Lou had just walked into a house party thrown by friends, picked up a guitar and was jamming.

He karate chopped his guitar a few times every song, and played a juicy version of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man”, before he invited his friends on stage, and what a talented bunch they turned out to be! The lead guitarist, a small young man with tiny delicate hands and wearing a shiny black Fedora, ripped the guitar. His fingers flew over the fretboard and he had won over the crowd in no time. In fact, mid-way through the last song before the break, Lou unslung his guitar and made his way through the crowd to the bar, where he ordered more whisky, presumably, and made small talk with the patrons, while the rest of the band played up a storm on stage. After the lead guitarist was done with his shredding solo, it was the turn of the drummer to belt it out, and he did so in style, even placing his foot on the floor tom as he swung from soft to loud and slow to fast. The big-built bassist stood by watching in the classic unperturbed bassist role. His order taken, Lou jumped back on stage and finished the song.

Lou was the showman in all the songs he played with his friends, jumping around on stage like Angus Young, even walking into the crowd with his guitar, and ending each song with an exaggerated, extended crash of cymbals and guitars. At the dramatic end of one song, Lou leaped and punched the air, but instead caught the false ceiling, resulting in a “rain of dust”, as he called it.

The BFlat Bar is quickly becoming the go-to place for great live gigs. It can boast of an intimate set-up, some very good acoustics and sound equipment, and an appreciative vociferous crowd. Plus, they bring in some truly spectacular out-of-town gigs.

"Hold on to your dreams. Hold on to your love. And if you have neither, hold on to your glass." - Lou Majaw

Date: July 23, 2011

Location: The BFlat Bar

Time: 9:15pm-11:30pm

Gig Rating: 4/5

Location Rating: 4/5

Crowd Rating: 4/5

  • 3 years ago
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Chelsea de Souza @ Alliance Francaise

Chelsea de Souza @ Alliance Francaise

Chelsea de Souza, a confident 17-year old from Mumbai, closed out the 3-day Classical Piano Festival held at Alliance Francaise. Dressed in a silken purple gown and with her hair done up, she strode out as a teenager but morphed into an accomplished performer the moment she sat at the Kawai Grand Piano on stage.

In the first half, which lasted for about a half hour, Chelsea’s performance grew in enthralment and she grew into her music. Her fingers skipped only a couple of times in the opening pieces, but she didn’t allow that to throw her off, and never after that. When she returned after the interval, her fingers appeared to be itching to fly across the keyboard, and she gave it full reign. Her last two pieces, including a jazz spoof written by a Turkish pianist, were probably her best, where she appeared to be at the pinnacle of her performance, even though you could see the tiredness begin to enter her face.

It wasn’t all crash and boom, though. Chelsea swept across the highs and lows, intermingled the hard punches with the soft deft touches, and crossed her hands on the board as easily as she played either end. The sound of the piano wasn’t as warm and full as I would have liked, but that probably had more to do with the acoustics than the instrument or the musician.

The crowd was, thankfully, well-behaved, applauding only at the end of pieces, and keeping generally quiet, though not to church mouse levels. People dropped stuff, coughed (they really should keep a bowl of throat lozenges at these performances), walked in during pieces crunching sand under their feet. However, this was one of the better crowds, numbering about 170, which is a very encouraging sign for the growth of western classical in Bangalore.

Chelsea leaves for the US in August to pursue a double degree in piano performance and academics. She is definitely one to watch out for in the international piano scene, both in western classical and jazz, if she chooses to pursue that.

The Classical Piano Festival was organised by the Majolly Music Trust, in association with Theme Pianos and Kawai. The Majolly Music Trust has two major objectives: to send deserving western classical and jazz musicians abroad for higher music studies, and to create India’s first dedicated pension fund for old and retired musicians.

Date: July 23, 2011

Location: Alliance Francaise

Time: 6:30pm - 8pm

Gig Rating: 4.5/5

Location Rating: 3.5/5

Crowd Rating: 4/5

  • 3 years ago
  • 1 note

Where I Want to Go This Saturday

There are two interesting gigs happening this Saturday in Bangalore, both touching different genres.

Gig 1: Classical Piano Festival @ Alliance Francaise

Chelsea De Souza

This is the final day of a three-day western classical piano festival. Today features 17-year old Chelsea de Souza from Mumbai, playing a repertoire ranging from classical to the 20th century.

The Classical Piano Festival is being held at Alliance Francaise, organised by the Majolly Music Trust, in association with Theme Music and Kawai Pianos.

Time: 6:30pm - 8:30pm

Daily donor pass: Rs. 300/-

Contact: (080) 41231340/4/5, Facebook

Gig 2: Lou Majaw @ The BFlat Bar

Lou Majaw

Lou Majaw is probably the biggest name you can get in the Indian music scene. Revered like the rock star he is, he has been the driving force behind Shillong’s annual tribute to Bob Dylan for nearly four decades. This promises to be a night of Dylan and rock n’ roll, and Lou Majaw is one of those artistes you must see live at least once. Tonight will be my night.

Come early. It will be so packed that people will be flowing out the windows.

Time: 8:30pm - 11:30pm

Entry charge: Rs. 200/- (may be more; this is the usual BFlat entry charge)

Know more: Facebook, Wikipedia

  • 3 years ago
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The Cut @ Alliance Francaise

Evam is one of the biggest names in theatre today, and probably have come closest to corporatizing and monetizing the field successfully. They have founded 'First Rush', a platform that promises to give aspiring actors their first foray into theatre. ‘The Cut’ was a play that featured actors from the first batch of ‘First Rush’.

The play was an adaptation of Ed Monk’s play ‘Cut’. There was a fair sprinkling of Indianisation that occurred, with characters slipping in and out of Indian accents at will (an attempt at confusing the audience, as the play demanded, but overdone after a point).

