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   By now Bombay’s society is divided into two equal halves (November 29, 2001)

By now Bombay’s society is divided into two equal halves: Those who have seen Alyque Padamsee’s Othello and can talk about it at cocktail parties, and those who have not seen it and stand ther at cocktail parties with their glasses in hand – looing rather dumb. This piece is for those who have not seen Othello. They are advised to memorise some of the following lines and to casually throw them about the next time people are discussing the play. I will start: It is not Shakespeare’s Othello, it is Akyque’s. Poor Kabir Bedi, he was quite out of his depth. Naturally, the costumes, the lighting, the entire presentation was superb. You experct them from Alyque’s production. Well I would not compare it with Orson Welles’s Othello, simply because it would not be a fair comparison. The text has been edited, intercharged drastically. I am told Nissim is not at all happy with it. Vijay Krishna was the best, but then lago is the meat and patatoes role in the play. Shakespeare wrote it like that. Franckly, I could not catch in Othello’s predicament the significance of the present developments in India. You have to see it at Tata’s not at Nehru’s. I think the play was over-publicised, too much hype. Yes, perhaps, Nikki Vijaykar could have shown more emotion, but I am told Alyque conceived her role like that, as a direct foil to Othello. If he can make Kabir act, he can make anybody act, ha, ha, ha. Did you notice how, as the play progressed, Othello’s venner of a Venetian gentleman washed away and he because more and more Moorish? I am amazed at the change of pace of Sabby. What she does her is totally different from anything she has ever done before. I have always said she is the best actress we have. You can keep your Pearls and Rubies. You call them drama critics! What do our critics know! I was disappointed. At least two of my favourite passages were edited out. Well, you could say it was contemporary version of Othello in spite of those lovely period costumes. But Alyque has explained in more than one interview why he chose Othello and not any other Shakespeare tragedy. You must remember he is an advertisement man. I don’t know, but I like Ronnic Screwalla. I just can’t put my finger on what is missing in the play. Can you? So, if you have not seen Othello, the next time you find yourself in a crowd discussing it, you can participate it, you can participate in the discussion quite intelligently. As for myself, to left you into a secret, I have not seen it also.

 
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