Tragedy Queen’s Curtain Call
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Zindagi aankh se tapka hua berang katra, Tere daaman ki panaah paata toh aansoo hota
Five years ago, when Pune-based theatre artiste Yogini Pophale had read these lines written by Meena Kumari, she became curious to read other works penned by the late actor. She not only read every single book written on her and by her, but also managed to meet people who threw light on Meena Kumari as a poet. What followed was a discovery that Pophale was determined to share with others. For four years, Pophale researched and gathered every possible information about the actor. Finally, she is ready with Mehajabeen – Safar Meena Kumari Ka, an Urdu-Hindi drama that represents Meena Kumari's personal and professional journey with a special emphasis on her interest in writing. The drama also includes some of the immortal songs from her films and narratives, accompanied with dances. However, the highlight is some rare ghazals and poems by Meena Kumari that will be recited in her own voice.
"Originally named Mehajabeen, Meena Kumari was always an enigma, a mysterious personality. That she was a great actor is something everybody knows but when it comes to her personal life, people mostly talk about her drinking habit. Not many people know that she was immensely interested in writing poetry, ghazals and nazms," says Pophale. She also met Aurangabad-based Urdu poet Bashar Nawaz, who has written lyrics for Hindi films such as Bazaar, Lori, Jane Wafa, Tere Shahar Mein and Shanker Khan, and with whom Meena Kumari shared a great association owing to their common interest in writing.
The drama revolves around four characters, incidentally the people who played a significant role in Meena Kumari's life — Kamal Amrohi (her husband), Khursheed Aapa (her sister), Baby Meena Kumari and Taazdaar (Amrohi's son from his first wife). Interestingly, no one is playing the late actor in the drama. "I don't think anyone could do justice to her role. However, her soul will be present throughout the play. And how will that be done is a suspense that only the show will reveal," says Pophale, adding that the theme, sets, drapery and costumes have been designed and customised to take the audience to the era of Meena Kumari.