Thai Travelogue -1

Phuket, Thailand

Well, the first stop (apart from a short layover at Bangkok airport) was Phuket, the beautiful beach town of Thailand. Maybe because it was the end of the tourist season and the rains setting in, the crowd was sparse unlike in Pattaya or other beach towns. Anyhow, that was the reason we chose Phuket over Pattaya which was closer to all the other places we wanted to visit. But it was well worth it. There are many districts in Phuket and you can choose where to stay depending on how you want to spend your holiday. There is the central district which is closer to the piers, which have boat services to all the neighbouring islands including Phi-Phi. There is the district in Patong beach which is the happening commercial district and has most of the night entertainment. There are good accommodations available close to the beach for the morning walks and sun bathing and the Bangla street famous for its night life which is alive all the way into the wee hours of the morning.

Phuket Beach

Phuket Beach

Phuket Beach

Kho Kai Beach

Snorkelling on Koh Kai beaches, lazing on the beaches of Koh Bon, Koh Kaew islands all just a half hour ride by long tail boat or motor boats. Phi Phi island is a good distance away and needs to be done on a boat and has places to stay overnight. Unfortunately we couldn’t make it as the boat left the pier at 9AM and we had to start from where we stayed atleast by 7:30 which was too early for the 5 of us to get ready. But then its again and again snorkeling and lazing in the beach around different islands, but then trust me it’s a thing not to be missed. Post the boat ride, we headed back to the place we were staying where one of my friends had to leave back to KL to work. So dropped him off at the airport, parked the car and headed straight out into Bangla street for dinner. There is no dearth for live music out there, every other bar had good bands playing. It was a welcome break from the Chennai club rules and covered footwear policies as we could walk around in shorts and slippers just like everyone else around.

The next day we wanted to just roam around Phuket, stay on land and do nothing in particular. We just drove around the city and hit the zoo which was too expensive at 500Baht, then moved to the aquarium.

Gold Fish at Phuket Aquarium

Gold Fish at Phuket Aquarium

I think it was a worthwhile thing we did, the aquarium was very good and was pretty big. We then lazed around some other beaches and headed to watch the sunset from sunset point we had spotted on the map called Promthep Cape. But as all unplanned trips have, we made an unplanned stop at some beach which was not marked in the map but was a beautiful rocky beach. We decided to stop there and watch the sunset from there itself. It was a good decision in the end as we had our own sunset point rather than having a hundred others around.

Sunset at our own viewpoint

Sunset at our own viewpoint

Not to be left out, we still drove all the way up to the sunset point to see what exactly was there. We spent some time exploring the closed badly lit area around the sunset point as everyone else seemed to be hurriedly leaving. It was my friend’s birthday so we decided to celebrate and headed back to the hotel to Bangla street, were up till midnight, spent some time there but then headed back to the hotel as we were to check out and head out as early as possible to hit the 16hr long drive to our next destination.

For more pictures, you can check out my flickr link on the left side panel.

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Travelogue

Over the next few posts, I will be describing my week long trip to Thailand. Well, as advertised it truly is Amazing Thailand. I guess this is one of the very few trips which we planned well in advance and actually executed, but then we planned to go there, hire a car and that’s it, the rest of the trip was as random as it could get. For me, it did start off on a bad note, with my flight getting grounded due to technical issues (the steering of the plane not working) and actually pushed back my schedule by a whole day. But I guess we’ll skip that part and continue with the better part of the story, which is the vacation itself. I hope to make this series a travel experience and a guide for those who want to visit lesser known places in Thailand. The travel experience, followed by food reviews and then finally a review of the places we stayed.

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The Blue Mug – The Company Theatre

The starcast it boasted of itself was more than enough to draw crowds to the theatre. It has been running for 8 years now. Its in the waning phase – as put by the director, Atul. They may not continue staging this for much longer in its current format to be precise. With names like Konkana Sen Sharma (a pity she couldn’t make it for the play this time around), Rajat Kapoor, Ranvir Shorey, Vinay Pathak starring in it, the play couldn’t be that bad, could it? And it was the first show to be sold out. People running around to find a seat for themselves showed that Chennai had taken notice and turned out in large numbers to bid adieu to this edition of the theatre fest. With this play for a fitting finale, I guess there will be more expectations for the next years edition for sure.

