Vizag Features

May 2006
15th May, 2006
(Inputs by Jyotsna Yedem)

What can newcomers do in Vizag for fun? A lot, according to Sanjeeth Cherian, who came to the City of Destiny for the first time in 2004 to work in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). Fresh out of IIT (Madras) and sorely missing his active theatre life in college, Sanjeeth set out to meet people to form an amateur theatre group right here in Vizag! That's right, a theatre group.

You're probably thinking, 'Impossible!! A theatre group in Vizag? What for? Who is going to watch 'em?' That is exactly what Sanjeeth had to face when he began. "Trying to get a group together was quite a task, as people were quite skeptical about the concept of English theatre in Vizag," says Sanjeeth, looking back at the initial days. But nevertheless, with determination and the wish to meet like-minded people, he kept at the task of contacting different people. It took a year, but finally, the group had arrived on the scene on the 22nd of May, 2005 with six members.

Members of Alterego performing on stage
Members of Alterego performing on stage.

Now, evolving into a 16-member group, it has been christened 'Alterego'. Why that name? Well, its because of the members' ability to drop their individual roles and don theatre histrionics in a jiffy. The group members are from different countries, ages and professions like Mr. Ian Coleman, the Centre Manager of HSBC, Ms. Sulekha Sharma of the Times of India, Vizag, Ms. Abha Chauhan of Pastry, Coffee and Converstion (PCC), Mr. Ameet Mirpuri of Dezign Studio, Mr. G. Anantaram, the Regional Coordinator for ICFAI, Andhra Pradesh and Mrs. Rekha Dutt, Psychiatrist to name a few.

With the aim of infusing the theatre culture of Mumbai and Bangalore into Vizag, 'Alterego' has worked hard to reach its current stage. The first obstacle was to get people to commit themselves to the group. "With most of our members being professionals, we could meet only in the evenings and Sundays. So, we had to consciously make an effort to bond with each other to reach our present level of comfort. Also, people were very inhibited in the beginning and couldn't emote well. We had to focus on getting them to loosen up during our group sessions," informs Sanjeeth. When asked if they held auditions for new members, he adds in a humble tone: "We don't follow any formal procedure. The main point of the group is to provide a forum for people to just drop their inhibitions and act…and of course, to have fun."
However, he admits to being very "protective" towards his group and to ensuring a person's level of commitment before letting him or her in. "I don't want anything to disturb our comfortable atmosphere," adds Sanjeeth, with a serious, big-daddy expression. But, do not mistake him for the heart and soul of 'Alterego'. Sanjeeth considers himself only an initiator. When asked what the fate of the group would in his absence, his being a transferable job, he was confident that the show would go on - he feels his teammates would be great at running the show.

Every problem the group faces is dealt with collectively in a spirit of camaradarie. For example, finding sponsors for their maiden show proved to be another hurdle, but the team's group efforts soon attracted some big names like Kingfisher, Welcom Hotel Grandbay, HSBC, Coca Cola Ltd., Truwood and Greenply. "I don't know what we would have done without our sponsor's support. We really appreciate their help," adds Sanjeeth.

Having recently debut-performed the comedy 'The King of Spain's Treasure' by Geoff Bamber in Hotel Grandbay on the 22nd of April, 'Alterego' stole the hearts of its 400-odd audience. The performance was so well-received that the group is now working on a repeat production. Also, Alterego is preparing for its second show, which is set to come out in a few months.

A scene from 'The King of Spain's Treasure'
A scene from 'The King of Spain's Treasure'.

With such a success at its first attempt, 'Alterego' is all set to take on the stage in the City of Destiny. So, watch out, Vizagites!!


11th May, 2006

Upholding Indian Culture, Tradition in and around Vizag:

The Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth (SPIC MACAY), founded in 1978, is a non-profit, voluntary, apolitical and participatory student movement dedicated to enriching education through the spread and appreciation of India's classical heritage with its legends, mythology and philosophy by organising lecture-demonstrations, concerts, conventions, festivals, virasats and workshops.

Its Vizag chapter, led by its chairman, Mr. S. Vijaya Kumar, has been organising enchanting classical music recitals and enthralling cultural shows in schools and colleges in and around the port city by inviting world renowned artistes. It is also organising lecture-demo sessions on interesting topics under 'Prerna'.

Pandit Ronu Majumdar
Pandit Ronu Majumdar

Noted flautist Pandit Ronu Majumdar of Mumbai performed at Sainik School, Korukonda in Vizianagaram district, Ukkunagaram in Visakhapatnam and in Hyderabad, Peddapuram, Pithapuram and Kakinada respectively between the 28th of January and the 2nd of February, 2006, under the aegis of SPIC MACAY. A special feature of SPIC MACAY is that it makes it compulsory for students to have lunch/dinner and interact with the artistes after the show.

