Dear 2017,

Vasanthi Shwetha, III Year B. A. Economics.

Tell me those stories
that I haven’t been told
Tell me stories that
have been ripped apart
by faithful lies,
tell me stories where
villains have won
and heroes have lost,
where evil has
won over good,
tell me good is good
because few believe so
and bad is sometimes
all the good that few wanted to silence
show me colours I haven’t seen,
tell me chameleons aren’t to
be cursed through human similes, for they are too part of the creation.

Tell me stories of failures
that will show me what
can go wrong despite every right step, whisper into my ears
the secret of a failure’s courage and brandish the words of those
who tell me only winners are inspiring.
Allow me to listen to the
titters of time, tucking in the blunt corners of naivety into
my rib cage, crushing all
the fear that I once never knew.
Break the rulers
that make succinct lines
and angles across blank pages,
for  my scars don’t look an
ounce similar, my scars are zizag, incomplete pathways to my past.

Tell me that I should believe in forever, not because everything in this world will remain safe and intact but because they will break, fade and disappear and yet I will hold on to it to make sure it doesn’t die
Don’t tell me how much fat my chocolate truffle contains,
tell me how many calories my  grudges, hatred and jealousy contains, tell me love is the exercise that I should practice.
Don’t fool me into believing that you will be a perfect year,
tell me that you’re going to be brutal at times and kind at others, but just promise me that you won’t rob away my smile,
even if you see blood beneath it.

Tell me that I going to thank more people, grow more mature by embracing all the innocence within me.
Tell me, I am going to listen to more stories, tell me I am going see my reflection in their tears,
tell me I am going pick all the broken pieces of laughter
and write an anthology,
Tell me just one more thing,
just one last thing,
tell me that I am going to keep flowing like a river and no matter what I will never give up my search for the ocean.

Movie Review: La La Land

“Madness is key to give us new colours to see”

Sneha Mary Christall, II MA English.

I must admit I find musicals a tad disconcerting, with the exception of The Sound of Music and Grease. I inevitably roll my eyes when an actor breaks into song and dance, and quickly lose any interest I had. So the only reason I gave myself for watching La La Land was that it is directed by Damien Chazelle, whose film Whiplash was masterclass (excuse the pun).

For those who have already seen the Emma Stone- Ryan Gosling pairing in Crazy, Stupid Love, La La Land serves as the perfect companion. Gosling’s womanising qualities in Crazy, Stupid Love, are replaced by a dreamy, brooding musician in La La Land. Where Stone rejects Gosling’s advances in CSL, LLL shows Gosling turning her down. But, I digress.

Just one of the film’s subliminal messages that you can pick out is the use of blue and purple tones throughout, lending to its dreamy, whimsical quality. The initial scenes between the leads, Mia and Sebastian, play out seamlessly. So when they break into dance at the car park, it isn’t a waste of “A Lovely Night”, even if they seem to think so.

Perhaps Chazelle’s best decision though, is his underplay of Mia and Sebastian’s chemistry. Rather than building on their inevitable romance, their individual dreams become the focus of the movie. Mia aspires to be an actor while Sebastian believes in jazz. Jazz again is an acquired taste. When Sebastian initiates her into his musical choices, she grows to believe in his dream. Even as he gives up jazz for more commercially viable mainstream music, she doesn’t give up on him. Her acting career picks up when he encourages her to attend one last audition. In the scene where he drives down to her hometown to pick her up, he honks his car in one long protest till she gets in. This probably is a witty dig at the iconic Say Anything scene where Lloyd announces his arrival at Diane’s house with a boombox.

Quite naturally, you root for Mia’a acting career to take off and for Sebastian to begin his jazz club. And when they glide and soar through the Griffith Observatory, you begin to realise that ‘lala’ can only truly exist in song and dance, and the realm of possibility. But if you listen close enough, you can still hear it. La La Land is essentially a love story, Chazelle’s love story with jazz and the old school Hollywood charm of Los Angeles. But most of all, it is a story of hope, and we could always do with more of those.

