Theatre & Films Productions

Sociology

Documentary/Drama on the Life of Swami Vivekanda

Swami Vivekananda

Hello Friends,

First of all Happy New Year 2014! Hope the first 10 days of 2014 have been very promising till yet and the resting 355 days reserve many good things and major accomplissements that you deserve.

I would like to talk on the wonderful adventure that I had embarked on the creation of the Documentary Drama on the Life of Swami Vivekananda. This was in the context of the Residential Seminar of the HSS (Mauritius) based on the theme of ‘Celebration of 150 years of Swami Vivekananda’.

Swami Vivekananda

Well, it all started with the idea of searching for a Drama script on his life. I called Dad to enquire about same if he has in his possession etc..but nops… I realised I had to be the playwright, which is not an easy task! Then got few books from Harry Bookshop, Port Louis based on the Teachings and Life of Swami Vivekananda. Had a quick read but needed some more resources as I did not had much information on Swami Ji unfortunately.

Then came into my mind to use Celtx.com to do the Typewriting. After downloading the software and having got an account, I found Celtx was friendly to use and very convenient to type in the ‘Scene Directions’, the Characters, the Dialogs etc.

Got through the books everyday gathering information and putting them all into form of a Play by creating different Scenes:

  • ACT 1 Scene 1 – Childhood
  • ACT 2 Scene 1 – Where is God?
  • ACT 2 Scene 2  – Teachings of Ramakrishna
  • ACT 2 Scene 3 – Illness/Death of Ramakrishna
  • ACT 3  Scene 1- A Wandering Monk
  • ACT 4 Scene 1 – Arrival in America
  • ACT 4 Scene 2 – At the Parliament of Religions
  • ACT 5 – Scene 1 – Ramakrishna Mission at Belur Math
  • ACT 5 Scene 2 – Last Days of Swami Ji at Belur Math
  • ACT 5 Scene 3 – Passing Away of Swami Ji.

Furthermore, I came with the idea of vising Ramkrishna Mission at Quinze Cantons Mauritius in order to record a small Documentary. It was a great exeprience during which I learnt a lot with my preliminary knowledge on Cinematography. Got to apply techniques such as Wide Shot, Travelling and taking the interview with Close Up. The help obtained from Ramakrishna Mission also was the key ingredients in the crafting of the play with authenticity.

Furthermore, for the first time I got to do Digital Editing. This took me more than 3 weeks and the results were very exciting! Got to install Final Cut Pro 7 on my Macbook and understand its various components – Timeline, Effects , Import Raw Footage, Cut and Trim etc.. with nothing but clicking on ‘Help’ and some YouTube Tutorials.

Got first experience of rendering which is a time-consuming process requiring enough disk space and RAM.

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However, the most interesting part was the audition and casting and rehearsals for the drama by Swayamsewaks and Sevikas. I was motivated to see enthusiasm on behalf of swayamsewaks bandhu attending the seminar to take out time  to perform their rehearsals despite the hectic schedule of Shivir complemented with fatigue and ‘some level of homesickness’.

The big challenge was in fact to set up the play within 4 nights of rehearsals!!!!

And specially a good deal of artists have never done a play before. But it was a great opportunity to train them to be on stage! A golden opportunity to share the Art of Acting with others.

On the D-Day, came support from Dad who had made the ‘Pagri’ of the Protagonist and also the makeup of the artists. (I had a thought of my technical crew for the lighting etc, but had got support from a sound technician from Vallee des Pretes, who gave a big helping hand.)

swami vivekananda rehearsal

Conclusion: it was an awesome opportunity to work with the artists to stage this Documentary Drama. The feedback from the audience were all positive specially by complementing for the first time videos with drama scenes. It added more to reality.

Today going to watch the Mono Act by Actor Shekar Sen  on  Swami Vivekanda. This is in the context of World Hindi Day 2014.

Shekhar Sen - Swami Vivekananda


Aapravasi Ghat 2012

UNESCO Aapravasi Ghat

The Aapravasi Ghat Indian Indentured Immigrants Arrival Celebration Committee extended its invitation to attend the Annual Yaj Ceremony to pay tribute to the first Indentured Immigrants who arrived in Mauritius on 2 Nov. 1984. And today I did it duty to respond to the invitation by being present as early as 8.00am at Coolie Ghat, Port Louis.

