Friday, 6 July 2018

Tilismi Lota: Theatre Review

Tilismi Lota: A quick review of the comedy play

When? June-July 2018 (Premier shows at Sangeet Natak Academy and Bharatendu Natya Academy, Lucknow).

What is it? A comedy play put up by a talented group of rising theatre stars from Lucknow.

Genre? Sweet comedy, slight political satires

Sparkle Meter :-
(I'd have given them a 8/10, to be honest. But they earn an extra point for the huge risk taken to stage a comedy play in Awadhi and how!)

In a long, long while comes a play which is scripted totally in the local, colloquial dialect. This one is a local rendition of Awadhi. It is a neat, sweet comedy, packed with musical notes, stellar performances and so much laughter that it will get you rolling on the floor.

If ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ would ever be put up on stage as a comedy of errors, it would be this, with each character of the play etching for the viewer an unforgettable image.

Story Sketch

In a village called Ruknapur, Punai and Machetu are best friends who want to become richer the short-cut way. They’re both hopelessly useless, unhygienic and crass, yet come across as sweet and kind human beings. Jugadhu Pradhan is a criminal from the village, contesting election for the post of Pradhan. His power, not only muscle but also filthy money, helps him tame the entire village out of fear. Machetu mocks God night after night with satirical (and musical) prayers until one fine night Lord Krishna himself appears before him to grant a wish. Machetu is blessed with a ‘Tilismi Lota’ that would change his life forever after. What follows next is how Punai and Machetu get back at Jugadhu Pradhan contesting against him in the elections, how Machetu’s love story with Pradhan’s only daughter grows, how Tilismi Lota changes his luck and how multiple plots get interwoven in a common thread that leave them with a lesson they’ll remember a lifetime.

What Is Good About The Play?

      1. Awadhi Language
Not often does one get to watch a play scripted totally in a local dialect, like this one which is partially in Awadhi and partially in Allahabadi. Quite often, the directors are sceptical running the risk of limited viewership or the plot isn’t powerful enough to hold the play in local language for a wider audience. Tilismi Lota, fortunately, is a blend of both elements. It’s a must watch for every Uttar Pradeshi. And those who are ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ fans would die for it.

      2. Acting Prowess
Remarkable performances by the cast, especially, actors playing Machetu, Punai and Jugadhu. They leave behind unforgettable characters that stay with you for long.

      3. Comedy Timing
None of the funny liners or sarcasms fall flat. Actors pick up dialogues spot on and emphasise with just the right diction. Even the Bollywood songs that have been choreographed have hilarious dance moves, particularly typical ‘baraati dance’ that leave audience laughing with tears.

What Is Not So Good About The Play?

1. Slangs and Cuss Words
Although used in undertones and in limited scope, there certainly are portions in the play where local slangs and cuss words have been unapologetically used. It does not hurt the ears though. You may want to be cautious with taking little children along.

      2. The Opening
The play does not have a powerful opening which misses making a connection with the audience right away. It is with Jugadhu’s first appearance on stage that a strong hook with the plot is established.

      3. Poor promotion
Despite a powerful performance prepared with much hardwork and diligence, not much has been done for the promotion of the play. Posters, invites, banners and flyers are not eye-catching enough. The only promotion play gets is by word of mouth. But then, I’m sure we understand how difficult it is to build a brand with lack of sufficient resources for budding theatre artists, don’t we?

Directed by              :           Tushar Bajpeyi
Written by                :           Aashish Pandey
Cast                             :           Tushar Bajpeyi (Punai), Aashish Pandey (Machetu)
                                                Jugdhu (Abhishek Singh) with Bhavya Dwivedi, Ahman 
                                                Raza Khan, Anushka Saxena, Altamash azmi, Ali Khan, 
                                                Naman Shukla

Tickets :-
Rs. 200 for adults and Rs. 100 for children (The one which we watched had tickets sold out at these rates for a full house. However, there are passes available for sponsored shows also).

