Puppet Mastery


Allergies continue to plague my existence, and after work yesterday I also realized I had lost -- in the very same day as buying it -- my $81 monthly metro pass. This led to a return to the office (yes; said discovery took place once I had walked the three avenue blocks to the station) for to be searching, then logging on to the MTA's website to ensure my refund. This left no time for writing, the very purpose for which I dared bring my spanking new laptop (dubbed Gracie, by the way) out into the harsh urban environment. When all was said and done, I was glad my late-night meeting had been canceled. I was even considering revising my plans with Friend Patrick so that I could surrender to countless omens, go home and do the thousand mundane tasks screaming for attention at the moment. Maybe even make up for some of that lost writing time.

I'm glad I did not.

The event of which Patrick reminded me was Slutty Puppets, a semi-regular sort of vaudeville of puppetry (and quite a bit of clowning, as it turns out) works-in-progress. The show had originally come up a couple of weeks ago when I was looking for shows we could see at Galapagos' DUMBO space, a venue by which Patrick is rather inspired. Me too, at this point. It's arranged as a kind of theatre-cum-club, and the main audience area is divided into six clusters of seating suspended by curling iron walkways over a shallow pool. With a bar at the back, a mezzanine, relatively high ceilings and a proscenium stage, it's at once intimate and rather awing -- perfect for variety or environmental stuff, in my humble opinion.

As for Slutty Puppets itself, it was not what I expected. The works were mostly excerpts, and largely seemed to be very much in progress, if you are picking up what I'm throwing down. However: Puppets! Maybe it's just my upbringing, but it's hard to be disappointed or overly critical of puppetry. I love it. I have no problems with the medium whatsoever. I was raised by puppets, in part, and the Henson child in me responds to inanimate objects given behavior and personality the way Pavlov's puppy responded to that dang ding-a-ling. It's one on a list of activities over which I kick myself every time I realize I still haven't devoted just a little time and energy to learning more about. In a way, it's a very pure, direct form of a general aim of mine in life: To bring more life into it.

Um. Interpret that as you may.

What I kept thinking about last night, as we moved through various degrees of preparation and bawdiness, were the ways in which puppets could be used effectively on stage. This is quite a preoccupation of mine, actually. Before I even knew who Julie Taymor was (she is best known in wider circles for engineering the The Lion King musical) I was imagining productions rather like hers. I always want to bring magic into my stories, and I especially like the sort of magic that is fueled by live performers (read: relatively inexpensive). Even as I found ways to do this with circus skills, I started imagining those skills applied to creating creatures -- puppets, in effect. As I watched the variety of forms of puppetry last night, slutty and non, I returned to that niche of my imagination a little.

The thing for me is, I don't want my puppets watered down. I want them terrifying and funny and weird and fascinating, and I want them a part of a story I care about. It's simple enough to use puppets to tell a story about, say, a girl who travels to a magical realm, or to tell a tale involving largely Aesop-esque animals. (It's not simple. That's stupid. It's actually very complex, no matter how you do it. Ignore me.) I want a story that incorporates puppets that are mysterious, and interactive with "regular" actors, and that I end up, against all possible odds, feeling something for. I'd like to hold a puppets performance to the same standards I would an unadorned actor's. That, my friends, would be something to 'blog about.

I wrote a little while ago (see 5/18/09) about Coraline, and that one of the few truly effective moments for me involved puppets of ghosts. They were very simple. They might've been a couple of sticks with a handkerchief draped over them, one the head, another the functioning hand. At their introduction, they surround Coraline like needy children and tell their stories. You may not notice it right away, but the ghost to her right is doing something slightly different from the others. The hand with which he's gently petting her as he speaks is shuddering. Slightly. Like a very human tremor.

Frighteningly effective.

Revisionist History


On Friday I took the dive and bought this, so that for my to-and-fro NoVa bus rides on Saturday morning and Monday evening I could work at revising Hereafter. And I did! I did done revised some! WHO-RAY! It was a great disappointment to discover that typing on a bus is incredibly awkward. The space between rows made it just a bit too tight to comfortably cock my elbows, even given the rather horizontally inclined nature of my new purchase. I muscled through, though, to the detriment of my seat partner and I'm sure my sperm count. Some sacrifices must be made for great art, after all.