When my friend and I left the theatre, we felt light and disoriented. We mistook the elevator that went down for the one going up. We took ages to find our parking spot. Maybe part of us was reluctant to leave ‘la la land’, where “madness is key to give us new colours to see”.

[Photo Source: Internet]

The Cinema and Those Who Watch It

Annapoorni K. H., I Year M. Sc. Chemistry.

Cinema is a word that everyone knows. Along with cinema we associate things like theatres, actors, music, visual effects, even tears. However, most of us don’t associate the word influence with cinema.

What do we watch in movies these days? Pretty much everything from inspiring true stories to the humdrum romantic comedies and even erotica. We watch what we like to watch. And we get influenced by it, even if we’d rather not admit it.

How? Well, let’s take an example. And I’ll start with myself. I love movies that will leave me feeling inspired and ready to face the world. So, that would include movies like The Theory of Everything and Dangal to cite a few.  I also happen to like action-packed, fast-paced movies. Each one of us likes a particular thing about movies and because of that we have preferred genres, actors, directors and plot-lines. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

And yet, cinema influences in ways we don’t really realize. The content in movies is very wide, open, and sometimes, even brazen these days. Children can be kept away from such content through censor certificates or parental guidance, yet how many movies have content that might affect the mind of a young child that manages to get through these checks? Children grow up watching the things happening around them including a lot of influence from cinema. Why? Well, visual stimuli last longer in the brain. That’s precisely why visual modes of teaching are being incorporated in educational centres around the world.

The makers of a movie have to keep certain things in mind. While they are involved in the entertainment business, theirs is a job that has a large and significant moral code. Anyone who is involved in the film industry should think how will the people take this when they’re making a movie. And this shouldn’t be just in the sense of profit but also in terms of moral. If suppose there’s a movie on a boy who kills the girl he loves because she doesn’t return his feelings, then the movie should be handled with great care. Films showing personal mental suffering or delicate issues like sexual orientation should be handled intelligently because the content is sensitive. While a lot of film-makers do keep the sensibilities of the audience in their mind, there are those who don’t.

What do we do as an audience? A large part of the audience that watches a movie is doing that for just entertainment. Some of us carry it back home with us – we ponder and come to conclusions about the movie and its content. However, it becomes a question of how we understand ourselves and how we treat the movie on the whole. We pick up slangs, fashion, dialogues and sometimes, even ideas from the movies we watch. How many young people wanted to experience a love like Jack and Rose from Titanic? How many people do we see who worship actors as gods? But those are some of the better and positive things. There’s a darker side – audience that understand that serial killing is alright, people who accept terrorism as a part of life and can get influenced by it, rape, murder, adultery…we watch all this and we accept them. Because it’s just cinema, isn’t it? That’s something for us to ponder on.

Manali: Nature Bound and Beyond

Medha Kinger, III Year B. Commerce.

Trekking has always been on one’s bucket list, amidst nature and away from technology – the best combination in today’s world. Compared to all the kinds of trips a person can take, trekking is the most tedious and yet the most satisfying. I decided to tag along with 29 other people to explore the beauty of Solang Valley, in Manali, Himachal Pradesh, and this seven day trip taught me lessons my nineteen years couldn’t.

The journey to the valley was very picturesque, with mountain valleys, small districts, greyish rocks and tiny bridges across the rivers that looked like an adventure in themselves. At a pit stop, we all couldn’t help but dig into a bowl of Maggi. One thing the mountains make you realise is that Maggi is soul food. We arrived at Solang on the 25th of December. We celebrated Christmas with local kids. They were so content on seeing the Christmas tree. In the city we almost forget to enjoy the little things life has to offer!

The next day, we headed out on a date with nature, the valley abundant with small rivers, tiny bridges, tall trees, local people and their bright smiles, mules walking around us and steep pathways. We were getting used to everything and breathing the fresh air. The view from the top was breath-taking, encompassing the snow-capped mountains and the entire valley. We then headed towards the Solang waterfall with its jaw-dropping permanent rainbow, which we couldn’t take our eyes off. The view was worth every time I felt I was going to fall.

