Local Productions

Catching up on local productions, we start with Hijra, a production by the New Conservatory Theatre Center . The Chronicle has the goods:

Ancient gender-bending traditions of South Asia reach into the New York of the Indian diaspora in Ash Kotak's "Hijra" at the New Conservatory Theatre Center. Sometimes funny, at times enlightening and generally engaging, the handsomely designed American premiere that opened Saturday is a mildly promising effort a bit too weighed down by sitcom ideas and filmic structures to take flight onstage.

What's most interesting about "Hijra" is the extent to which Kotak sheds light on its titular subject. This is "hijra" not as one of the more common alternate spellings of the "hegira" of Muslim history, but as the ancient group of male-to-female transgenders of mysterious origin and long tradition who often appear, uninvited, to dance at and bless weddings in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The role of hijras in South Asian customs is apparently a blend of Islamic and Hindu traditions, and many held high positions in the courts of the Muslim kings.

Though the review of the production itself is lukewarm, Dishum Dishum patron Maya Capur escapes unscathed. To wit:

It isn't always easy to tell how much in love Nils and Raj are supposed to be. Kotak's dialogue is much more quip- and plot-driven than concerned with character or emotional development, and neither director Andrew Nance nor his actors have been able to fill in the blanks. From Venkatesh's boyishly standoffish performance, it's hard to tell whether Nils has any more real interest in Raj than Sheila until late in the second act. By then, Raj, disguised as a woman, has arrived in New York -- and so have Madhu, Sheila and her ferocious mother (crisply played by Sukanya Sarkar).

With an exceptionally nosy neighbor (a very nice turn by Capur) stirring the pot, Kotak sets the stage for farcical complications he only partly develops.

Way to go, Maya!

Meanwhile, could Carma be the first indie film to promote itself using a Flash mob? The idea involved four women dressing up as one of the characters from the film and chanting:

Normie Burns took an axe
Gave his mother 40 whacks,
When she saw what he had done,
She said proudly, "that's my son!"

This went down at a screening in Stanford last weekend. Here's a picture of the mob:

Also, FilmThreat has a review of Carma here.

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- April 17, 2006 8:11 PM // Bay Area , Film , Theater