Plus, revision was not a terrible experience. This is in spite of a number of other factors going against me at the time (primary amongst these being the curiously intense and persistent allergies I'm experiencing) and also in the face of my trenchant antipathy for the revision process. Having a new toy always helps in some way, and this was no exception. It seems the much-reviled Vista has a viewing option for scrolling through open windows as if they were a deck of cards -- an enormously useful feature when one's scenes are all saved in separate documents. I made quick work of a revised outline of scenes, and so had a bit of a structure for finding a starting point and specifying which scenes needed the most attention.

The biggest changes were the complete disposal of one scene, and the removal of a character from another. Also, my gastroenterologist is going through some major changes, becoming far more prickly and reserved (and hopefully super-dryly funny). The overhaul has begun, and it seems as though as long as I don't get stuck on the idea of how much of an overhaul it's bound to be, and just keep fixing and tweaking one thing at a time, we're going to get there. Eventually.

That having been said, I am thus far utterly un-thrilled with any of my actual writing. It seems as though all I'm doing is solving logistical problems, without invoking too much truth, beauty and/or humor. I probably need to talk to more playwrights to learn some coping methods with this perceived issue. I tend to assume it's a personal problem, my revision writing coming out stale, but that's pretty ridiculous when I say (type) it aloud. Surely some other authors have had to grapple with this. Friends Avi and Christina may have some helpful advice on the matter. Perhaps you, Dear Reader, do as well . . . ?

What is amazing to me is that I've found that sweet spot of distance from the original writing that allows me to make big changes without losing my belief in the story. It still feels like a worthy effort, yet I can see where it needs (not inconsiderable) help. And both without quite knowing where it's going to end up. With age come some benefits.

Now if I just had a little more cash flow to regularly upgrade to train rides . . .

Alternating Realities


Warning: I will be spoiling the new Star Trek movie for you. If you haven't seen it and give a tootin' holler, go read this instead.

So, apparently, everything we've ever been taught by the cinema about extra-normal time travel is wrong. Go figure. I can't say how we can be wrong about something that at this time exists purely in our imaginations, but if such a blunder is possible, I'm sure Hollywood can find seventeen ways to achieve it in but one script session. It would seem that paradoxes, changing the past and alternate time lines, as such, aren't. I'm certainly crushed. There goes one of Hollywood's greatest plot crutches. I'm sure we'll never, ever have another story that ever uses time travel to the screenwriters' advantage ever again ever.

Unless, of course, someone goes back in time and changes that.

In the new Star Trek, the world of the 60s television show is effectively re-imagined, with lots of lens glare and "hand-held" close-ups. I am told the kids are calling this a "reboot" and, indeed, I noticed they put new boots on the Federation uniforms. This reboot is explained, justified, and otherwise meant to be made more palatable by way of time-travel incidences and alternate realities. (Alternate time lines = bogus. Parallel universes = apparently not ruled out just yet.) My biggest complaint about the movie -- which I enjoyed, by the way -- was how adamantly they established and reinforced this argument for making fresh new choices about Star Trek backstory. Just under the scene-after-scene of repetitive expository dialogue I could detect the seismic effects of so many screenwriters giving themselves pats on their backs. Thank you. Yes. I get it. The future is now, conveniently, mostly, unwritten.

It did, however, get me thinking about alternate realities. It's not inconceivable to much smarter people than me that there are multiple universes in which an incredible variation of common elements occur. We tend to be pretty narrow in our conception of such alternate dimensions, imagining them largely as revolving around us and our personal choices in life. But who knows? If the alternate realities are as infinite as we believe space and time to be, anything we can conceive of might occupy one or several. A moss universe. A universe in which the motions of the planets are determined by the game mechanics of backgammon. If nothing else, the notion of alternate realities is a very decent metaphor for, or illustration of, the human imagination.

