Play it Again

Stills from Om Katares play Hadh Kar Di Aapne

The just-concluded Chandigarh Theatre Festival saw directors stage plays that have absorbed audiences for years

One thousand-plus shows and the audience still goes back again and again to watch Mumbai-based theatre group Ank's super-duper zany comedy, Hai Mera Dil, which opened the recent five-day Chandigarh Theatre Festival.

Directed by Dinesh Thakur, Hai Mera Dil, the longest running play in the history of Hindi theatre, is also one of Ank's longest running productions. In its 35 years, Ank has staged more than 75 plays, but Hai Mera Dil takes the cake.

"Some things stand the test of time," says Thakur. Like this play, there are many other plays that are being staged for more than a decade now, but still keep absorbing the audiences and the directors alike.

For instance, Karmawali (The Lucky Lady), a novel by KL Zakir, gave thespian MK Raina's creative concerns a new lease of life when he decided to adapt it into a play in 1990. He then staged it for six long years. The play depicts the pangs and pathos of Partition and the endless trauma of a generation separated from everything that was theirs. Raina says since the story is a pointer that how a reckless political decision can change the course of history, it's relevant in today's times as well. Referring to conflict situations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Raina talks of reviving the play again.

Theatre directors feel a story that strikes a chord with the common man is bound to leave a long-lasting impact, and so, they keep reinterpreting it from time to time. Thakur's Hai Mera Dil is a success because it's based on simplicity and humour. "A hypochondriac husband and his relationship with his wife simple humour like this is a therapy that never fails to make people smile," he says.

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