The theatre troop may be contacted for a repeat show of Tilismi Lota at 07906475223.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Tilismi Lota: Comedy Play Review
In a long, long while comes a play which is scripted totally in the local, colloquial dialect. This one is a local rendition of Awadhi......Read more 

Green orchards, a warm sunrise encapsulating soft dewy breeze, trees laden with ripe fruits, humming of birds and a fragrance that fills up the senses with delectable ecstasy. This is the world of mangoes every summer morning!.....Read more

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Two To Mango?

6th Annual Mango Festival 2018: A quick review and sneak-peek

Where? Indira Gandhi Prathisthan, Gomtinagar, Lucknow

When? 17th June (Orchard Visit) and 23rd-24th June (The Festival)

What is it? A grand show of mangoes, orchard visit, delicacies, storytelling, quizzes and fun rides

Sparkle Meter:-

Green orchards, a warm sunrise encapsulating soft dewy breeze, trees laden with ripe fruits, humming of birds and a fragrance that fills up the senses with delectable ecstasy. This is the world of mangoes every summer morning!

If you are among those who think of mangoes not just as a national fruit but as a bundle of sweet memories from childhood that have gone behind savouring it for consecutive summers, this is one event customised to your taste. The Annual Mango Festival 2018 is around the corner, tingling our taste buds to unlimited varieties of desi mangoes, already. You would have heard about Chausa, Langda, Dashahri, Alphonso or Safeda but it could only be here, in these few days, that you would get to taste Lakhnavi Gola, Tamancha, Lalbebaha (Wajid Ali Shah’s favourite), Ali Gauhar or Tarifi.

Why You Must Attend The Festival?

Amongst tens of reasons that the festival may claim its stake on, here are few really unmissable ones:-

(1) Orchard Visit:
Scheduled on the 17th of June 2018 is an Orchard visit to the Abbasi Orcahrd at Kakori. A rare opportunity to feel the exemplary experience of orchard farming first hand, as well interacting with the farmers whose produce we relish without even getting to thank them once. Here’s the chance! Besides, the organisers promise a special Awadhi breakfast, tractor and horse rides across the farm, some fun contests and historic tour with informative inputs on organic farming. Platter costs -- non-veg @Rs. 500/-, veg. platter @Rs. 400, children platter @Rs. 300/- and no charges for kids below five years of age.

(2) The Mango Diversity Fair at Lucknow is in association with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and CISH, creating an interface between farmers and scientists to share their best practices with us. Also, getting us to taste rare local mangoes, around 700 varieties unavailable anywhere else across the country, is equally fascinating. The cost of mangoes range from Rs. 50/- per kilo to a few hundreds at the most. There are no gate entry or parking charges. 

(3) Being a part pf enthralling cultural events like Aam ki Kahaani-Awaam ki Zubaani, Zikr-E-Aam, Qissagoi on Aam, local folk music and dances and the Mango Food Festival with top Lucknow restaurants and home chefs participating. There’d be Cooking Contest judged by Masterchef Pankaj Bhadouria, JD Institute Lucknow showcasing Mango influence in design, rural innovators by Swatantra Talim, Jams made by rural self help group, Saidanpuri enabled by Awadh Mango Growers and Baankeloom as highlights of the event.

And if that isn’t enough a reason, you would also get to indulge in Mango Pakoris, Kulfi, Salsa, Souffle, Pickles and Drinks, apart from regular fun shows like rope swings, horse rides, quizzes and contests.

What you must watch out for?

(1) The Summer Heat: This is the peak of summer season in Uttar Pradesh and with the unforgiving sunny weather, do take precautions before staying outdoors for long. Use sunscreen, wear loose cotton dresses coupled with sunglasses and a hat for added protection, keep yourself hydrated and take shelter of the indoor activities in the festival between 12 noon to 3 pm.

     (2) Park your car safely: The festival attracts huge crowd often leading to a long queue in the parking zone, especially during evenings. Be patient and park your vehicle only in the zone identified to avoid chaotic condition.

     (3) Prior registration for the contests: If you want to participate in any of the contests being organised at the festival, do send in your names to the Organisers beforehand. (Quick link for online registration is here.) The on-spot registration counter is often found crowded and you might have a tough time getting through.

(    (4) Experiment with care: The array of unlimited display of mangoes at reasonable prices gets so tempting that one does not want to miss any bulk purchasing. Don’t miss interacting with the vendors about the durability of freshness of bulk purchasing, if made, and simultaneously be wise in your picks.