Viewed through the filter of my comicbook-ridden mind, the new film makes Kirk our Batman, Spock our Superman. Kirk is the vigilante anti-hero, Spock the alien who wants more than anything to do right (and be accepted), and now both are motivated by parental demise. There even seemed to be an aggressive (in more ways than one) sub-theme of Kirk getting his ass handed to him in fights. These interpretations are not too far from the originals, so I took them in stride and tried not to snigger derisively. (Aw man, they blew up Krypt- . . . I mean, Vulcan . . ..) Uhura is way more bad-ass-er, which they tried really hard to make less-than-obligatory, and then they made her Spock's love interest, thereby reinforcing what Hollywood considers its biggest obligation to its audience: a love story. McCoy's a divorcee drunk, thank you Spielberg, Chekov is adorable, Sulu is exactly who you'd want in a bar fight, and Scottie -- well, Simon Pegg I love you and you can do nothing wrong not even Run, Fatboy, Run.

It's the characters that struck me and stuck with me, you understand. I suppose they were the reason I was there, to see a different troupe tackle archetypes, strap on the classic masks and have a whirl. This can be a recipe for disaster, and this wasn't a disaster, not by a long shot. It's just that the actors came across as more imaginative than the writers, which, keeping with a commedia dell'arte metaphor, is fairly apt. But it would have been nice to have both; maybe next time, or in an alternate parallel universe, somewhere/when/which. Which brings me back around to how we think of these alternate lives we could have had, or are having, in some-dimension else.

It's popular to opine that if we had it all to do over again, we wouldn't change a thing. Even when we think about changing something, many of us realize that we sort of like who we are -- the only "who" we know -- and we wouldn't be said "who" without the "what" we were given, when it was given. Or perhaps taken, depending upon your philosophy and/or theology. At any rate, the experience of our age just allows the slightest logical space to daydream about the past, and what-if scenarios. "What-if," I'm not the first to say, is an essential element in all aspects of acting. It's that logical crack that lets a little imaginative fresh air and warm light into the room. As Friend Melissa quotes Leonard Cohen, "There is a crack, a crack, in everything - that's how the light gets in...." There are people we have been, as we've grown, who in retrospect seem as foreign to us as strangers. Personally, I'm usually embarrassed by my former incarnations; but there are a few of me that I still love, that I'll always love, and will never quite be again.

Fortunately, there are no paradoxes, so I can visit with those guys any time I want, and the universe(s) is safe from implosion.

Organ I zatioN


Lately I've been paying some attention to things like the collaboration, productivity, administration and general logistical aspects of work. By "work," in this context, I mean any effort geared toward a specific goal. But I also mean my day job. So, rehearsing a play, yes, revising a short story, yes, and figuring out how to order toner cartridges with great efficiency: yes. This is part of my newish strategy of looking at my life as more interrelated than disparate, but that perspective is also coming pretty naturally to me just now. Recently I've had to take on extra responsibilities at el jobbo del day, due to the laying off of others who were far more experienced at said extra responsibilities, and this has been a drain on my time and energy for other ventures. However, it has also yielded some surprising rewards ("not more money--that's just what he'd expect us to do...") and the main of these has been a discovery that I'm really rather interested in questions of leadership, organization and procedure.

Last summer I obsessed for a while over a Flash game called Fantastic Contraption. The gist of the game is to use common elements to engineer a machine to achieve some transportation goal. I was not especially clever at it, but got a great sense of accomplishment from overcoming successive failures until the goal was reached. In a sense, it was reminiscent of a good, difficult rehearsal, in which I try everything and become more and more dedicated to solving a problem the more failures I experience. In a rehearsal process, there's a philosophy of which I'm a fan that says that there are no bad acting choices; not really. Only good, or better. (Or, as I believe to be grammatically better: gooderer.) The idea being continual improvement in effectiveness, not to mention nurturing an environment in which people can be free to experiment creatively, without fear. It creates constantly improving solutions, and really big mistakes -- the kind from which you learn more, and quicker.

