Comfortably Numb

Sheila Kumar's Storehouse

Published on: 04/10/99 8:08 AM

Humour: Stagey couture, a Mona story

Stagey couture

Mona turns out to be a theatre buff …of sorts!

“It`s theatre fest time,“ I told my friend Mona. She is an avid and regular theatre-goer, our Mona.

“Of course, darling,“ she drawled. “Where else would I be, if not at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall all week long? Why, I have got seven brand new outfits, seven new looks for the week.“

“A lot of emphasis on Indian themes this time,“  I remarked.

“Ethnic. Ethnic is the word, sweetie,“ she said. “Which is why all my outfits are from Gurjari,“  she added.

“Do you know,“  I told her, Mithran Devenesan has brought Brahma`s Hair from Madras. That`s from the book by…“

“Do you know,“ Mona interjected excitedly, “I got a yak-skin vest made for just that play. But I hear Maneka Gandhi will be there at the show. So I`ll wear faux moleskin instead.“

“As long as it isn`t faux monkey,“  I murmured. “This play Under the Elmwood

“Gulmohur, my pet, gulmohur,“  Mona screeched, hitting a high C. “You really must become more desi.  That evening, I plan to wear a waist chain of gulmohurs. And a bracelet of mallige for…“

“Don`t tell me, I know,“ I interrupted wearily. “For the Karnad play. Can you tell me anything about The Terrace?

“Why of course,“ she cooed, nary a hint of patronisation in her tone.“ I watched that play when it premiered at Prithvi last month. Shabana was there, looking quite the Earth Mother in ochre and taupe. Such ethnic shades.“

“But what do you know of the play? “ I asked.

“Oh, the play. Now let me see…something about a terrace. Maybe about the housing problems in Bombay?

“But it`s a Gujarati play,“ I spluttered.

“Oh yes, of course. Now I remember. I had worn a mirrorwork lehenga that evening. And Mallika Sarabhai was sitting two rows behind me…behind, can you believe that?“

Time for a diversion, I thought, and said, “I believe most of the sets are minimalistic this time?“

“The lights, too,“ she replied. “Stage lights are so glaringly harsh, aren`t they, sweetie? And so ageing. I mean, the front row (that`s where i always sit, see) can see the false eyelashes wilting, the makeup melting, and hey presto, a tragic play unwittingly develops a comic touch. “

Greatly impressed by this astute observation, I said, “But this lot of plays won`t need too much makeup. I mean, being ethnic and all that.“

“I do wish,“ Mona said, enunciating the words slowly. “I do wish the theatre groups would give us meaningful fare. You know, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Shaw, Goethe.“

Even as I stared in shock (I mean Mona and Chaucer, Goether and Co?!) she went on to say, “So grand those plays are, so larger than life; and there`s all that velvet and lace.“

After which Mona asked me, “So which plays are you going for?“

“None, “ I told her weakly. “I just don`t have the right clothes , you see.“

This appeared in the Bangalore Beat section of The Times of India sometime in the late 90s, if I remember right.

Other Mona stories:

Humour: Mona in Khajuraho

Humour: Mona at a life-coaching session


a Mona storyhumourtheatre week in Bangalore

Sheila Kumar • April 10, 1999

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