Reflections: How to Skin a Giraffe

How to Skin a Giraffe

This guest post is written by Nivedita.

"One son. One daughter. Two dynasties." 

I read the hand out given to us at the Hindu Metro Plus theater fest in Hyderabad on 25th August 2013.

A  long paragraph with colorful pictures on either side was quietly present on the handout but in the dark Ravindra Bharati auditorium, under the fading torch light of our phones, this is all we could quickly read before the play stared at 7.35 pm.

Vijay Marur, a popular voice in Hyderabad, instructed us to switch off or put our mobiles on silent and spoke about the play titled “How to skin a Giraffe”. For the uninitiated it is “Girraaf” not “Giraaffeee.” The play began with 7 to 8 young, middle aged men and women wearing either blue or red or green long shirts and skirt/pant like bottoms. I assumed it was a hospital for the mentally-ill but as the play progressed and I awaited the dynasty rulers, I realized that this was it.

The two dynasties were headed by King Lubdub and Madam Mammosa. An adaptation of the play,  Leonce and Lena, one of the classics in German, the play was dipped in Indian context to suit the weather conditions. The chutnification (often used by Salman Rushdie) of the English language wrapped in aphorisms used by King Lubdub sets the tone for the first act of the play. Kind Lubdub presents his wit, dictatorship and an ill-fated loss of memory in this act. His heir, Popo, is a philosopher and always looks at things with different and queer sensibilities. On learning about his arranged marriage, he flees with his friend, a bon viveur (another character who extensively spoke Tamil infuriating few of the audience). Madam Mammosa, who runs a prawns business, is a control-freak. She establishes control even in her daughter Pipi’s life by arranging her wedding with Popo. How the story unfolds and the drama carries the queerness, madness and the satiric humor forms the rest of the play.

Things I loved the most in the play:
The play started in English but was well balanced by a mix of Indian languages like Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and Hindi. In one of the acts, Madam Mammosa played the Cupid and engaged the audience with tricky questions. That’s when I wished I had opted for a 300 rupees ticket and not a 100 rupees one.

Things I disliked:
I wish I had read the original play before I appeared for the play. Nevertheless, ignorance is bliss and I am glad I did not miss this.

The play used the props very well and the transition from one scene to other was natural. Some of the psychedelic movements would be a little creepy for those who haven’t witnessed such live acts earlier. The live music, the songs, and the music interspersed very well into this 100-minute act.

For those of us who wait for the Hindu Metro Fest Theater every year, this was worth every minute of the wait.


Meet the Author

Born in the city of the Nizams, Nivedita is a pauper turned half-baked poet. Recently wed-locked, she experiments with rice and pulses. And no! She is not responsible for her husband’s frequent stomach pain.


  1. Hey!
    Lovely post. This was one of the first plays I watched and your review does full justice to it. So much that I've taken the liberty to link it to one of MY posts on the theatre scene at Bangalore.
    Hope you don't mind. If you do, please don't hesitate to let me know - I wouldn't mind taking it down.
    Insomniac :)