Of course, when it comes to most office work, big mistakes are terrifying things. They involve large sums of money, or people's legal statuses, etc. Yet it seems to me that there is too significant a dichotomy between those who keep their heads down and follow procedure, and those who innovate within an office environment. Is all that negative reinforcement directed toward getting people in line with procedure helping, or in fact hampering the work process? I'm not trying to make a sweeping statement here (horribly inefficient: sweeping) about the rules of the theatre lending insight into the process of the office. The current flows both ways. Much of the administrative structure in an office makes better sense and allows better allocation of resources than your typical theatre process does, and it's ridiculous to argue that structure can't apply to artistic endeavors. Structure is, of itself, an artistic endeavor.

There's been a lot of discussion recently on new forms of organization in corporate America and -- almost as though someone's been reading this here 'blog -- the comparative value/cost of multitasking and single-focus effort, amongst other process notions. I don't claim to have a significant contribution to make to these debates (though multitasking is broken and wrong) but every so often I'm excited by the idea of getting things done in a new way. It's oddly satisfying to me, at my day job, when I feel I've made even the smallest change that helps the whole contraption move better. Such ideas for change usually come about because I'm sitting still, thinking about the situation, and unafraid. It's a state that reminds me of the moment-to-moment pauses in my writing process. Does a conventional work environment allow for much of this? I'd say not. I'd also say, it ought to.

The funny thing is, I'm good about gradually organizing things at el jobbo del day, but in my life -- not so much. The first explanation that springs to mind is laziness, the second, lack of motivation (read: money). Yet I question these responses, precisely because they spring to mind. They're motivated by an energy similar to what administrators typically imagine will motivate their employees, stress, and I wonder what the response might be after a little time taken to sit quietly and mull over the situation. In fact, perhaps it's difficult to do this in the rest of my life because I relent to the stress more outside of the office, rather than carving out those moments to ruminate on it all.

Managing others is a skill; managing yourself is a hard-won talent.

Weakened


I can't get down with the word "weekend." Try as I might, my preference in calendars makes me see them as "week bookends." On top of that (or perhaps because of that...?) Sunday usually feels in whole or in part like the start of a new week to me. It's amazing the way that eighteen years of habitual schedule can influence us -- I still get the equivalent of incomplete-homework dread at some point come Sunday.

My weekend past was a very full one, and full too of creative influences that I feel compelled to share and thereby digest in full. Chronologically, then: Friday night Friend Patrick came out to Queens and had dinner and discussion with Wife Megan and me. Saturday I was up early for acupuncture (during which I fell asleep and dreamt; a first for me), browsed my way through the city and found but did not purchase my new computer and desk, then at night saw a live performance by Break of Reality, who were promoting sales of their new CD. Promoting successfully, in my case. Saturday night, too, there was much dreaming. Finally, Sunday, W.M. and I roused ourselves in time for a great brunch with Friend Geoff in the West Village, had a bit of a scenic walk and then attended the much-anticipated musical adaptation of Coraline. The weekend wound down with drinks at a bar where a friend was DJ'ing, then home for dinner and a late bedtime.

I'm suffering a little this morning from all that activity and the lateness of last night's hour but: goodness, was it ever worth it.

I often lament the lack of cultural occasion I have time for. If it were up to me, I would have seen every off-Broadway show of the past ten years. It is ultimately up to me, of course, but I prioritize things such as food, or sleep. Such is the weakness of my artistic appetite. It feels wonderfully fulfilling, then, when I have a weekbookend like this last, more full of creative experiences than of errand and obligation. Perhaps nothing specific will come of it all, but you never know. Every experience feeds into the cauldrons of our minds, to pop up at the most unexpected moments, and the dinner with Patrick is just as likely to influence my next acting role or writing as is the one play I've seen in months. It is certain that Break of Reality will be accompanying me on my journeys through the city over the next few weeks, however. I only wish I had a recording of one of the covers they performed Saturday: Metallica's One. Lots of different bands have covered this metal classic. BoR's was the definitive.