On the last day we trekked to Mount Patalsu. We walked for approximately 9 kilometres, reaching almost 10,000 feet above sea level. This day tested one’s mental strength too. There was a base camp set up for us at one point. Some could stop there and return. We also had an enthusiastic lot who went further ahead to reach a part of the peak. More than the view, the sense of satisfaction of reaching that height was what made lunch that day tastier.

Self-realisation amidst nature has its own beauty. Trips like this can definitely change one’s perspective regarding various issues. The mountains can humble a person. One also realises the value of life and resources. This is not something to be shared but felt. The mental and physical strength required for a trek will make you discover a lot of things about yourself. Once you’re back you will definitely feel a change.

Saudi Arabia: The Land Balancing the Old and New

Hafsa Badsha, II Year M. A. Enlgish

The first thing I see when I enter the airport in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is a gleaming Sbarro’s pizza bar right opposite the immigration counter, with people in burqas and long white robes milling around it. It’s all very Lawrence of Arabia meets your generic mall experience, and certainly isn’t the first image of the country I’d expected. It does set the tone of the next few days in Madinah and Mecca, with Saudi Arabia proving to be a land of constant binaries, a melding of an old, traditional regime coupled with a population trying to find its place in a new century.

My first stop is Madinah, a four hour drive across the desert from Jeddah. The city is full of stone houses perched on top of mountain cliffs, muddy, dusty streets, and the occasional skyscraper and shopping centre. But it’s the haram, the portion of the city built around the Masjid Al-Nabawi that houses the pilgrims, that is the true hub of the city, pulsing with life at all hours of the day. Days in Madinah begin as early as 4 in the morning, with the call to prayer. And while staggering back to my hotel room to sleep in is a comforting thought, there is one very crucial thing in my way; the morning market. Madinah’s souk come alive before the sun rises, and is one of its most unique experiences, selling jewellery, clothes, and scarves. There are so many people in the town square that traders throw their wares up in the air so that you can catch a glimpse amongst the throng, shouting prices and haggling furiously, a process that is repeated until the late hours of the night.

The pilgrims I meet come from everywhere: Indonesians, Egyptians, Americans, various parts of Europe. They’re armed with selfie sticks and smartphones; it’s a spiritual experience full of group pictures outside the mosque, hashtags and check-ins on Facebook. Surprisingly, not everyone sticks to the standard black burqa and white thobe (a long white garment worn by Arab men); there are bright, pastel dresses, salwar kameezes and high waisted skirts, and long loose sports jerseys worn over jeans. And though the diversity of cultures is astounding, communication can be difficult, especially when English is barely spoken by anyone. Though Arabic is the standard and a lot of sign language is resorted to, it’s French that’s extensively used by thousands of people, due to the number of Arab immigrants from Morocco, Algeria and Libya.

Mecca is where I go next, and the crowds there make Madinah look empty. Mecca is a constant roar of people coming at you in waves, forcing you to wait for everything from entering the Kabah to buying food for at least half an hour. Sit down restaurants are virtually non-existent except in hotels, which along with chain restaurants, charge exuberant rates. Mecca’s street food, a maze of different stalls and cuisines, is what people flock to, with everything from the iconic Arab shwarma to some very interestingly spelled choices, like my personal favourites, the “Chicken Zinker,” and “Neggits,” to choose from.

With a sun that is literally blinding, most afternoons are spent in the safety of the Abraj Al-Bait Shopping Centre. There’s the usual Giordano, Guess, and Chanel but it’s the local Arab sellers found on the lower levels that draw the crowds, with richly woven tapestries, boxes of fresh dates and oud, a strong perfume, unique to the Arab world.

The shopping arcade isn’t the only haven away from the crowd and heat. On my second day, I stumble upon a secret garden of sorts; the King Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz extension. A newly-constructed part of the mosque, it’s one of the city’s finest architectural masterpieces, with gold chandeliers that hang between looming, marble arches, intricately patterned stained glass and thick, soft carpets, a secret that the few who know jealousy guard.