It has also organised vocal recitals by Padma Bhushan and Sangeetha Kalanidhi T.N. Shankaranarayanan, violin recital by M.S. Gopalakrishnan, vocal recital by Subha Mudgal, Krishna Vagesh of AIR, New Delhi, vocal recital by Vijayalakshmi Subrahmanyam of Chennai, Carnatic music recital by Neyveli Santanagopalan of Chennai and 'Devi Vaibhavam' by M. Jogulamba. In addition, SPIC MACAY has also organised lecture-demo sessions on Bharatanatyam by Urmila Sathyanarayanan, Padmini Ravi of Bangalore and Revathi Ramachandran and T.R. Subrahmanyam, Kutiyattam, Nangiar Koothu by Natanakairali, Sarangi recital by Sarwar Hussain, Purulia Chau (dance ballet) by Bansi Mahato & Party etc.

Apart from these, SPIC MACAY has coordinated a 'School Intensive' programme at Uttam School for Girls in Ghaziabad from the 19th to the 23rd of April, 2006.

Urmila Sathyanarayanan
Urmila Sathyanarayanan
Priti Patel
Priti Patel

SPIC MACAY has organised Manipuri Dance Recital by Priti Patel at Samudrika Navy Auditorium and Naval Science and Technology Laboratories (NSTL) in Visakhapatnam on the 24th of April.

Manipuri Dance performance
Manipuri Dance performance

Future programmes: A series of programmes will be organised as part of the 'School Intensive' programme, when students will get to interact with renowned artistes Girija Devi (Hindustani vocal), Fariduddin Dagar (Hindustani vocal), Birju Maharaj (Kathak), Margi Madhu (Koodiyattam), Rajan & Sajan Mishra (Hindustani vocal), Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (Hindustani Mohan Veena), Abdul Rashid Khan (Hindustani vocal), Sultan Khan (Hindustani Sarangi) and Bahaduddin Dagar (Hindustani Rudra Veena).

Staging of the play 'Charandas Chor' by Habib Tanvir, and screening of the film 'Sardari Begum,' followed by a talk-session with Shyam Benegal and the screening of 'Seven Samurai' by Akira Kurusowa will form part of the 'School Intensive' programme. There will also be lectures by Anjolie Ela Menon, Indira Goswami and a walk with Ramji Narayan to Humayun's Tomb, Yoga & Meditation by Swami Tyagaraja and 'intensives' with Fariduddin Dagar, Bahaduddin Dagar, Habib Tanvir, Marga Madhu, Abdul Rashid Khan, Saswati Sen, (Kathak), Anjolie Ela Menon, Indira Goswami, Gurappa Chetty (Kalamkari) and Sultan Khan.

Its 21st national convention will be held from the 19th to 24th of June, 2006, at Gyan Vihar Universe, Jagatpura in Jaipur (Rajasthan) during which group discussions, 'shramdan' programme and cultural shows involving renowned artistes would be organised.

-- SPIC-MACAY - Vizag Chapter.


3rd May, 2006


The Chandanotsavam at Simhachalam Devasthanam on the 30th of April, 2006 appears to have been a nightmarish experience for some devotees, going by the following report sent to

Sri Varaha Narasimha Swamy - Nitya & Nija Roopam

"Chandanotsavam of Simhachalam Devasthanam is turning into an organized racket by officials concerned to fleece the ticket buyers. I, along with my family, purchased three tickets of Rs.500 each to have the much hyped Nijaroopa Darsanam of Lord Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha at 5 pm in the evening but found, to our dismay, that we could not view the Lord closely, as advertised by Devasthanam Board, but from a distance of more than 3 metres after struggling for more than 5 hours in the queue. The faciliites in the queue were also very deplorable, with dogs resting and defecating in the lines, much to the horror of ticket holders. The plight of Rs.1000 ticket holders was no better.

The temple management has utterly failed in providing the basic amenities to the devotees, though they are successful in robbing them and spending on other promotional activities to trap gullible devotees into parting with their money. The much touted 'Seegra Darshan' is a big farce and has been introduced only to make some quick money. There was this devotee, with his family including two infants, from Kharagpur who was with us in the Seeghra darshan line and had to pull out of the Darshan line as he was not sure whether he could catch the Coromandel express back home at 10 PM at Vizag Station because the Seegra Darshan queue has hardly moved 4 metres in more than 2 hours, even at the starting point of the queue. The purohits, aided by the devasthanam staff posted inside the sanctum sanctorum, were remarkable for their rudeness as they herded out the devotees even before they could take a distant glimpse of the advertised Nijaroopa darshanam. Surely we had the nija swaroopam of the Devasthanam and its dirty tactics. With this kind of set-up, next year no one can not anticipate to have darshan without being a VIP or VVIP or employee of Devasthanam or their relation who had a free and royal preferential darshan at the expense of ticket buyers who were seen languishing in the stuffy queues hours together, irrespective of their ticket denomination, while the ruling deity remained a dumb witness all along."