Speaking of personal responses to such things, a few words about Coraline. It's hardly a unique response on my part, but I was struck by how much the show made me want to build something of a similar idiom. I wasn't swept up in it. In fact, on the whole I was disappointed by how few moments from the show moved me. Great work all around (with some favorites: the lyrics, the ghost children and the performance by the actor playing the cat) but somehow it was for me more a show of ideas than a show of emotion, or catharsis. That's about as personal as a preference can get, and I can say with some confidence that most of my colleagues have a more emotional appreciation of the work of the downtown New York theatre scene. The show invited an imaginative response from the audience, and it got it (my appreciation of the ghosts on this particular matinee was darkly mirrored by the trauma of the little boy sitting in the row ahead, who had to leave the theatre for crying). I only wish it had connected with my heart a bit more. There's a mini-narrative in the story about Coraline's father braving a swarm of wasps so she can flee to safety. It was told simply, and even had a distinct moral, which can be deadly to verisimilitude. Yet it moved me. It surprised me with my own response. I wanted more of that.

All-in-all, a good lesson to take with me in my creative pursuits moving forward. This weekbookend is destined to be rather the opposite of last, I'm afraid. Travel, and lots of time spent with people rather too young to discuss literature or, indeed, even downtown theatre. (They do have their own charms, of course.) Still, it will be a good weekbookend, just in different ways. And I've a secret plan to finally buy that laptop . . . though still not the loverly desk . . . and burrow out a little creative space for strengthening some of my own creative homework . . .

Danny Denzongpa With Son Rinzing

Danny Denzongpa is married to a lady called Gawa and has 2 children, a Son and a Daughter. His son is named Rinzing and daughter Pema

Below are pictures of Danny Denzongpa and Rinzing arriving at Prakash Mehra’s house after hearing of Mehra's death.

Danny Denzongpa's Son Rinzing

Danny Denzongpa (along with son) who is Prakash Mehra’s neighbour at Juhu was among the first to arrive after hearing about Mehra’s demise.

Required Reading


Friend Patrick's going to kill me for this one.

I just realized, referencing Library Thing (an online resource I do not endorse; I'm just too lazy to switch to something else just yet), that the last four books I've read have to one degree or another been arduous experiences for me. If you're reading this relatively recent to when I wrote it, and actually from my 'blog's site, you can see for yourself which books these have been in the widget ovah he-ya:

<--go left and down a ways I should say "have been and still are," as I am bound and determined to finish Love in the Time of Cholera. It is a book I might've enjoyed under different circumstances. Say, oh, when I'm spending my days floating on an inner tube out on a very placid, contemplation-encouraging lake, perhaps drinking a lush and fruity beverage. But somehow, in the midst of New York's hubbub, all I can think while reading it is: Gabriel - GET. ON. WITH. IT! This might inspire a lesser man to put the book down. (Read: smarter man.) But not I! Nay! I shall be able to say that I read the book and, in addition, that I did not enjoy it! And what a proud day that will be for this great, stupid man, indeed. I think it's a great book, actually, and think the same about The Road, and Revolutionary Road. I have no explanation for why roads are good right now. They just are. (And you may notice that I'm rather damning one book by way of omission, which is entirely intentional, I assure you.) The hard, cold fact is that a book can be very good indeed, and yet one may not personally appreciate it.

In fact, the last book that I read and truly enjoyed (I measure enjoyment largely by how eager the book makes me to climb into the subway) was one I've read before: American Gods. I daresay I enjoyed it more this time around than my first, too. It was also the most intentional book I've read in a while. I meant to read it. I chose it. I chose the others, too, to one extent or another, but they all also came my way by circumstance. American Gods is the only one of the group that I actively sought. Of course, I knew I'd like it somehow, given I knew what to expect. The opposite thinking is what's behind my usual strategy of reading. By following a course of coincidence and circumstance, I stand a better chance of being surprised, and taking in new ideas from moment to moment. Alas, this approach can backfire, and here we are, with roughly five weeks of unappreciated reading behind us.

My plan is to apply a little more intention to my reading, and I naturally welcome any suggestions from you, Dear Reader. As to what my intentions are, they are of course entirely honorable, I assure you. My first priority is to find novels that compel me to read on. I feel I owe my psyche this after four books that having required some psyching-up before each read. (Patrick is banging his head on his monitor right now. Patrick, I can hear the thudding from 31st Street!) That can be a difficult basis for choice, however, so my second criteria is a little more specific. I want to read novels either in the general style of, or dealing with the general subject matter pertaining to, the writing I keep trying to make time to do. That means good fantasy or magical realism stories, and books about cadavers and death. What I lack in style, I certainly make up for in viscera.

