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Bubble and Speak

In a quintessential Indian context,chai plays a significant role in our lives.

Written by Pallavi Pundir |
September 10, 2013 3:55:20 am

In a quintessential Indian context,chai plays a significant role in our lives. Be it casual banter with friends,a bunch of uncles/aunties sitting together or a banal chat with an acquaintance — a cup of chai is always an added flavour. For Jyoti Dogra,conversations over chai were rendered a distinct taste,being born and brought up in Delhi. “Those conversations are things we absorb more than observe,” she says. With this inherent combination in her mind,Dogra started putting together this “pattern”. That,along with her long engagement with sound,especially Tibetan throat sounds,has resulted in what she calls “Notes on Chai”,an abstract performance that involves conversations interwoven with voice as the sole instrument.

“These conversations are seemingly meaningless,where people often keep a mask on. Yet that mask often reveals a lot of things. I have juxtaposed such conversations with sounds which do not have a specific music tradition,” says the 43-year-old,who moved base to Mumbai about 12 years ago. “We just have to look where the meaning and meaninglessness lies,” she says. Funded by India Foundation for Arts,the 75-minute piece will be performed in the Capital on September 13 for the first time.

Notes on Chai employs no props,no recordings and no music. With basic light and costume,Dogra holds her own on stage through a thread of Tibetan chanting techniques,Western overtone singing and extended vocal techniques — providing unconventional sonic textures,to her world of conversations over chai.

Apart from theatre,in which Dogra uses physical and vocal techniques and minimal design support,the artiste has also been cast in Bollywood films such as Satya (1998),Hyderabad Blues 2 (2004),and Gulaal (2009).

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Notes on Chai will be performed at Siddhartha Hall,Goethe-Institut.Max Mueller Bhavan from September 13 to 15 at 7 pm. Entry is free; register at

Pallavi Pundir

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