As a country that comes with a conservative government and an abundance of rules, you won’t find your traditional holiday getaway in Saudi Arabia. But you may just discover a land steeped with history, filled with a kaleidoscope of different people, and a few other cities that never sleep. Just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen.

Movie Review: Dangal

Jerusha Jose, III Year B. V. A. Fine Arts

As a girl with a mallu father and a Tamil mother, who has lived all her life in Chennai, I had grown up relying on only English as a mode of communication and comprehension as I had never had a flair for languages. So when a friend invited me to watch Dangal, I was reluctant since it wouldn’t do the movie justice if I stared at the lower half of the theatre screen through the movie for the subtitles.

But it took my friend very little convincing to get me to tag along to watch the movie, since it had Aamir Khan as the lead. I had watched one Hindi movie previously, just one, and that movie was 3 Idiots, which explains why I fell in love with Aamir Khan.

By the end of the three hours I spent at the theatre, it was quite evident I had gone for Aamir Khan, stayed for the art direction but, inconceivably, was moved by the storyline.

In the story department, Dangal offers few surprises because Geeta and Babita’s historic wins at the Commonwealth Games and following championships are common knowledge. However, this screen adaptation serves as a recap of their arduous journey and it faithfully recaptures their stubborn father’s resolve to make them professional wrestlers against all odds. Since it encapsulates the historic wins of the Phogats, who brought India glory, the film is also bound to inspire more women to seriously consider kushti as a sport.

What works wonderfully here is the writing. Director Nitesh Tiwari, along with Piyush Gupta, Shreyas Jain and Nikhil Meharotra should be complimented for the film’s tongue-in-cheek quality, peppered with humour and several poignant father-daughter emotions. Of course, a little bit is lost to me in translation because of the average subtitles and to my friends thanks to the Haryanvi twang. But, messages on the obsession with the male child (prevalent since the dark ages), the myopic stand on bringing up daughters and the administration’s pathetic disposition towards sports, are loud and clear.

There comes a time when a star gives in wholly to the demands of a role which he knows will make him look unappealing: as a wannabe wrestler past his prime, Aamir Khan is squat, with a heavy belly, a deliberate gait, and a grizzled beard in Dangal. Only his jutting ears are familiar: the rest of him is pure character.

We are going to have to measure Aamir Khan’s future performances with this one: as Mahavir Singh Phogat, failed wrestler, rough-hewn authoritarian, but caring husband and father of four girls, he scales it up to a point where you can see the star take on a character, try it for size, and make it his own.

That was crucial for us to believe in Dangal, which borrows several elements from the real-life Haryana wrestler who trained his older two daughters, Geeta (played by Fatima Sana Shaikh) and Babita (played by Sanya Malhotra), in the art of wrestling, and turned them into winners.

Dangal works on the twin parameters it sets up for itself. One is a straight-forward film about a popular sport and those who play it: we feel and smell the mitti of the akhara, the daav pench (No, I didn’t master Hindi in a day, I had a friend help) that truly skilled wrestlers use to face down formidable foes. We see the blood, sweat and tears that go into the making of champions.

The other is a strong feminist statement about girls being the equal of boys, if not better, in an area they’ve never been seen in, let alone accepted. When Mahavir steps into that tricky arena, he is derided and ridiculed: so are his young female charges, as well as their mother (played by Sakshi Tanwar) who could not bear sons.

In the Khap-ridden state of Haryana, where baby girls are still murdered at birth, and ‘honour killing’ is practiced with impunity and condoned (you may be over 18, but you have no right over your life), there cannot be a more important statement, especially when it comes from such a big star.

As an art student, I was amazed at the art direction as minor details were narrated with such precision and vitality. From Geeta brushing off sand from her newly buzzed hair with the sunrise as a background for the spectrum of colours one could imagine in a traditional Haryana home. The movie wasn’t only a visual treat, with the titular songs and the soundtrack displaying a fragment of a larger anthology.