This summer season, there can’t be a better way to relive old memories and create new ones with your children. Why, does it not take just Two To Mango? Go, Relish!

(Author with Jyotsana Kaur Habibullah raising
 a toast to Mango Cocktails)

Important Contacts:-

The Mango Fest team is led by Ms Jyotsana Kaur Habibullah. They may be contacted for queries at :-

Phone - +91 7317477232

facebook - Mango Fest Page 

Friday, 18 May 2018

    Winning TOI Write India S01 - A Hunt For  India's Next-gen Authors

Book Launch - WRITE INDIA SHORT STORIES featuring my story -- CHERIMOYA,
Published by Times Group Book, Year 2016, You may buy here

Book Launch : Twilight's Children featuring my story A STAR IN THE DARK SKY
Published by Readomania, 2017, You may buy here

Winning 3rd FICCI FLO AWARD for Outstanding Corporate Director, 2018
Felicitated by Film-maker Madhur Bhandarkar, Mayor-Kanpur & FICCI FLO President

Hindustan Times, Nominated for HT Woman Award 2017

Amar Ujala, 29th April 2018

Dainik Jagran, April 2018

Three Clippings: (1) Hindutan Times, (2) Dainik Jagran, (3) Hindustan (Hindi), Feb 2016

Amar Ujala, 20th Feb 2016

The Times of India, 2017 

Navbharat Times: 2016

Hindustan Times, 2017

Dainik Jagran: On World Book Day, 23rd April 2017

Dainik Jagran, 2018

Precious Archive: Amar Ujala, 2017

Hindustan Times, 2018

Amar Ujala, 2018

Hindustan Times, 2017

Nav Bharat Times, 2016

Hindustan Times, 2018

Hindustan Times, 2017

Dainik Jagran, 2018

Felicitated 'Jyoti of the Month' by Writers Hub

Dainik Jagran, 2017

Book Launch of 'Sivagami' by Anand Neelkantan

Felicitation by FOLKTALES : Women Leaders Who Inspire

The Times of India, 2016 (Featured with Priyank)

Felicitated as Inspiring Woman Leader by CMS group of Institutes on Women's Day 2018

That moment when one gets featured as a proud employee of a Maharatna, NTPC Ltd.
(The Indian Express, June 5 2018)

Hindustan Times, Visit to Kotwara Palace, featured by HT and Marriott

In the list of "101 Inspiring Women in India", published in Jan 2016 

Team Member, Lucknow Literature Festival, 2015, 2016, 2017 and Moderator for several sessions.

Team Member, Lucknow Literary Festival-2016, Paryatan Bhawan, 2015 and Moderator for several sessions.

My first story, The Lost Tranquility, incidentally won the International Writing Cash Contest 2005

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Stage, lights, camera and microphone are synonymous to my being. Nothing new to any theatre artist, I guess! Yet, these days, far more than theatre, there are three distinct reasons I could be on stage performing an act:-

One - Moderating, anchoring, holding literary panel, sessions, reciting poetry or storytelling.

Two -   Holding the show for celebrity interactions, interviews or moderating panels with them

Three - Conducting Corporate Training/Workshops in HR/OB/Leadership modules or as a Speaker in Conferences

There lies, thus, a very thin line of demarcation between my passion for writing and Corporate life. The more I balance my dance on the razor's edge, the happier I go.

Here's a lil look into my life, centrestage:-

Moderating session : Dr. Shashi Tharoor, Author, MP and Speaker

One strong wish from the childhood bucket list finally ticked off tonight --- Sharing the stage with the imitable, Dr. Shashi Tharoor!! Also to host the invincible forces of Salman Anees Soz, Alim Javeri and Ms Ameeta Sinh.

Moderating literary and musical session : Piyush Mishra, Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Actors

Moderating a literary session with the invincible, Piyush Mishra, and the charming, Zeeshan Ayyub, both theatre stalwarts. 

This is from Lucknow Literature Festival, 2017. 

