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Arts Entertainment

Hungry Hearts by Sohaila Charnalia

Written by guest writer Shekhar Kapur

Ok, so we tend to get a little patronizing about our own family members, especially when that person happens to be your younger sister. You kind of tend to pat them on their back and treat them like a child and then look back at your life and realize how utterly stupid that attitude was. It was a typical attitude of a Punjabi elder brother completely confused about his responsibilities towards her.

So now my younger sister Sohaila is doing things that make me sit up and take notice. Things in my own field. Things that are quite awesome. She has started the Hungry Hearts Festival in Delhi. They need support and I will let Sohaila’s own words take over. I am supporting them and if there is anyone else out there that would like to do so in any way , please write to Sohaila.

Hungry Heart Festival, a registered society, co founded by Monica Bhasin, Sohaila Kapur and Smita Bharti, is a New Delhi based initiative that promotes theatre, filmmaking and the visual arts, empowering creative professionals to turn their visions into realities

Hungry Heart Festival, a registered society, co founded by Monica Bhasin, Sohaila Kapur and Smita Bharti, is a New Delhi based initiative that promotes theatre, filmmaking and the visual arts, empowering creative professionals to turn their visions into realities.

It all began the day the four of us sat down to complain. Two of us had lives beating us down….anti-stress pills, rebellious kids, struggles to put in place careers that would have been easier to handle had we been men, or simply, if we had decided to compromise ourselves. The third grumbled about the tight family bonds that were strangulating her. While the fourth was fighting to keep her partner from straying. All of us badly needed a break from the whirlpool of inane activity that we called life.

`Let’s do a play’, one of us shouted…..

…..It seemed a good way out and we clinked our beer glasses in unison. `F…the world’ the second one shouted, `if the world wants a performance, we’ll give them one’. The other two agreed and a pact was signed and sealed that night.

The Hungry Heart Theatre Group was born that day. Why did we give ourselves that strange name? Because we were bleeding hearts, hungering for some real action. And theatre, cathartic as it was, gave us that. That was in 2005 and we’re still going strong.

People wonder how we haven’t fizzled out in an age of break-ups, when individual egos dominate over group loyalty. And my answer is that we sincerely believe in unity in diversity, which has helped us survive. Each one of us brings a different talent to the group and that is what makes it tick.

We do have our disagreements and creative battles where we fiercely defend our respective turfs . We even lost a founder member who had to return to England because of visa problems, but hey, we’re still around and hope to be for a long time to come. And even though we’ve held grand festivals in conjunction with our partner, The Hindustan Times since 2005 (only missed out on the 2008 one, because of the economic crunch, when sponsors fled the scene), we’ve still a long way to go.

Apart from the festival, where we invited other groups to perform, we’ve also been holding one-off shows, which are usually written and directed by one of us. One of them was a musical, that pays tribute to India’s entertainment hub, Mumbai, and its industry, Bollywood. What could be a more cathartic experience for work tired brains than a song and dance extravaganza, in other words, a Bollywood film unraveling on stage? With the advantage of being live? And `Mahim Junction’ was born!

The musical held its premiere in India on Dec 5. Uncannily, some of the incidents in the story, written initially in 1997, have actually played out in Mumbai post 2003, including the serial blasts. In that sense, the musical also works as a tribute to the resilient spirit of Mumbai.

Repeat shows in Delhi are on April 18 and 19, 2009, at the Epicentre (at Apparel House), in Gurgaon and on May 1, 2009, at the India Islamic Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi.

To check out the musical’s history, awards, press reviews in the UK and India and its photo album, go to mahimjunction.blogspot.com.

Shekhar Kapur is a noted film maker with international repute. One of the few Bollywood directors to make a career in the U.S., Shekhar Kapur has proved his filmmaking worth in both countries. You can read his blog here.

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