The movie will toy with your emotions, make you proud of being a woman, and will, definitely, allow you to fall in love with every character in a unique way.

The four girls, who bring Geeta and Babita to life, were each decked with determination, passion, brilliant acting skills and one heck of a training with respect to the sport in question – Dangal, Wrestling.

Though this movie avoided turning into a vanity project, which is a clear and present danger when it comes to anything involving big stars. It could have been made more polished than required. In places it is stolid, and could have done with some lift, but it is strong all the way through. And, most crucially, it stays real, because the star ratchets it up when required, and lets it go in the rest.

[Photo Source: Wikipedia]

Pressurising The Press

Farasha Pharis, III Year B. A. Economics

It may have been called the fourth estate back in its heyday, yet today the estate is being executed. The executor is curbing the press’ rights to expression, its position as an unbiased observer and its duty to inquire. Taking away the press’ rights has been seen as an act of cowardice throughout history. Kings have done it to protect their place on the throne. Colonizers have done it to prevent the uproar for freedom and now governments are doing it to fool the public.

The press has changed in this generation. It went from ‘they’ to ‘us’. With social media, blogs and anonymous posts everyone was willing to play. Some bet on the safety of numbers (‘in this sea of people, no one will find me’). Some are outspoken and willing to take the risk because going ‘viral’ makes you invincible (‘no one can bring me down without a show’). Between two vastly different circulators of news, the journalists have been side-lined. They don’t have safety in numbers, protection or even a sense of assurance. Journalists are safe neither in the field nor behind a news desk. If I can’t verify news about an election because only one agency has covered it while others feared the ruling party, I am misinformed and robbed off my right to information.

We see widespread silence replace outrage. Even if a media outlet is able to cover an event without any biasedness, the affected party gets away with a single line, ‘that news was fake, I will sue them’. The print media is dying and we are responsible for it. The free news we receive from these very outlets through their apps and social media accounts are killing the advertisement sales that keep them afloat. When does integrity step aside to let profit making step in?

The BBC and The Economist are two from a handful of companies that have held their ground. This constantly backfires on them. With Al-Jazeera in a perpetual judicial fight against Egypt, who detains their journalists almost as a routine since first covering the Arab Springs, their willingness to put their people in such a position will decline. Trump’s only valid argument ever was that CNN is biased; this stands true but his policy to deal with this is an echo of all his other policies – irrational and impulsive.

Just as innovations and inventions travel across borders, so does gagging and intimidation. From one country to another we ape and follow suit. When one curbed rights silently by detaining journalists on grounds of ‘national security’, another attacked a key player as if to warn others. Banning a news agency is a politically manipulated move that seeps into every individual’s fundamental rights.

When we are told how to live and what to say by a governing body, it is a dictatorship. When the press is being gagged, it is an emergency period. When our freedom of expression is curbed through indirect intimidation, it is a blunt threat. When all of this happens together, we are doomed.

The Inner Goddess Academy

Connect to your Inner Goddess

Akhila Nambiar, III Year B. A. English.

Women empowerment has become a topic of great importance among the present generation, for a variety of reasons. Quite often it is seen that a lot of organizations are formed solely with this idea of giving women a space to be free and happy. One such organization that started off recently, and has a lot of youngsters volunteering to help propel their aim forward, is The Inner Goddess Academy. It functions as a group of ten people who work towards inspiring women to discover themselves, fulfill their potential and pursue their dreams and passion.

An initiative that started around May 2016, The Inner Goddess Academy focuses on women’s leadership development through customized experience management. Founded by Anannya Parekh, who calls the start-up her “brain child”, and co-founded by Kavya Tadakaluri, the group primarily aims to inspire the women who reach out to them, through various creative outlets, workshops and moving sessions. They help connect these women to the outside world where they are introduced to mentors and have access to different forums to showcase their talent and passion. On a deeper level, The Inner Goddess Academy enables women to access their inner self and learn to accept themselves for who they are.

