Return of the Native


The timeless story of Zulfikar Haider and Amrita Nigam marks veteran actor Om Puri's comeback to theatre after a gap of 25 years.

For the last 40 years, most of us have grown up watching Om Puri playing many diverse roles in films a builder in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, a police inspector in Dabangg and a vengeful rioter in Gandhi. However, this time, the veteran actor is making news for a different reason: his return to the theatre after 25 years. Puri is the actor-director of Teri Amrita, an adaptation of AR Gurney's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1988 play Love Letters. The play is being staged in Delhi during the four-day Punjabi Theatre Festival, which started on Wednesday.

The play is a timeless love story of Zulfikar Haider and Amrita Nigam, which pans out through the letters exchanged between the couple over a period of 35 years. Set against the backdrop of the Partition, Amrita (played by Divya Dutta) and Zulfi (enacted by Puri) meet in childhood and are forced to pursue different paths.

Despite the passage of time, they keep the flame alive with these letters, conveying their deepest emotions and unconditional love for each other. The play was first adapted to Indian context by playwright Javed Siddiqui, whose Hindi version eminent artistes Shabana Azmi and Farooq Sheikh have been performing for more than two decades now, as Tumhari Amrita.

The reason why Puri chose the play as his comeback vehicle is, as he puts it, "because it is simple and doesn't require fancy background and props". He adds, "And I chose Punjabi because it is my mother tongue. It is almost like you know you have to swim and haven't practised it for 25 years. So, one does not jump directly into deep water."

Rawail Singh, director of the festival, says, "I had been trying to stage a play with Om Puri for the last one year and I am glad that he has agreed."

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