Theatre

Ghalib from the prism of desire

A DIFFERENT TAKE Ashok Lal

A DIFFERENT TAKE Ashok Lal   | Photo Credit: Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Noted playwright-director Ashok Lal brings “Buddha Ghalib” to New Delhi this Sunday

It is but rare that a paper read out at a seminar leads to a play. Rarer still is a play that talks of Gautam Buddha, he who is venerated by millions today. And pitches him with Ghalib, a man who lived next to a mosque but often preferred to find peace with his daily drink. Yet good things, even rare things, do happen. And happen even in the era of demonetization.

This time courtesy noted playwright, director and actor Ashok Lal who is bringing to the Capital “Buddha Ghalib”, as intriguing a title for drama as you would have heard in recent days. Lal who speaks Urdu the way Ghalib would have applauded, actually presented a lecture on Buddha Ghalib in Chicago in 2010. In that lecture he looked at Ghalib’s poetry from the Buddhist perspective! It was a totally new way of looking at the legendary poet. Many had analysed his works in comparison to his contemporaries. Many too had discussed the angst in his works, the overriding irreverence. Some had spent years digging into his Persian treasure trove. Yet nobody, absolutely nobody thought it appropriate to find out the Buddhist influence on Ghalib! Little wonder, Prof Mazhar Mehdi Hussain of Jawaharlal Nehru University commented, “Ashok Lal has added one more dimension to Ghalib studies by tracing Buddhist influence on Ghalib, hitherto unexplored aspect of Ghalib studies, in quite a creative way. His is original understanding/interpretation of Ghalib and coupled with his practice of Buddhism, he has thought of Ghalib like nobody has ever done. Some of his interpretations of Ghalib might appear to some puritans as far-fetched; however, they are illuminating, creative to the core.”

The paper in turn has led to a play; a play that promises to be an engaging story of a poet. In this case the poet happened to be a great fan of the best poet of them all, Ghalib. But there is no way the distance between our poet and Ghalib can be diminished. So, he starts pursuing Buddhist philosophy. Buddha may have talked of desire as the root of all suffering. In the case of the poet, his reading of Buddha reminded him of a couplet or two of Ghalib. Then? Throw in the poet's son and an exhilarating journey starts. It is a journey that aims to bring alive the works of the poet and the man who talked of peace and non-violence. How do the two, separated by many a century, meet? Suffice to say, then, you have to book yourself a ticket to Lal's take on the poet and the messenger of peace. With Lal himself playing Ghalib, a treat for Urdu lovers won't be too far away.

(Presented by Ghalib Institute's Humsab drama group, “Buddha Ghalib” will be staged this Sunday, 6.30 pm, at Aiwaan-e-Ghalib near Mata Sundari College)

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Printable version | Jul 13, 2020 6:38:11 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/Ghalib-from-the-prism-of-desire/article16933146.ece

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