Theatre

Star-crossed love

Saif Hyder Hasan.   | Photo Credit: 11dfr saif

Director and writer Saif Hyder Hasan’s theatre productions “Gardish Mein Taare” and “Ek Mulaqat” will soon be staged in the Capital. The plays are part of a trilogy that brings to life the haunting pathos of unrequited love. While “Gardish Mein Taare” is loosely based on Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt’s tumultuous marriage, “Ek Mulaqat” tells the story of Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam’s star-crossed love. The two musical romantic productions will see Shekhar Suman – Deepti Naval and Arif Zakaria – Sonali Kulkarni in the lead roles

Excerpts from an interview

Tell us about this trilogy, and its conception?

The genesis of “Ek Mulaqat” didn’t come from the theme of unrequited love, but the way these two plays shaped up led me to shape the third play similarly. I began “Ek Mulaqat”, the first play in the trilogy, because I wanted to do something in Urdu, which is my language, and I had never done anything in it. I was doing a lot of urban angst stories, which after a while I got bored of. As you grow older, you achieve a tranquil peace of mind, as opposed to when you are in your twenties and thirties. So all that adolescent angst is still there in your twenties and creeps into your thirties, but by the time you are in your late 30s and 40s, you are pretty relaxed in life, so that frame of mind is the one in which I wrote “Ek Mulaqat”. I told my co-writer, Summana Ahmed, see this is the story, this is its beginning and middle and end. She wrote a few pages and showed it to me, and then we worked on it together.

And what about “Gardish Mein Taare”?

For Gardish, Summana came to me with the idea, and I said to her, write it. After it was written, I realised that these two plays have a commonality, in terms of music, artists, unfulfilled love, death.

Though they are known as fictionalised versions of the Sahir-Amrita and Guru Dutt- Geeta Dutt relationships, you’ve often talked about how those stories only served as inspirations…

In “Ek Mulaqat”, we only used the kernel of Sahir and Amrita’s story. We put it in front of us and took inspiration from it to build a story that’s fictitious but pillared on truth.

In “Gardish”, there is a film director, his singer wife, and the entire baggage of what we have read about Geeta and Guru Dutt. But we created a new story. This is because I am a firm believer of the fact that what happens in a marriage is always within the confines of the bedroom, and no third person will be able to tell you the complete truth about it. Whatever we write about it will be conjectures, and not fair on them.

There are many books on Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt’s relationship, a lot written and published about it. Similarly, Amrita Pritam’s words are there on her and Sahir’s relationship. But in these plays, we can choose which incidents we want to keep, how we want to interpret them. In “Ek Mulaqat”, we have not really used what Amrita has written, but we have used the feeling. For example, when Sahir died, she wrote that her “Khuda” had died. That shows the intensity of what she felt for him.

Even loosely basing characters on legendary personalities, and exploring their personal lives, how was that?

Like walking on ice. In “Ek Mulaqat”, we have sanitised Sahir’s personality to an extent, and in that case there have been mostly bouquets, but “Gardish” isn’t sanitised, and many people ask me how I could do this to Guru Dutt, or Geeta Dutt. You see, the audience has another story going on in their head about these people. Had it been, say me, if I was shown as having affairs and being an alcoholic, who would have bothered about it?

In terms of the production style, how similar are these plays.

Somebody in the audience put it very interestingly, he said, for me “Ek Mulaqat” is like “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” and “Gardish” is like “Black”. In that way, they are very different plays. But since they are both made by the same man, the treatment is similar stylistically. In both plays, like I usually do with others, I have worked with a lot of light, music, projection and new technology.

Could you talk about the process of choosing the cast?

I always say, that choosing a cast is like getting married. See, when you decide to get married, and someone asks you why this person, you can’t really answer objectively, it’s instinctive. In a play, it is instinctive too. In a marriage, you think, this person will be able to share my life. In a play, you think, this person will be able to share my vision. You don’t want an actor who will have a discordant vision from yours.

Gardish Mein Taare- 2 shows on 19th September at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Ek Mulaqat- 2 shows on 20th September at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Venue- FICCI Auditorium

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 7:24:01 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/starcrossed-love/article7637366.ece

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