I have a real inclination toward imitation-of-style (read: outright theft) when I'm writing, so what I'm reading at the time invariably influences me. I've not found this to be true of writing dialogue for a script, but I may simply be lacking perspective enough to perceive it. Or perhaps that work is more influenced by conversation than by what I read. In which case, while my promised werewolf story is in present danger of ruminating at great length on complex, plot-grinding character studies, the Hereafter revisions are currently threatened by the possibility of very, very dry and official administrative speak. This, I think, is ample justification for going out and having really fun and surprising social interactions this weekend. It is required!

Latest Photograph of Aamir Khan's Daughter Ira

First Look Picture: Aamir Khan with Daughter Ira

Both of Aamir Khan's children Junaid and Ira are very close to the mega-star. Aamir is currently on a holiday with his son and daughter. Says a friend "Though the children stay with Aamir's first wife Reena there's no dearth of empathy with their father. Junaid is bonding big-time with his dad and is already imbibing the rudiments of cinema from his father. Ira is a little shy of Aamir. But Aamir wants to change that." Aamir has taken almost a year off after his last assignment to be with his children.

Source: Mid-Day

Emerging Work


When I graduated from college, I topped the whole experience off with one, final, profoundly disturbing regret. At the theatre department's ceremony, I presented my favorite acting teacher with a gift -- my complete collection of dramatic writings, which at the time totaled something like two full-length plays and a couple of ten-minute ones. All nice and neat in a three-ring binder. I think I saw it as sharing a personal connection with him that hadn't been permitted before, and perhaps I even hoped to spark a dialogue or future collaboration. He is a great director, after all. I even have a photo of us posing with the tome, taken by my ever-encouraging (to a fault, I daresay) parents.

Oh God, how I wish I had a time machine and a flame-thrower.

So when I say that the culmination of NYU's undergraduate play-writing class on Monday was an impressive display, I say so with the wisdom attained only by retrospective utter failure. Monday night, in the Clurman Theatre at Theatre Row, I participated in a staged reading of excerpts from an approximate dozen dramatic works by some of NYU's finest. Many were funny, some were heart-breaking, and all were very carefully crafted and re-crafted over the course of a year's study. I had the pleasure of performing in five of the pieces, alternating between an every-man, a lothario, a yuppie, an historian and (naturally) that classic foil: the best friend. The performances were oddly cathartic. I had the sense that they were very, very important to the audience, which was made up mostly of the playwrights and their friends and families. I suppose I'm more accustomed to feeling that the performance is most important to the actors, which undoubtedly says something about me and the theatre I've had experience creating. Bear in mind, too, that my instincts suck.

It was an interesting day, and by "interesting," I in fact mean "largely boring." We began at 11:00, and ran through every excerpt a couple of times for tech purposes. This meant a lot of waiting and, when time came to actually occupy the stage and a character, only as much acting exploration as didn't get in the way of logistics. We had a lot to get done in seven hours, and we did, and it's all a credit to everyone's professionalism and commitment. But that doesn't mean I wasn't kicking myself for not committing to buying a new laptop already. I kvetch about not being able to make time and space to write, and when it's handed to me on a tin platter (this sort of gig doesn't exactly pay large sums) I am unprepared. Boo me, say I.

No, I don't give up writing because I'm so embarrassed by my younger efforts. Somehow the memory of my previous works and their naiveté doesn't occur to me when I'm excited to write something new. It's not quite selective memory, because it's not quite intentional -- more like a non-gag reflex. I think it's a reflex akin to the little tricks everyone's memory plays on them to get them to ride roller-coasters, or fall in love. One doesn't think of the terror, the loss of control, the vomiting; one only thinks to oneself, "WANT!" It's a dangerous urge, which seems to me the only kind of urge worth having.

Shakti Kapoor's Son Siddhanth's First Indepth Interview

Bollywood baddie Shakti Kapoor's son Siddhanth was arrested at the Juhu rave bust along with 240 others last October. In his first indepth interview, the DJ and aspiring actor comes clean on media bias, the druggie label and the disadvantage of being a star kid.


