To commemorate Munshi Premchand's 128th birth anniversary (July 31), Mujeeb Khan's Ideal Drama and Entertainment Academy (IDEA) is showcasing a three-day event - ‘Prem Utsav'. The festival showcases a compilation of short stories written by Premchand.
Now in its third year, it will be on till August 2. New avatar IDEA organised its first festival titled ‘Aurat Aaj Ke Aaine Main', two years ago at the P L Deshpande auditorium. Last year the festival was held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, with its present name ‘Prem Utsav'.
This year, there will be two venues, Chowpatty's Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Juhu's Shree Keertan Kendra. The stories featured include Mandir Masjid, Tyagi Ka Prem, Dhoka, Sewa ka Marg and Sachai ka Uphar. Still relevant Mujeeb Khan points out that Premchand's works can bring back the lost balance in a society, marred by violence and suffering." He says, "Premchand's writings propagated a strong social message. In his play Kanuni Kumar he spoke about the women's bill. This was much before the issue cropped up in Parliament."
Over the years, besides finding place in the classroom texts, the wordsmith's writings, which are still very relevant, have been resurrected on stage by various theatre groups.
Decades ago, Indian People's Theatre Association staged Premchand's Kafan and Godaan (Hori). More recently, Motley's widely acclaimed Katha Collage explored his Shatranj ke Baazi, (Khiladi) and Bade Bhaisahab which spoke about how two brothers try to come to terms with education.
Stage actor Jameel Khan, who essayed the role of the protagonist in the play, explains, "Through his skillful writings, Premchand addressed social and political issues. He touches upon the gamut of human emotions, relevant to all ages. In terms of dramatic interpretations, the scope is tremendous."
Recently, Nadira Zaheer Babbar's Hindi theatre group - Ekjute - staged its version of Bade Bhaisahab. Munshiji Ki Gudgudiyaan was an adaptation of four of Premchand's humourous stories by a team of four young directors. The other stories selected were Darogaji, Rasik Sampadak and Aansuon ki Holi.
Babbar states, "For me, Premchand is the greatest Indian short story writer. He wrote with an unflappable sincerity."