Loosely and I would say very very loosely baed on the book by psychiatrist Oliver Sacks, the play in itself, has no script! It’s based on memories. Plain human memories, memories of the cast, memories of friends, memories of holidays, memories of festivals, memories of celebration, memories of love, memories of death. Plain old memories – something we take for granted many times. On the sidelines is something to emphasize why memory is important. Interesting takes. Was wondering how an empty stage – sans any props be the ideal setting for a play and the same stage was transformed into so many different things and many living and non-living things were brought to life for the audience through the descriptions of the narrators(the actors in this case). The only thing that remains at the end of the play are abstract things written on the boards and memories of the memories of the narrators! It is the kind of play that has a hangover long after you have left the theatre. Hitting you with what happened there when you think of the play. For a play on memory, that is something great to achieve.

I had one major problem with the play though. A lot of the script or whatever there was of it was in Hindi. Not that it was hard to understand, but when you stage a play in Chennai where majority of the population don’t speak the language and when the play is being staged in a theatre fest by a Leading English Daily, you just don’t expect a non-English play unless forewarned. I know some people will come up with an argument that there was an Korean play right at the beginning of the seven days, but may I remind that it was a mime and puppet play, which is language agnostic. I think there could be a small level of customization they can do when they stage the play in non-Hindi speaking regions. The director sure did feign ignorance and oversight for this when asked, I guess when the production house is not new to Chennai and this is their 6th performance for the city some things need to be kept in mind. You need to explain to the person sitting next to you what exactly the dialogue meant as they don’t speak the language which kind of ruins the whole theatre going experience for the people around.

Given all that, it truly was a fitting finale. An overall review of the fest and the general things I liked and didn’t like about it comes up in the next post.

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The Interview – Akvarious Productions

Well it promised to be contemporary, about Indian corporate life and about an interview in which each of us can imagine ourselves. What interested me was ‘contemporary’ and ‘Indian corporate’, two words that I can easily relate myself with today. So gave it a shot, must say I am not completely disappointed but neither am I totally convinced that it was a good play.

It started very well. Hilarious dialogues, the acting was good. Characterization was good. The lean, nervous interviewee, the loud, fat interviewer, the nail filing secretary, the loitering for gossip, waiting to please the boss subordinate it all fit in perfectly well. But mid way into the play, the plot was lost, there was over-dramatization and worst of all the acting became too loud. Though it was just a bad 30mins in the play, long after the play is over that half hour is what still lingers in my mind. The more than decent first half just doesn’t return back, the end doesn’t justify what was otherwise atleast a decent play.

I think it’s a problem with most Indian playwrights. There is only so much that you can stretch a premise till it becomes an overdose or gets lost in the midst of the confusion.  I am sure a fifty minute play will do just fine, it needn’t be 90mins long always.

Maybe it’s just the hangover of a good previous play that overshadows this one. But definitely could have been given a miss. the hangover of a good previous play that overshadows this one. But definitely could have been given a miss.

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The Real Inspector Hound – Quaff Productions

I missed 2 plays this first season, one of which I didn’t mind missing; the other I had to miss to be elsewhere. So this was my first taste of this year’s theatre fest and I must say I am impressed. From near empty halls and a few plays that can best be boasted as having been performed at Mumbai and Delhi before here at best, it’s a long journey in the last few years. Having a live performance, and people actually sitting and listening to, in my opinion decent, rendition of Rihana  and applauding the performers was amazing to see. People actually trying the games and caricature stalls too was surprising, but we have been doing that ever since we had trade fairs at Island Ground. But it truly had a fest feel to it.

Even before coming to the play, I just went through some viewer reviews and decided to give this shot at humor a try. I somehow had to erase the very good and humorous ’39 Steps’ before stepping in to see this Whodunit comedy. Given that Kalki Koechlin was a part of cast was a totally different thing which pulled me to the theatre on a Sunday evening. When the play started, I was pretty disappointed, all it had to offer was small slapstick humour, small bits of the script made witty to enthuse the audience. But as it went along, somehow the play intrigued me. Was it a whodunit? Was it a slapstick comedy play? Whatever it was, even during the serious parts, they could bring in the humour and at the same time maintain the suspense in the audience mind. The totally irrelevant first part or so I thought was made so relevant and ultimately key to the plot helped in making it enjoyable even more.

I will be giving away too much if I say anymore. So next time this production is playing at a theatre near you, please ensure you watch it.