The reason behind the development of this far-reaching project was due to the countless problems women face, be it major or minor issues, in their daily lives. For instance, despite the gender uniformity in the field of education, a lot of women are compelled to fight gross sexism and face blatant discrimination in the society they live in. Therefore, the Inner Goddess Academy strives to minimalize this gender gap and scout the country for talent once they gain enough recognition.

The executions of these ideas are done by outsourcing them to various people and investors who would help accelerate the initiative taken by the organization. This is done to ensure that women, specifically between the ages of 17 and 29, get the opportunity to experience or take up any form of leadership position with respect to the field they have a passion in and build something that they can call their own. The team at Inner Goddess has built “personalized holistic platforms” where people will be able to accomplish their potential and train themselves with the essential tools required to be at the top of the innovation scale. The members of the organization are subjected to a one-on-one session with the growing network of inspiring mentors who teach them how to go about achieving their goals. Moreover, the academy follows the motto “Inspiration, Connection and Action” which, in a way, speaks for itself.

Since the core committee of the organization comprises of a lot of college students, they decided to put up a stall to promote the academy at a cultural event held at Stella Maris College on 17th September. At the stall, the girls sold badges that had powerful slogans written on them, such as “Girl Boss”, “#SLAY” and “Flawless” which many students were able to relate to. Along with badges, the stall also had fun, motivational posters that sold out pretty quickly.

Talking to Aparna Krishnan, the Chief Operations Operator who works for Customer Experience at the organization, she says “What we do at Customer Experience is guarantee that our clients’ journey with us is extremely beautiful! The kinds of sessions that we conduct are solely for the purpose of ensuring that they learn; that they are able to grow and motivate themselves to do better”.

The Inner Goddess Academy seeks to make the society a better place for women who are looking for avenues to express themselves, achieve their dreams and reach the different goals they set. A question that is often asked is “Why are there less number of women leaders in the world?” and “What can we do to change that?” For most of the girls at Inner Goddess, this is a notion that they strongly believe in.

Check out TIGA’s website: www.the-iga.com
Else contact them at connect@the-iga.com

Club of the Month: Dramatics Club

Nikita Pinto, III B.A. English

In conversation with Farasha Pharis, President of the Dramatics Club, and Ananya Agrawalla, Treasurer, on what it takes to be a Stella Player.

In one corner, a couple of students paint posters, while a few work on last-minute adjustments on the stage, fixing the lights and placing the props. The actors take their places on stage, quickly rehearsing memorised lines from the script in their minds, ready to create magic with their words and flawless expressions.

The curtain rises. And the drama begins.

But as you look at the actors in their resplendent costumes, thoroughly accurate in the portrayal of the times, what you may fail to notice is, that this unique work of art, this little world of humongous possibilities isn’t just permeated by performers, but an entire cohesive unit, consisting of directors, producers, make-up artists, set and costume designers, marketing, and sponsorship managers.

Ananya says, “It’s a complete experience. It’s not just about acting or for people who want to act. There’s make-up, set design and other avenues for those who aren’t into acting.” The club, therefore, debunks the stereotypical myth surrounding theatre, being that its primary focus is on acting and stage performance. “Production is essential to a play. You get a chance to be on stage and behind the stage. For the Evam Theatricals, I got the opportunity to help with the props, which is important to any staged play,” she adds.

The Evam Theatricals is just one of the many activities that the club organised this academic year. Workshops in collaboration with popular theatre houses such as The Madras Players and Little Theatre take place every Saturday and Sunday and are open to everyone. The club is even planning on putting up a special performance on the 11th of February, as part of the Club Day celebrations.

Membership to the club is open to all; however, when production houses recruit from campus, there is a selection process involved. “We try to have a different audition process, so that [participants] can get diverse experiences. We’ve had script readings, monologues and other forms of auditioning,” explains Farasha.

