This evening, I went for a play titled 'The Last Salute' on the Iraq War, George Bush's administration, and Muntadhar al-Zaidi's act of throwing his shoe at the President. It was produced by Mahesh Bhatt and directed by Arvind Gaur with my mother and her friend today. Before going, I called up my boss at Indian Express and asked if I ought to cover the play and he said I should. I watched the play intently, took down running notes, and after it got over, I went to the director and cast to take quotes. I also approached Mahesh Bhatt. This was the conversation:
R: Sir, I'm Rohini from Indian Express and I wanted to ask you a question or two. Are you free?
MB: Go ahead. Wait, you're saying you're from Indian Express? Are you kidding me? You look like a school girl.
R: Yes I am. I'm interning with them. I don't look like a school girl! Sir, since you are a filmmaker, why not take the tried and test platform of film and instead, use the stage to convey the realities of the Iraq war and the shoe throwing incident?
MB: Well, cinema is an illusion-manufacturing business. They sell pain killers and put you to sleep and take you away from the reality. This is a play that wakes you up to reality. Besides, Bollywood worships a new deity these days-the Oscars. If you eye that deity, you cannot speak up against the land of that deity-the USA in a film or they'd ostracize you. Hence, the stage.
R: All right, thank you, Sir. Can I have your autograph, please?
MB: (He signs on my play ticket) Sorry my handwriting isn't too good since there's nothing to keep the book on and write. (sees my handwriting behind that) Oh, neither is yours. I don't feel so bad now. (I'm just standing and laughing. It's not the first time I've heard this about my handwriting!)
R: Uh, Sir, in case this quote doesn't work, can I have an email address or something to ask you for another one?
MB: Sure. (gives it to me)
R: Sir, what assurance do I have that you'll reply?
MB: (shows me his three phones) I carry three phones with me. Be rest assured that I will reply almost immediately. Take care, Rohini. (smiles and walks away)
Quite a different end to a play than what I thought it would be.
Quite a different end to a day than what I thought it would be.