How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

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Location: India

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Manfest - I

IIML hosted its annual inter-college management festival - Manfest - last week (14-16 Jan.). It had its moments in terms of information and entertainment. I'll briefly describe some events that I attended.

Day 1 events:

Talk on Communication by Muzaffar Ali

The famous filmmaker (best known for 'Umrao Jaan'), poet, fashion designer Muzaffar Ali was here to give a talk on communication. He is a Lucknowite and so this was a welcome occasion for him too. He was dressed in a suit though I expected him to come in traditional attire.
He possesses a quite gentle personality. After a brief introduction, he started off showing a 45-minute film that he has made on the poets Rumi and Amir Khusrau. The film was filled with images of UP on the one hand, and Afghanistan on the other. He was himself the narrator in the film and he sought to show how communication of the two poets through their creations was so much in step with one another, despite being separated geographically. After the film was over, he spoke for a while on finding such common bases for communication across the world and using these to create harmony among the peoples of the world.
He also briefly dwelled on Lucknow's history and how the real Lucknow had gone with the 1857 War, and then further with the 1947 Partition, as it lost some of its best culture to Pakistan.

He had said that the written word was the greatest of communication media, and there was a (rather stupid) question from the audience: "Don't you think the written word was one phase of a series of phases of more and more advanced communication media? Don't you think with audio and cinema, the written word has become a primitive communicaton medium?" The simple answer was: "In order to make meaningful cinema, won't I need a good script? Try converting your thoughts directly to cinema without a script, and see the results for yourself.
Another question was on popular Hindi cinema, whose language, he had said, was meaningless. The question was: "Popular cinema reaches the masses while art films do not. So how is popular cinema meaningless?" The answer was that with the gradual diminishing of dedication among the filmmakers and other members of a film unit, the stuff they churn out is simply horrible. "The other day I watched Swades", he said, "and it's a crazy film! It claims to be about UP but more than half of the things it shows are typically Maharashtrian (including the heroine)!" An art film may not get a large audience immediately, but an 'Umrao Jaan' is still alive today and people still want to watch it.

One of our professors gave him a vote of thanks, saying, "Sometimes in order to conduct a great orchestra, you have to turn your back to the audience." An apt comment!

Stage play

Two people - Ms. Neelam Gupta and Mr. Rakesh - of the National School of Drama, Delhi, had directed a play - 'Khamosh! Adalat jaarii hai' - a Hindi translation of the original Marathi play by Vijay Tendulkar. The play was performed by IIML students of the dramatics club ('Abhivyakti'). They had rehearsed for three weeks for this performance.
And let me just say that the performance was beyond what any one of us expected. Truly impressive. These people reeled off lengthy and complicated dialogues with appropriate intonations and emotions.
The play is a very serious one with a social theme. In our country, whenever a few people meet socially, they start criticising and passing innuendoes about another person who is then absent from the scene. The plot of the play is pretty unique. A set of people gather to create a mock court with a lady schoolteacher being put in the dock for infanticide.
Now, even though these people are supposed to be doing a mock exercise, the 'witnesses' who testify in the 'case' speak out real truths about the lady. As the play progresses, we transition from a comic to a dead-serious tone. The play ends with a monologue by the lady schoolteacher on the injustices meted out to women in our society.
All in all, a very mature and professional performance.

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