The best part of the play, however, belonged to two rustic Indian repairmen who came on to change a light-bulb, clearing the stage of all the other actors in the process. They had their Bihari Hindi and their Bihari-English accents down pat and, for me, were the highlight of the short 45-minute play.

However, there was a lot this play needed. Better actors, for one. ‘First Rush’ seems to be rushing in its endeavour to put people on stage after 90 hours of training, for there were many amateurish moments on stage, including low volumes, poor positioning, covered bodies and faces, and wooden acting. It is noble trying to make theatre a pastime of the masses, but Rs. 150/- a ticket is kinda steep for a short, amateurish play, me thinks.

The performance also felt a little too bare-boned, with no music, either off or on stage, save for a ringing telephone. The set was minimalistic with few props. However, despite all the outer layers having being peeled off, the audience was drawn into the performance, chuckling and genuinely laughing out loud at some of the many jokes in the script.

All in all, a commendable beginning, and hopefully, ‘First Rush’ graduates will mature and make the transition from theatre that feels like Off-Off-Broadway to delivering some very worthy performances.

Date: July 10, 2011

Location: Alliance Francaise

Time: 7:30pm - 8:15pm

Play Rating: 2.5/5

Location Rating: 2.5/5

Crowd Rating: 3.5/5

  • 3 years ago
  • 1 note

The Big Junction Jam @ Palace Grounds

The Big Junction Jam Festival

For World Music Day, there was a weekend extravaganza of music. There were two separate all-day music festivals extending over the weekend. One was at Alliance Francaise, their Fete de la Musique. The other was the Big Junction Jam at Palace Grounds, where I was on Saturday.

The quality of music that Bangalore’s amateur bands presented is truly something.

Joos, a four member band, has a groovy funk sound going with off-beats and quick drum rolls.

Mad Orange Fireworks have terrific stage presence, but they seemed to have sound trouble with their bass bursting every time it was slapped. I also think they’ve got a sound that is more indoor-suited.

Black Sun, another three member band, were heavy, in a good way. Their lead guitarist had some serious talent, shredding Jimi Hendrix. The band also had a good on-stage act, with their lead singer trying desperately to get the extremely thin crowd going. “You’re going to headbang with the Black Sun!”

From here, it pretty much went downhill, as some very forgettable bands took the stage. Both Khalihann and Indian Blues are indoor acts, and putting them outdoors dampened the energy considerably. Later bands chose to play film music, but thankfully I missed them as I attended two clinics.

Sahil Makhija of Demonic Resurrection and Rahul of Bhayanak Maut conducted hour-long workshops on guitar and drum techniques, respectively. They played along to some of the tracks and answered questions in detail. It was a lovely intimate interaction between practitioners of the instrument, and it was two hours well spent.

Apart from the music, there were stalls selling cool merchandise, an actual tattoo artist, and beer.

Date: June 18, 2011

Location: Palace Grounds

Gig Rating: 3/5

Location Rating: 3.5/5

Crowd Rating: 0.5/5

  • 3 years ago
  • 4 notes

Betty Argo @ Aqua, The Park

Lena of Betty Argo

Friday night. Gig time.

Betty Argo, a French jazz, electronic, rock band were performing at Aqua at The Park. Surprisingly enough, they started pretty much on time at 8:30. An hour and a half later, when the short-haired female vocalist Lena announced that this would be their last song, one sozzled concert-goer quipped, “What? I just came in. When have concerts ever started on time in India?”

Entry was better than free. Daniel Hechter, the Paris fashion brand (whose clothes I own and rather like), had stationed a woman at the entrance asking if I was going for the concert. Upon receiving a reply in the affirmative, she then handed me a Daniel Hechter gift voucher and catalogue. Brownie points score!

Aqua is a pleasant sort of venue. It deals in length rather than breadth, and has tables lining the entire length. Its main attraction is the strip of pool that sits placidly, covering half of that length and breadth. The functional bar was set up at one end of the pool. The stage sits tucked away at the far end of the pool, beside a empty shack-like bar. The band later said that they had never played in front of a pool before.

Betty Argo started off a little cold. The drummer Jeremie created the first impression with his fast hands and overpowering fills. The two guitarists, Samuel and Arnaud, switched a couple of times between the bass and rhythm guitars, but played soothing, soft guitar grooves. Lena, who for a moment reminded me of Jamie Lee Curtis with her high cheekbones and short swept-back brown hair, started off shaky, and her voice still sounded disused even though the musicians had warmed up and were hitting their stride.

But her voice shook off its dusty layer and then she sounded fantastic. Wearing leather pants and high boots, and toting a bullhorn, she picked the sparse silent crowd up. The guitarists, the shorter one bald and the taller one other wearing a hat, responded. The drummer took it up a notch. It ended up being a good show, one that I was glad to have attended, despite early misgivings of it becoming a snooze-fest.

Betty Argo had performed in Hyderabad and Chennai before coming to Bangalore, and were heading out to Kathmandu. I hope they come back and play in an indoor venue like B-Flat. Their energy and sound seemed to dissipate in the open air, and their groovy music should envelop listeners more fully in a closed setting.

The glass of wine I had was a Blossom Hill white, a Sauvignon Blanc (I think). It felt a little acidic, but wasn’t a bad wine at all.

Date: June 17, 2011

Location: Aqua, The Park

Time: 8:30pm - 10:00pm

Gig Rating: 3.5/5

Wine Rating: 3/5

Location Rating: 4/5

Crowd Rating: 1.5/5

  • 3 years ago
  • 0 notes


An opinion on high culture in Bangalore. Jazz gigs, film screenings, art and photography exhibitions, workshops, restaurants and nightclubs, are all fair game.

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