If you were to Google Siddhanth Kapoor, you'd be dished out close to six pages of news on his arrest at the Bombay East 72 rave party in October 2008. With no good word on the guy in cyber space, it's ironic when friends and acquaintances tell you he's not your average messed-up celebrity kid. Those who've grown up with Siddhanth aka "Bully" find it tough to share gossip on him, the stuff you'd expect from the Pandora's Box of the rich and famous.

The "most chilled out guy" has the life of any other 25 year-old — gyming, kickboxing, catching movies, and meeting his group of 12 friends over dinner. When he isn't doing any of this, he works on improving his Urdu diction. "Sonam (Kapoor) is a childhood friend, so is Boney Kapoor's son, Arjun. But, that's as far as celebrity friends go. The rest are just people I went to school and college with," he shrugs.

Allergic to page 3

While growing up, his parents kept him and younger sister Shraddha away from celebrity parties. And that perhaps has something to do with his allergy for "page 3-type" socialising. It's tough to find a photograph or news piece on him, anywhere, until the rave bust happened, that is. "I stay away from all that. I haven't given interviews either."

Shakti Kapoor's Son Siddhanth

Slouching on a couch beside giant glass panes that overlook the sea, comfortable in worn out jeans and flip-flops, he nonchalantly says, "I don't care where people come from, who their parents are, what they wear. Nothing." He holds your gaze constantly with a novel glint in his eye, without blinking much and smiling, however sporadically, with utmost genuineness, some despair and comfort, all at once. A few features (especially the eyes) and the contours of his face bear an uncanny resemblance to his father's — Bollywood's favourite bad guy. It's the sort of face, soft but craggy, that instantly speaks of having endured tough times.

"The rave bust was the hardest time in my life. It was disturbing to be singled out, to make it to the headlines, get misrepresented on TV channels and tabloids... all because I was a celebrity kid. He was just DJing at the party, a passion he's harboured for a decade. "But I happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time," he throws his hands up in the air exasperated. The media that had gone to town over the drug test, turned cold when the result was declared negative. "Nobody did a follow-up to that story," he rues.

I'll never stop DJing

Back in 1999, Siddhanth bagged his first gig at Head Quarters, better known as HQs, Colaba's favourite teen night spot. Since then, he has DJed at sundry clubs and parties. He is a proud collector of 5 Caselogics of music, and loves all forms of electronic. But, he plans to change his style a bit, and focus more on house. "But playing at parties is out of the question. I am going to stick to leading nightclubs, those that are safe to play at."
Direction helps an actor

In last two years, Siddhanth has been busy assisting South director Priyadarshan on Bhool Bhulaiya, Bhaagam Bhag and Dhol. "Direction equips you to understand the nuances of filmmaking, which are necessary for actors to know — camera angles, dialogue and discipline on set." After studying acting at the Lee Strasberg Film and Theatre Institute, New York and direction at the New York Film Academy, Siddhant is scouting for quality auditions. At the moment, he is nervously waiting to hear from Anurag Kashyap Productions on a lead role he auditioned for last week. He's clear that he will be picky about roles, the kind of stuff Saif Ali Khan did in Omkara or Abhay Deol in DevD. But for now, he's elated that his 22 year-old sister is making her debut in Leena Yadav's Teen Patti starring Big B. "I am the typical possessive older brother. But we are very close," he smiles.

Mom's the word

The family is the closest they have ever been, he admits. "We have been through a lot. But, we have stuck on." He credits this calm, collected outlook to his mother, Shivangi's (Kolhapure) daily Mahikari Japanese spiritual regime. "It purifies the mind, body and soul. Mom, Shraddha and I practise it daily. I think that's what has kept us going, kept us together."

Face to Face



Curious side effect of my acceptance into the Cult of Facebook: I believe it has affected the readership of this here 'blog here. Unfortunately, I am not computer-savvy enough to figure out how to quantify that change. I do know that the readership growth (growth in this context being a very, very relative term) for Odin's Aviary has slowed over the past year, though I attribute that more to Google Reader and RSS feeds than anything related to Facebook. No, the more interesting change -- more interesting by far -- is how many people are now reading my thoughts who haven't been privy to them for five, ten, and in a few cases even twenty years. I could no doubt increase this number by "tagging" friends for each entry, were it not that I'm pretty lucky to get as many posts published as I do with the time I have, anyway. The point is that my audience has had an intersting development in quality lately, in spite of a seeming falling-off in quantity.

