Monday, 8 September 2008

Do Expats really love our city, ´Mumbai´?

My NRI family and friends always complain about heat, dust and pollution whenever they visit me and I am apologetic. They complain about the poverty on the streets and the time wasted in commuting from one place to another. But still, they have a very good time in Mumbai and always promise to return back again´.

Mumbai is the city of contradictions and who knows it better than French actor Julien Mulot, who decided to pack his bag, leave his home in Paris to write his memoirs of his stay in Mumbai and his coming to terms with the ways of this city. He had serious issues with Mumbai. His experience as a resident of Malad forms the punch line of the play: malade in French means sick, a fitting description for the chaotic suburb.

But a piece that begins as a complaint turns too hastily into a celebration of the city’s spirit of inclusion as Mulot marvels at a conservative society’s acceptance of hijras, a community that he feels would still not be tolerated in Europe

The silent dimly lit auditorium is jolted out of its lethargy as loud music breaks out from a stereo and a motion picture runs on the projector behind the stage. A tall young man clad only in white rises from his stupor and starts talking in French. And you don't have to read the English subtitles on the screen behind to get drawn into the powerful performance and get engrossed in this monologue, which is a telling account of an outsider struggling to adapt to a culture that is alien and yet familiar to him. Mulot rants about his love-hate relationship with the city as projections of clichéd images of beggars, rag pickers, slums and traffic jams flash across his body.

Mulot’s character falls asleep dreaming of hijras and wakes up in the second half in The Fridge, which seems disconnected from the earlier rant. This intensely hallucinatory, well-crafted piece by French-Argentine writer Raul Damonte Botana hinges on five hysterical characters raving about their age, drug addictions and sexuality, without seeming to follow a logical train of thought. At the heart of this monologue is an ageing model who has decided to write her memoirs. Mulot juggles between male and female characters with relative ease and skilfully conveys their erotic and psychotic states.

Stars On Earth is divided between two parts - the first is written by Julien and his experience as a Frenchman in India, while the second part is written by French writer Raul Damonte Botana. There are seven characters in the play, and all seven are played by Julien.

But despite its split personality, the story enfolds seamlessly, and is primarily about a foreigner living in Mumbai. Julien has incorporated his personal experiences to portray his journey. Watching this play will surely make my NRI family and friends to look at Mumbai in a different perspective,

And stop complaining.. Will you?

Source : Time Out Mumbai , Google


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The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),

.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.

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