Back to the fest as such. I think the organizers should close the doors as the play starts. I didn’t pay 300bucks to watch the guy and girls butt. Atleast if you come late, have the courtesy of waiting till your eyes adjust and then spotting a seat and taking it. Not just in a play, even in a cinema hall.

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Metro Plus Theatre Fest

Coming few days, I will be posting about my experience at this theatre fest in Chennai that is currently happening. There are 3 more plays to catch the coming weekend 19-21st August.

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Ko-llywood so far…

Well after my post on movies in 2010(https://minimumaperture.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/movies-and-2010/) , I have always wanted to write about the movies I have watched so far in 2011. Nothing was worth a mention so far and hence the decision kept being deferred. But I have now reached the point, where I could easily forget movies that I had seen in January – especially the good ones as the bad ones pretty vividly haunting me.

Every year big tamil movie releases are festival based rather than anything else. There used to be a Rajnikanth and Kamalhaasan movie released on the same date and then the fans used to work hard to ensure that one movie lasted in the theatres more than the other. But these days there is only one big budget movie released in a week thanks to intervention from producers association(whose headquarters they can actually shift to Karunanidhi’s dinner table as only his family produces movies). So the “so called” Pongal releases were almost forgettable to say the least. If not for the political tamasha surrounding the release of Kaavalan, it would have gone unnoticed that three movies hit the screens for Pongal.

Aadukalam – This movie was realistic. Yes. Anglo Indian girls are like that, they wear clothes like that. But the realism ends there, no self respecting girl will fall in love with some loose character as in the movie. Nevertheless it was a good movie. You will come out of the hall depressed, but it was good.

Kaavalan – It was decent. No it was not like Main hoon na. If you thought so, pls watch the movie. Vijay has shown acting skills (minimum, but nevertheless). Asin was just ordinary – guess bollywood does that to you.

Ilaingan and Siruthai definitely don’t deserve more than a sentence here, so be it.

Yutham Sei – This was next in line release. Gripping tale, CID cant take action, Realism and all that aside, characterization was pathetic to say the least. It was funny and sometimes to the extent irritating to see Cheran play a cop. He was pleading to more people in the movie than a beggar in front of Kapaleeshwarar Temple.

Thoonga Nagarm – Ok. By this time, I had had enough of movies showing Madurai as rustic and backward and people of the city carrying sickles and knifes as if it were pens. That is not the case. Please visit the town to see how nice and forward it is. Now Madurai even has KFC and Dominos pizza. It has Big Cinemas screening shows where tickets cost Rs. 500 for the first weekend. But still, the movie was passable. Friendship (though at a very cheap and unbelievable pretext) and ensuing things were shown well.

Payanam – Not exactly the valentine release you would expect, but it was a good movie. But coming from the Prakashraj stable with Radhamohan at the helm, you expect it to be good and good it was. Loved the humour, pace and technicality that was shown in the movie. Well they make fun of movies in the movie itself (the initial talk between the commandos) so going by that logic, some liberties are allowed after all.

Nil Gavani Sellathey – A good warning for the viewers not to go for the movie in the title itself. Dragging to say the least. I guess our directors need to learn that unkempt, differently able people are not evil and darkness is not scary.

Maapillai – I haven’t seen this film. But when I asked my friend to come along, he said please sit and watch the Rajni film as this one is not even worth a half hour watch.Goes a long way to say how he felt about the movie. Being Superstar’s son in law alone doesnt guarantee you a ticket to bore people.

Ko – The latest movie that I have seen. A good movie after a long time (payanam was good – but it was a genre not all will enjoy). May be a copy of State of Play. But whatever. It had all the entertainment elements required for the audience. It had the right amount of masala that is required of a hit tamil movie these days. This is a watch for all genre movie. Songs, fights, twists and all. Refreshing movie – each frame was a photograph in itself. I guess you can expect that in a movie directed by a cinematographer. Timing of the release was even perfect, just after people have voted and made a choice. Had this movie come before the elections, the people would have been slightly more confused about whom to vote for.

The coming weeks seem to be promising to say the least – Vaanam(even if its half as good as its telegu version), Theivathirumagan, Engeyum Kaadhal. Later on in the year we can expect – Avan Ivan, Elaam Arivu, Mankatha, Velayudham, Vengai,Nanban. Lets see.

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