Now, I'm not trying to imply that people I already know who read my 'blog are in some way better than them what don't. By "quality," I mean the overall identity of my audience. (An "overall identity" is a pretty interesting-slash-meaningless concept, but you get what I mean. I hope.) When I first started doing shows in New York -- which is as much as to say, when I started being a true professional actor -- I quickly became fascinated with the relationship between audience and creator. This fascination existed in a very immediate sense, not some theoretical or academic speculation, and it continues for me today. Just who are these people who are coming out to engage in theatre? And, perhaps more interestingly, who are the ones that no one on the production side knows, and what do they come seeking? Odds are, when you're sitting in the audience of an off-off-Broadway show, most everyone around you knows somebody involved in some respect (so watch what you say) but there are always at least a handful who don't, who are there for an evening's entertainment, or for something they don't even know yet. Maybe this isn't as curious as I find it; after all, in big productions all sorts of strange people are filling the 1000+ seats and looking for something other than seeing their friend on stage. Still -- to my audiences -- who are you, really?

So both are interesting, friends and strangers. Hello. Welcome. Try not to rely on this 'blog for too many of those promised fart jokes.

Wife Megan and I have had several conversations lately about people we feel we know who don't know us -- Neil Gaiman, mostly. It's a very Gaiman-y season. I recently re-read American Gods (and I rarely re-read books) and rented Beowulf. I just read and loved his two-shot Batman comic "Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?", we're seeing the musical adaptation of Coraline this Sunday and seeing the man himself at a talk at Used Housing Works Bookstore in the latter half of the month. May is positively Gaiman-esque. And it's funny, because we both feel awfully close to the man, and he has no idea about us. Really, we have no idea about him, personally. It's just that his writing has influenced us so, kept us company, driven away boredom and provoked thought and emotion in us, that, well . . . it's hard not to want to make the man breakfast the next morning. Oh, you're up! How do you like your eggs, American Gods? I have cleaned and pressed your trenchcoat, Anansi Boys. Please, Fragile Things, don't bother about the bed. I need to change the sheets anyway.

Yes; I acknowledge that analogy as just this side of creepy. Alright: Way over here with me in downtown Creepyburg.

What does this have to do with showcases presented in under-99-seat theatres, or a 'blog that gets in just over 50 hits on a good day? I suppose what I take from it is that we extend farther than we may be aware, we influence more, touch (perhaps at times inappropriately) many more lives than can be evident, even with the aid of all things TwitterFaceSpace. It's a reminder I value. It reminds me, in fact, of a big reason for doing this stuff -- all this exploring, communicating, connective stuff -- in the first place. Because it matters, to people we know and those we have yet to meet.

And Some Days, the Bear Gets You


Bleaaaaaaaghhhh . . .

It's been rainy here in The Big Apple, and is slated to continue various levels of gray dampness right through to the weekend. This, amongst other circumstances, has led me to about three days of feeling like a cold was coming on. I think I'm pulling out of it now (fingers resolutely crossed [you should see how I'm typing]), but even this morning there was no convincing myself to repeatedly push-up from the floor, much less jog through the moist grayness. In fact, starting with Saturday, the past few days stand in sharp contrast to the energy and motivation that were driving me last week. Lest I ever doubt seasonal depression . . .

Trailing off is rather what I've been doing lately, in most things. That is, perhaps, not giving myself enough credit. I have been working like a dog (that is to say, confusedly, but with enthusiasm) at el jobbo del day, and there has even been the odd acting assignment and social assignation thrown in, too boot. Good and bad. Yet the end result has been, regularly, a certain sloping down-current that ultimately results in . . .

That. Bleagh.

I demand exclamation points! At all times! Bleagh!

That is all. Whoops: That is all!

(Oo-oo-oo . . . italics . . .)
 
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