Posts Tagged Tannistha Mukherjee

Ek Tha Gaddha – Naatak Play Review


May be an image of 7 people, people standing and outdoors

Ek tha gaddha urf Aladad Khan is a brilliant satire, penned by Shard Joshi. Vain and narcissistic leaders always provide much fodder to artists, writers, and performers.  The play begins with a foolish Nawab on the lookout for a perfect opportunity to provide help to his subjects. His search for this opportunity has less to do with genuinely helping his people and is more about satiating his oversize desire to attain glory and get his name entered into history books.

Naatak, a prominent and largest Indian theater company in the United States, has performed for over 25 years and their plays have been seen by more than a hundred thousand people. Naatak has been declared Best Live Theatre in Silicon Valley by the San Jose Mercury News for the past six years in a row. After closing due to the pandemic, Naatak opened for live performances, at the outdoor amphitheater in San Jose, with Ek Tha Gaddha, with the lead role played by none other than fabulous and beloved Harish Agastya

No court of a foolish leader is complete without philosophers who adorn the court, primarily to sing praises of the king and discuss and opine over a myriad of silly issues. Chintaks played by Tannistha Mukherjee, Jai Jhala, and Rohit Dube looked hilarious discussing with great seriousness such matters as whether the time arrived before them or they arrived before time.  Natraj Kumar as Kotwaal carried out his tasks of announcing the king’s arrival and his declarations with a proper air of haughty arrogance. Roshni Datta was marvellous in her role as Kotwal’s girlfriend, Ramkali. 

May be an image of 6 people, including Harish Sunderam Agastya, people standing and outdoors

Dhoban, Anjali Kirloskar was genuinely grieving her beloved donkey Aladad Khan’s passing. However, Nawab was led to believe that Aladad Khan was a poor but much loved citizen. Nawab decided to use the opportunity to get involved, make speeches and mark his death with a national period of mourning. Thus progresses the play with song, dance and rambunctious humor. Gullible citizens are taken for a ride in this hilarious play, even as we get to witness the brute power of the state. 

To get tickets for this not-to-miss post pandemic play, performed in Hindi, go to www.naatak.org .

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Unicorns by NAATAK – Play Review


“How can we make user experience like flushing a toilet”, rhetorically questions Silicon Valley startup CEO, Mike Jordan (Barnaby Falls), in Anush Moorthy’s play “Unicorns”, a satire on modern era startups. It’s a perfect script to be presented without the elaborate set, costumes, or lights, to a small, intimate gathering of Silicon Valley audience. The play was performed on second stage at Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, by NAATAK company which has won for three years in a row in 2015, 2016, and 2017, the San Jose Mercury News Reader’s Choice Award, for “Best Live Theatre in Silicon Valley”.

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Unicorns traces an engineer’s journey as he joins Oberherr, a high valuation startup. Paranoid Silicon Valley culture has made it imperative for Oberherr, to be extremely secretive regarding their products and offerings. In the absence of talking about their products, in order to get noticed before the big launch and the IPO, the company banks on heavy use of buzzwords. Mike often says, “at Oberherr, we imaginate, innovate, ideate”. Dressed in the style made fashionable among high achievers by  Apple’s former boss, Steve Jobs, in black turtleneck and blue jeans, Mike insists, their engineers “create things from nothingness”.

The company has eliminated desks to enable free flow of thinking and interaction and employees are forbidden to talk about the company, outside its premises. And then there is a palpable omnipresence of the board (Havish Ravipati) keeping a tight focus on the impending IPO. All this paranoia and cutthroat mentality has created interesting dynamics at Oberherr. While Radhika (Tannistha Mukherjee) is highly territorial and least helpful to newbies, her accomplishments go unnoticed in supposedly “egalitarian” workplace, dominated by men.  Ramanathan (Natraj Kumar) has learned to get noticed by sucking up to Mike, and Robin (Rohit Mukherjee) stays out of trouble by staying focused on his laptop. Sahil (Varghese Muthalaly) is fabulous in his role as a new engineer joining Oberherr whose fortune rises and tumbles at the blink of an eye. Sahil shares a healthy camaraderie with a fellow software engineer, Joyce (Aparna Warrier) but couldn’t explain even to his wife Priya (Preeti Bhat) about company’s products.

As seen from a few recent debacles, (one of the prominent one being Theranos) there are interesting shortcomings in the hyped up Silicon Valley startup culture.  The focus on speed and short term gains, at the expense of long term vision and value-add of its offerings is often proportionately correlated with diminishing concern for people, true teamwork and quality of life. People become pawns in a system when stretching the truth isn’t just overlooked but sometimes admired, in quest for world domination and mad rush to IPOs.  Unicorns by NAATAK is a fantastic spoof on the Silicon Valley startup culture. This is a not-to-miss play of this theater season in the bay area. Tickets may be available at www.naatak.com .

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