The Drama Club isn’t the only club that engages in the performing arts on stage, yet it is rare to see performances of the group during college events, unlike other performing clubs. The reason behind this is the lack of time available to practise. “The slot we get for the cultural performances is too short. Plays need at least ten minutes,” says Farasha. Time is crucial for theatre, a key factor to an impactful performance. They, therefore, cannot perform as often as other clubs which can easily put up a performance within five or six minutes.  “We also can’t stick to the same forms. We have to come up with new dialogues and other ways of expression,” she adds.

The process of staging a play is a herculean task indeed, with several sub-committees such as script-writing, auditions, lighting, make-up, marketing, props and sponsorship; all which take up to a month to organise. Their favourite part of the process? Ananya says, “The entire thing! You see so much and you get exposure while giving others an opportunity.”

What is their biggest achievement? “Evam Theatricals,” they both agree in unison. “It was a first-of-a-kind in Chennai, a public performance that was completely done by the students. It was like having a show. We even had a different concept of judging the winners, by voting. The behind-the-stage team and the entire team did well. We had one of the best theatre houses in Chennai guiding us.” Ananya adds, “The response was very encouraging. We had a ton of volunteers and student participation was massive. Even the judges were fairly impressed as we were well-organized and ahead of time.”

Marketing, too, is essential as it gets the word around about their performances. The marketing head of the club, Trishia Santhus, emphasised on the importance of marketing in drawing large audiences, saying, “It’s tough, especially since this was a new venture. But we a got a lot of response; in fact, our page has gotten more people even after the show.”

All the office bearers agree that the Evam Theatricals gave them an entirely different experience than their usual performances at college. For one, they gained exposure to the inner-workings of theatre in the city. They were also involved in the backstage processes, something which they did not have much experience with previously.

Farasha says, “Working with Evam Theatricals has been great. We could conduct workshops and some of our students were even able to get an internship with the company. The participation was huge, with many of our members helping with the props and the backstage. The response was amazing; out of the 54 people who signed up, 5 got selected for the internship.”

On the subject of the major problems they encounter in the field of drama, Farasha highlights the issue of funding, saying, “It’s difficult to get sponsorship for theatre. For the Evam Theatricals, it was self-funding and we didn’t make much profit.” For smaller funds, they were able to rely on friends and family, but the majority of the resources received were self-funded. Sponsorship requires certain benefits that the club cannot do, like putting up a stall to promote a certain product. Therefore, the club members often have to resort to self-funding, which becomes an expensive process. However, the Stella management has been supportive of their cause as they were able to open a bank account for funds, which makes them, interestingly, the only club in college with a bank account.

The annual college play, put up by the Club, however, works differently. The club is fully responsible for all the procedures involved in staging the play, unlike their collaborations with outside companies where there is shared responsibility. Practice usually begins between October and November and the play is staged in early February. The members engage in a lot of exercises so as to understand their characters, and they learn how to dissect them using techniques of character analysis.

On the status of drama in Chennai, Ananya says, “There has been a lot of interest and talent these past three years. Many shows have been put up in the city, encouraging students to participate. It’s a good time to be in theatre, which has been evolving steadily in Chennai.”  While big banner production houses come to campuses, regional theatres do not appear to be progressing much. Both agree that there has been a loss, a setback when it comes to Tamil theatre, primarily because of the predominance of English theatre in the metropolitan city.

When asked about what plays they would like to stage in the future, Farasha says “Anything engaging like a mystery or a comedy; something that would capture the interest of the audience within a space of ten minutes.” Ananya says, “Generally, everyone looks for comedies as it is stress-relieving. Irrespective of whether the audience is distracted, or uninterested, the actor should be able to perform. But, at the same time, the audience should be respectful. It does take a lot of work and effort, and it’s (demotivating) when they talk or use their phones or don’t pay attention.”

As to why they love acting, Ananya says, “It’s about understanding yourself, a kind of realisation when you try to become another character. You become another person.” The feeling resonates with all members of the club, who find their experience as a Stella Player a thoroughly fulfilling one.

[Photo Source: Evam Theatricals Facebook Page.]

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