Anchoring and holding the stage: Zeenat Aman, Actor

She was the heroine who broke the cult of stereotypes with her bold experiments in Bollywood Movies. Hosting Zeenat Aman was an exploration into what goes behind breaking the traditional frame. The event was named "Celebrating celebrity women in Pre-Independence era". 

Year - 2018

Interview and discussion: Mohd. Zeeshan Ayyub, Actor

For an avid dramatics student, there cannot be a more humbling experience than moderating panels for theatre stalwarts, such as Zeeshan and his gorgeous wife, Rasika Agashe. This event from a Literature Festival was a huge hit with young boys and girls almost not letting us go off stage. Year - 2017

Anchoring National Theatre Festival - Repertwahr 2017, 2018 and 2019 

Our one-week theatre fiesta got over like a short dream. In past few days, Priyank and I have worked like strivers, putting 48 hours into a day with hardly any sleep. We managed (fulltime) work and play together, without throwing tantrums on our girls like decent parents. What a feat! 
We held the stage for Rajit Kapoor, Manav Kaul, Sumit Vyas, Sudhir Mishra, Neil Bhoopalam, Sheena Khaled, Saurabh Shukla, Kumud Joshi and few other theatre biggies, names to die for. 

Moderating literary session : Nikhil Sachan, Author

Moderating literary session with the author of bestselling Hindi novels, Nikhil Sachan. This one is from Literature Festival.

Moderating literary session : S Y Quraishi, Chief Election Commissioner

Moderating literary session with the country fame, S Y Quraishi, Ex- Chief Election Commissioner of India, on Demystifying Elections and Empowering India : A CEC's journey

Anchoring and Moderating Q&A for Giocommo Pirozzi

When he had a chance to mint millions with commercial photography, Giacomo Pirozzi instead chose to capture human emotions in his lens, travelling to torn and bruised lands across 132 countries, where others even dread to tread. Torchbearers of humanism still lead the light somewhere in the dark corners of earth! Anchoring the Prelude to Lucknow Literature Carnival 2015 for him.

 Speaking on The Power of Poetry 

Kindling tender minds with the touch of poetry and the power of imagination. Workshop conducted at at a leading school. 

Training the CBSE School Principals and Teachers

As a leadership trainer, on special invitation conducted workshop to train CBSE School Principals and Teachers, the true leaders who shape up lives of thousands of young minds over many years. 

Performing at Sahitya Adda, S07

Performing protest poetry at Sahitya Adda and launch of the book, an collection of poems in English, Urdu and Hindi.

Speaking at Pravah -2018

When you get a chance to speak to an audience footfall of 10,000+ students coming from 500+ institutes, what better than to perform a 'protest poetry'. Even if few take back the message, the poetess will have her job rendered.

This is from a National Level Inter College Festival. 

Addressing working women in management at SIDBI

Invited by SIDBI as a guest speaker on International Women's Day and speaking with like-minded working professionals, we deliberated like mad hatters.
Is IWD just about how many discounts we got on beauty products for a day, what sale offers hit the apparel market, how many friends did we tag on facebook, what color we coordinated in theme based kitty get togethers or how many roses or wishes did we receive?

Anchoring an Indo-French Jazz Evening

We began the Mahindra Sanatkada Lucknow Festival with Hindi Studio and wound it up with an Indo-French Jazz evening. The range of creativity around us is so overwhelming, one can never be grateful enough. 

Reciting Nau-Ras of Hindi Kavita

A one of never before experiment with narration of Nau-Ras Hindi poems with jugalbandi on Tabla, unadulterated classical music. Presentation at Sanatkada Festival, with my partner in crime, Priyank.

Reciting protest poetry at Sahitya Adda

Something that I dearly believe in is putting my thoughts into metrical protest poetry. This is from an evening full of words, coffee and guitar at Sahitya Adda. 

Mime Act on Stage

All set for a mime show, excitedly I smudge my face with an over the top makeup and ask ShreeMan my usual one liner - "Hey, how do I look?"

With a deadpan face, he replies "Why? As usual." (Cruelty, thy name is love!)

The other story is that I played the protagonist in two mime acts on stage, after long years.  