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During my studies in Dip. in Performing Arts at MGI (Centre for Mauritian Studies), I got the opportunity to study the module MST 1221 Mauritian Studies – Overview of History by Historian Mr. J Ng Foong Kwong. Lecture 5 was on Slavery and Abolition  followed by Lecture 6 – Indentured Labour Immigration. One of the assignments I worked in this module held the theme ‘Discuss whether the Practice of Slavery left no trace in the new labour system, Indian Indentureship (l’engagisme) was practiced in Mauritius between 1835 and 1912. An extract of the work that I submitted:

The introduction of Indian Contractual workers during the British Period started between 1820 and early 1830s. Arrival registers of the Indian Immigration Archives (www.mgifolkmuseum.mu) testify that labourers from the Indian Peninsula originated from Bihar, Pondicherry, Madras, Calcutta, Kerala etc. These experimental importations of local planters were an evident means of overcoming acute shortage of labour arising in the colony.

The Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery was done in 1833. Mauritius was the first British colony to embark on the ‘Great Experiment’ by bringing around 453,000 labourers under the Indenture Agreement. Some main points how this was different from Slavery:

1. A labourer does not surrender his workforce for life. One is employed in return for a salary.
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2. The labourer had human dignity, unlike slaves.
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3. Recruitment of labourers was done by recruitment agents, unlike slaves who were force to come and work in Mauritius. Then there is the famous story of The british agents telling the Indians that they will discover Gold under the rocks found in Mauritius and they will become rich very soon!
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4. Slaves had duties to accomplish to the master and did not had any property rights. Indentured labourers had the right to accumulate capital and send money to their relatives in India. They bought land and morcellement plants.
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5. Disapora difference. There was no African diaspora because their human dignity have been deprived. Hence no posisbility of tracing the roots of Africans. For indentured labourers people of Indian Origian can trace the roots of their ancestors
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6. African slaves did not have the opportunity to return to their homeland. This is the point of no return to life, facing no natural death. The indians knew their place of origian and oen third of them returned to India.
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Today 2 Nov. 2012, I had the opportunity to assist to the Yaj Ceremony performed different ‘Chef Religieux’.
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Then there was speech by Mrs. Sarita Boodhoo, Chairman Bhojpuri Speaking Union…
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and then an hommage to Mr. Bikramsingh Ramlallah who started the tradition of doing a Yaj each year at Coolie Ghat.
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At the time when I was having a look at the 16 Steps,
Aapravasi Ghat 16 Steps

I had the opportunity to converse with an elderly person who told me ‘My Dada was a Coolie. I was able to re-trace my roots.’

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This is the place where the Labourers took a bath after landing on the unknown soil, very far away from their homeland and after a perilous travel from the boat departed in Calcutta.
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Luckily for me, this year, I was able to attend the Official ‘Depot de Gerbes’ by the Head of States and the listen to the Speeches.
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Then, there was the inauguration of the ‘Reconstruction of the Village in 1866’ done by the Ministry of Arts and Culture. The exhibition is opened for free to the Public for 2 months.
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Community Work with JCI Port Louis Team

Today on a nice Sunday (though it was raining heavily in the morning), I had a day at the beach. However this one was particular. It can be said that I had my best day at the beach till today!!

Today, as early in the morning, the main leisure plan was to boat tour ‘Blue Bay Parc marin’.

Parc Marin

However, it was a special boat tour under the My Wish Programme organised by JCI Port Louis. The aim of the My Wish programme is to realise the wish of children from LinktoLife, which is a Cancer Support Centre.

I was pretty impressed how the NGO JCI Port Louis organised the event and the excellent team work under the leadership of the Project Director.

So after the Boat Tour, the JCI Team organised, after serving lunch, Game Activities on the beach… It was fun!! It was especially great joy for the children to be receiving Christmas Gifts on behalf of JCI.

And today the Wish of one child was accomplished. It was also the project’s last wish realisation and hence the last activity of MyWish.


Personally, it was a best experience at the beach with so many parents and their children and a professional team to form part of…Congratulations to every team member! Hope the la faya in the bus was rocking ..lol 😀

To end with, here is a very inspirational video which I regard it a must for everybody to view..at least those who want a bit of inspiration…