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Play:‘Ghair Zaroori Log’Jammu Theatrics enthrall ‘8th National Theatre Fest’By Rashmi Talwar in Amritsar


Play: ‘Ghair Zaroori Log’

Jammu Theatrics enthrall ‘8th National Theatre Fest -2011’ in Amritsar

By Rashmi Talwar

‘Ghair Zaroori Log’– …A play based on the lives of commoners that have little or no bearing on society, yet left a huge impact when woven into stories, was the theme on which the collective memory of characters of ‘Saadat Hassan Manto’s’ urdu stories was mentored to form this abstract presentation.

An apt choice for the last fall of curtains on the ‘8th National Theatre Festival’ held in Amritsar in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, GOI; North Zone Cultural Center, Patiala and Punjab Naatshala, the play, written by Shahid Anwar and directed by Mushtaq Kak drew pivotal characters from popular urdu stories of Manto, was staged by the ‘Amateur Theatre Group, Jammu’.

That most of the characters were from the basest profession of prostitution prevalent much before partition, made them as much human, as the one on the street earning his living as the so-called ‘honorable’ daily wager.

Slick, quick-paced and gripping, the entire spectrum of stories weaved by the director and writer, cast a spell on the audience making the characters creep out of the stage unannounced yet evolving right there with retorts naturally spewed forth, owing to changed circumstances, in the back-drop of the ongoing tearing partition between the two countries.

Be it the most popular character the ‘heavy-legged’ (from 15 years of standing upright), mentally challenged Bishan Singh in Manto’s story of ‘Toba Tek Singh’ or ’Saugandi’-a prostitute, turning venomous on her benefactor or the Sardari Begum of ‘Mummy’ an old “harlot” compassionate and motherly, whose inner purity remained intact despite touting girls into the flesh trade; Each of the characters stood tall in the narrative through ‘Hamid Jalal’s character as Manto’s nephew played by Rahul Kumar in the presentation.

Of gripping interest were the characters of army men a Sikh and a Muslim who once worked together and now train their guns on each other as enemies after partition of 1947 in “Akhri Salute”; Irrespective of their newly-turned enemy positions, their friendly banter even about such sensitivities like Kashmir, could not be stolen by the separating lines of nations, not even by death.

The ‘Babu Gopi Nath’ episode of a lover turned father, who does not allow anyone to insult or hurt Zeenat, a young girl under his wing, arouses compassion for the oppressed.

The Play interspersed with familiar music by Ifra Kak enveloped the audience in the situational tales drawing out the essence in both pain and pleasure. “Innhi logon ne le li na dupatta mera..’ from film Pakeeza added to the plight of the innocent Zeenat in Babu Gopi Nath’s tale. Similarly ‘Aye Watan , Aye Watan …”; …”…. “Ramiya vasta vaiya….” served to link the familiar with the unfamiliar, making the complete amalgam a pleasure to watch.

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Saadat Hassan Manto –

Hugely popular writer even-with post partition population in both the countries, boundlessly loved, irrespective of boundaries; who struck hard on social prejudices and elevated the stigmatized, through his vast repertoire of urdu short stories.
Based on characters and topics drawn from the socio-economic backgrounds, prevailing in pre- and post- colonial subcontinent, to the more controversial topics of love, sex and dhokha and the ‘traditional’ hypocrisy of a sub-continental male.

In dealing with these topics, Manto is known to conceal nothing. Raw and banal it comes across as the true state of the affairs, imbued in reality.
The stories even though intricately structured, with vivid satire, holds surprise elements of backslap humor that crackles incessantly, drawing nods or nays.
In his own words Manto had retorted to his detractors, “If you find my stories dirty, the society is dirty! With my stories, I only expose the truth”.

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Mushtaq Kak
‘Mushtaq Kak is one of the major theatre directors, to have emerged from the arc lights of Jammu stage to establish as a creative director-actor respected by the connoisseurs of theatre across the country’.
Actively associated with the theatre in Jammu, and later in Delhi , Kak worked hard as the Artistic Director of Shri Ram Centre for Performing Arts for 10 years, he is credited with his contributions as a faculty member of – Young Theatre Workers and Artists’ Workshops- in varied regions nation-wide; by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, Delhi,

Having directed more than 100 plays, few are:
•‘Dilli-6’(named after a pin code of old Delhi )
•‘Manto Baqalam Khud’ based on urdu short stories by Saadat Hassan Manto,
•Anton Chekhov’s ‘The Cherry Orchard’,
•Jean Paul Satre’s ‘Men without Shadows’,
•Pirandello’s ‘Six characters in search of an author”,
•Checkhov’s ‘Seagull’,
•Krishan Chander’s ‘Ek gadhe ki atmakatha”
•And its sequel ‘Gadhe ki waapsi’
•Mahesh Elkunchwar’s ‘Holi’
•Vasant Kanetkar’s ‘Kasturi Mrig’,
•Moti Lal Kemmu’s ‘Nagar Udaas’,
•Federico Gracia Lorca’s ‘The Blood Wedding’
•Meera Kant’s ‘Ihamrig’ ‘Kaali Barf’ and ‘Ant Hazir Ho’
•Premanand Gajvi’s ‘Mahabrahmann’ and ‘Gandhi Ambedkar’,

Kak is a recipient of the best director awards for his plays ‘Andha Yug’, Mallika and Pratibimb conferred by the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages Jammu, and awarded ‘Pt Kseminder Raina Memorial Award-2009’ for his outstanding contribution to the field of Theatre. He was recently seen in the film –‘Mausam’ as a father of the Kashmiri girl played by Sonam Kapoor.