Guest of Honor and presenting protest poetry

Poems, books, guitar, Lenon, ghazal, hot coffee, shayari, a misty winter evening and some heart stirring snippets to share. That’s the kind of intriguing work Sahitya Adda is doing. To be felicitated as ‘Guest of Honor’ among eminent literature enthusiasts and be even staged in the league of Nilesh Misra (the voice behind ‘Yadon Ka Idiot Box’) is a feeling of strange fulfillment.

Keynote Speaker at The Tea Stories
चाय, चर्चा और कुछ चुहल। 
Glimpses from a Sunday afternoon well spent with "Tea 


Moderating literary session : Shruti, Author

Moderating session with author of Hindi novel, Shruti Singh, who also happens to be a very dear friend.

Poetry session, judging an inter school festival 

Igniting Young Minds with the zest for Poetry. This one is from an inter school literature festival.  

Presenting 'Twilight's Children' on World Autism Day
What better a way to celebrate International Autism Day than to be with the special ones themselves feeling the exponential energy they liberate, to know the struggles of special educators and caregivers. Also, to be getting an opportunity to present them our book "Twilight's Children".

String of Tales, Episode 02, DD-Ka-Blog
When young, enthusiastic minds conduct a show, they do us oldies an unexpected favour. They design our posters making us look like some cool, swanky, rock-star! Not that we mind! 

Moderating Author session with Mukul Kumar

This one is from a moderating session with Mukul Kumar at Lucknow Literature Festival. We also shared each other's book. Write India Short Stories got introduced to Lucknow. 

Moderating Author session with Viveik Pandit

Another unforgettable event is moderating author session with Viveik Pandit for his book 'Rani'at Literature Festival. 

Moderating session and Book Launch of 'Kashkol'

A host of literati got together at the launch of 'Kashkol', collectio of poems by Shruti. Moderating the panel was a delight as besides being a talented writer, she happens to be a dear friend too. 

Anchoring Hasya Kavi Sammelan in Hindi

An evening of another level when stalwart Hindi Hasya Kavi hold the stage entire night long. 

Their wit plays through the moon and we can't stop laughing. To match their quick wit and humour on stage, let me tell you, is a challenge one can never go prepared for. 

Anchoring at Sanatkada International Festival 

An opportunity to anchor the show for International Puppeteer at the Sanatkada International Festival.

Year 2017.

Recitations at The Poetry Club

There is something about The Poetry Club, founded by Dr. Siddharth Warrier. The homeliness, encouragement we get from one another and learning tenets of good poetry through sharing, is what got me writing poems after long years. Also, they helped me discover how Hindi Kavita has indpired me and shaped my being.

Storytelling with Children

The beauty of Sanatkada ka Adda is that it is a place that dares to look beyond boundaries of caste, religion, status and other social baggage. 

We, the storytellers, spin yarns, play along and have a real fun time with first-generation enthusiastic learners flocking there. The by-product? It becomes our cleansing therapy.

Corporate Storytelling: Performance Management

As an industry professional whenever I get to interact with Business School students, I don't miss chance to bust the myth of cosmetic glamour spun around HR to let them know how harsh, unadulterated, and yet so beautiful the world of real HR is. 

Coupled with some experiential narratives, the way these management students listen with vivid expressions, they have begun to make me feel like one old HR-granny storytelling forever. At 
Jaipuria Institute of Management. 

Corporate Storytelling: Gender Stereotyping

Sharing stories on gender stereotyping, biases and breaking the frame of glass ceiling. At IIM, conducting MDP for enthusiastic working women from ONGC. 

Corporate Storytelling: Leadership Wisdom

When HR fraternity coming together also become buddies! A full house session to share leadership stories with. Amity University it is. 

Corporate Storytelling: Knowledge and Innovation 

That moment when HR wallahs go unstoppable! Just ask them to talk on knowledge or innovation or competitive sustainability. This is from the National Conference at IILM, where we chaired the planery session. A long sought breather!

Corporate Storytelling: Bridging the Generation Gap 
Invited to conduct a workshop on bridging generational gap at workplace at BHEL. Training like these in which top to middle management enthusiastically participates is like a treat for us. 

Corporate Storytelling: National HR Summit

Invited as Keynote Speaker at IIIT-B

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