What if Ghalib lived in the 21st century New Delhi?

  • Etti Bali, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 12, 2016 12:35 IST
With the play, Pierrot’s Troupe has put Mirza Ghalib in the 21st century Delhi. (Monica Dawar)

What would happen if the 19th century poet, Mirza Ghalib, were to be reborn in 21st century Delhi? Will he be able to survive, or give in to the fast pace of the city? More importantly, would he be able to claim his haveli situated in Ballimaran in Old Delhi?

All these, and many more questions, rather situations, are given a comic take in the play, Ghalib in New Delhi, presented by Pierrot’s Troupe.

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Written and directed by Dr M Sayeed Alam, the play will be staging its 400th show at LTG Auditorium on 16 July. The play was launched in 1997, on the 200th birth anniversary of Mirza Ghalib. 19 years and 399 shows on, we speak to the play’s director.

The story’s three main characters are Mirza Ghalib, his roommate, Jai Hind, and their landlady, Mrs Chaddha. (Monica Dawar)

“The play is about bringing Ghalib back to a city he loved the most. It is a comic account of the the socio-political changes the city has gone through and whether Ghalib would be able to adapt himself to the current times,” says Alam. To adapt to the latest trends and scenarios, the play will show Ghalib commenting on issues like Punjab elections, recent terrorist activities and tax fraud cases.

Alam shares some interesting facts about Ghalib, and his attachment to Delhi. “He had many opportunities to move out of the city, but he chose to stay and was often quoted as saying, ‘Dilli ke alawa aur kahin doosra janam nahi loonga’ (I refuse to be reborn anywhere, but Delhi),” adds Alam. In the play, Ghalib is reborn in the ISBT area of Kashmere Gate and shares a room with a Delhi University student, Jai Hind, who has rented a room that belongs to Mrs Chaddha.

Ghalib tries to understand and adapt to the changed times. (Monica Dawar)

The story plays out between these three main characters. Alam says, “Jai Hind speaks a dialect of Bihari and broken English, while Mrs Chaddha talks in the characteristic Dilliwali Punjabi. Ghalib’s chaste Urdu adds to this linguistic mix and shows the cosmopolitan nature of Delhi.”

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Alam attributes the success of his theatre group to this particular play and the audience’s love for it. “Out of 400 shows, around 300 shows have been staged in Delhi. I would like to dedicate this play to the audiences here, as whatever success this play has seen, it’s because of our audience in the city. At a time when nobody knew of Pierrot’s Troupe, the play used to open to a full house, and still continues to get the same kind of love and appreciation,” he signs off.

Catch it Live

Where: LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, Mandi House
When: July 16
Timings: 7:30pm
Nearest Metro station: Mandi House on Blue Line and Violet Line

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