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25-May-2013

Deccan Chronicle | Understanding the Change Makers

Close Encounters at Jagriti might seem rather unconventional for what the theatre space has become known for – encouraging the arts. Close Encounters, you see, isn’t the name of a thrilling theatrical drama, it refers instead to a series of talks, much like the TED, which has been making waves around the world. It is Jagadish Raja‘s tendency to explore Oriental sciences and ideas that flourish on society’s fringes -the Freemasons, for example -that is most intriguing of all. It is, however, a way to highlight people from within the community, whose achievements are quite as known as they should be.

It all started as a way to use the theatre as a community space. “We thought, the best way to do this would be to bring in people who are of the city and who have done notable work,” said Jagdish Raja, who conceptualised the series. “It’s been a slow process,” he admits. The series began with photographer Ryan Lobo and include a session by Ashok Prasad, Global Executive Chairman, Himalaya Drug Company.

“Ayurveda has always fascinated me,” said Raja. “This ancient discipline continues to survive, is beautifully packaged and is available all over the world.”

From using naturally obtianed bio-degradable materials, quality control and maintaining a uniform standard, the challenges are numerous. “We talked about how the sadhus did it, many hundreds of years ago, how they tested their products and kept records,” said Raja. Ashok Baweja, Former Chairman, HAL, also presented a session, discussing the aircraft industry.

Umesh Malhotra, founder, Hippocampus, is the next speaker, followed by Dr Mukund Thattai, from the National centre for Biological Studies. What’s more, Freemason Siddharth Raja has also agreed to divulge secrets of the guild! Dr Devi Shetty and Ramesh and Swati Ramanathan, founders, Janagaraha, are also tentative participants.

“All this started out of a desire to say, let’s talk about people in the community,” said Raja, who admits that the response hasn’t been quite what he expected. The talks, which happen every Sunday morning at 11, have been sparsely populated so far. “It’s a slow process, I know that,” Raja added.

WHAT: Close Encounters;
WHEN:  Sunday, May 26 at 11 am. And every alternate Sunday thereafter.
WHERE: Jagriti, Varthur Main Road, Whitefield.

Read as it originally appeared at the Deccan Chronicle here.

Jagriti

Jagriti is a Performance Arts space dedicated to Theatre, Music, Dance and Comedy. Founded in 2011 by Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, the space has hosted several productions from India and around the world. A 200-seat theatre, built around a full-thrust stage, it is fully equipped to cater to both artistes and audience. The main stage is designed for intimate performances, with adjoining spaces for informal lectures and gatherings, and an attached restaurant. Jagriti is owned and operated by the not-for-profit ART Foundation, a registered charitable trust.

The Rooftop - above the main auditorium is an open-to-sky space with a staging area that can accommodate about 50 people. A raised and walled off platform can work as a perfect area for puppet theatre. The Rooftop has a restroom and a pantry. 

The Terrace - alongside the auditorium, the Terrace can accommodate about 20 people as an informal gathering area.

Lumbini - extending out from the foyer, Lumbini has a stage and an open-to-sky terraced space for about 80 people.