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AMATEUR THEATRE GROUP, Jammu

A Jammu based Theatre Artists Group by Kak, formed in 1980 by the enthusiasts who had joined hands under the stewardship of Ratan Kalsi, an experienced artist. Kak describes the group as a laboratory of theatre activists from various professional and artistic backgrounds of painters, musicians, actors, film makers and writers. It emerged as one of the few groups from this region to reach the stature of International, National, and Zonal Festivals by Sangeet Natak Akademi , Sahitya Kala Parishad ( New Delhi ), West Zone Culture Centre, Punjabi Academy, Delhi , with its most recent production being Shahid Anwar’s urdu play “Ghair Zaroori Log”

Major productions of group include
•Sach-ki-hai
•Bhukh-hi-bhukh
•Toba Tek Singh,
•Garakh Ho Riha Manukh
•Sawaa Ser Kanak,
•Devyaani,
•Marakhey (based On Suraj Ka Saatvan Ghoda),
•Daak Ghar,
•Macbeth,
•Ashad Ka Ek Din,
•Ala Afsar,
•Jasma Odhan,
•Aadhi Raat Ke Baad,
•Lotan,
•Evam Inderjeet
•Andhaa Yug.
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Passing away of Shammi Kapoor reminds me of my lost love Rajshree/ By Ravinder Kaul


Shammi Kapoor and Rajshree

Shammi Kapoor is no more. His passing away has been mourned by all film buffs, particularly those belonging to the ‘yahoo’ generation. His demise reminds me of the time when we used to paddle to various locations in Kashmir to watch his film shootings. Special programmes to recall the contribution of Shammi Kapoor to Indian cinema are being beamed by all news channels. And it is in a song in one of these programmes that I, after a very long time, once again, came face to face with Rajshree, my first crush, the dream girl of my younger days. Rajshree was virtually like a modern day ‘desi’ Barbie Doll. Watching her on screen as a 10-year old, I used to get enveloped in her. For me, she was the perfect woman, my first heartthrob. Ever since I saw her in the film ‘Geet Gaya Patharon Ne’ in the now defunct Firdous cinema hall in Srinagar sometime in the sixties, I adored her, and loved her.

While watching her film ‘Jaanwar’ I would always imagine that it was me, and not Shammi Kapoor, who wooed the ‘woman in red’ in the song ‘Laal chhadi maidaan khadi ‘. In the film “Around the World”, it was not an aging Raj Kapoor, but me, who followed her on a world tour on a measly eight dollars. The paltry economic condition suited me in those adolescent years. Eons later, when I walked the streets of Geneva, Paris, Rome and London, that Raj Kapoor had traversed alongwith his ladylove, I always had a feeling that Rajshree would somehow surface out of nowhere and demurely stand in front of me. Woebegone, all such delectable daydreams would melt like a snowflake as soon as they touched ground. Yet, visiting these locations was virtually like a pilgrimage for me. The places had at some point of time been sanctified by the steps of Rajshree, my beloved.

Shammi Kapoor in Kashmir Ki Kali

While I was still preparing to grow into a man and be worthy of her attention, the news of her marriage floated. My heart broke. She had married a foreigner. I somehow consoled my bleeding, broken heart with the thought that there was no man in India who deserved her and solely for that reason, she had married a foreigner. For me, she was a ‘desi princess’ who had found solace in the embrace of a ‘gora prince’. After marriage, she simply disappeared and not a word was heard about her. I too stored her memory in the deep recesses of my mind and moved on with life.

But my heart finally and resolutely broke today. After watching the film-clipping of hers with Shammi Kapoor, I googled her name and tried to find out the details about her whereabouts. And what I found has, once again, thrown me into deep despair. Sadly, she had not married a ‘gora prince’, as I had imagined. She had actually married a struggling young tailor. As Shakespeare would have said “O! What a fall was there, my countrymen”? I am so angry with her today. A tailor? I have nothing against tailors per se, but I cannot visualize a tailor as the prince charming of the darling of my dreams. My heart bled anew after watching the website of her husband Greg Chapman. He spells her name as ‘Raj’a’shree’ and calls her ‘my Raju’. After more than forty years of being married to her, he cannot spell her name right, and ‘Raju’, for god’s sake!

When in Los Angeles next, I intend to go and meet Rajshree, albeit taking full care to guise my feelings and put my dreams to rest. Maybe I’ll take my revenge by ordering her husband to stitch a suit for me.
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Ravinder Kaul is famed Global Critic for Art, Literature, Dance, Music, Poetry and Theater

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