Hundreds in line and a packed auditorium welcomed filmmakers Mahesh Bhatt and Pooja Bhatt as the father-daughter duo arrived at Delhi University’s Hansraj College on Thursday, to present Arvind Gaur’s play, The Last Salute.
Based on Iraqi journalist Muntadhar Al-Zaidi’s book, The Last Salute to President Bush, the play narrates the series of events that led the scribe to hurl shoes at former US president George W Bush. Bhatt says such stories really interest him, and this is what he wants to share with the world.
“I search for real stories, real interactions that hold meaning to them. Being from the entertainment industry, we are used to presenting larger than life ideas that entertain and sometimes miss the mark, even when trying to deliver a message... Theatre is supposed to reveal the reality and the stories of the underdogs; it is meant to highlight injustice, cruelty and various important topics... We’ve been presenting the play since 14 May, 2011. It highlights important facts from our recent history, be it my historic letter to the White House against the US intervention in Iraq or the experience of Muntadhar Al-Zaidi.”
The 68-year-old strongly believes that students need to know such real stories that shape the world around us, so he was keen on bringing it to campus. “It is imperative, these days, to keep the students engaged; to impart great lessons, and at the same time, keep them grounded with the reality of today’s society, and the university is a great place to do so.” Bhatt feels that if there’s a fire of curiosity in the youth and if fanned well, it can lead to beautiful things for the world.
The filmmaker also lauds the Capital’s theatre scene.“Delhi is one place where theatre is really valued. We had shows at Kamani Auditorium before coming here (Hansraj College), and despite plummeting temperatures, we had a packed audience. It is great to see the students line up, all enthused and full of curiosity, and frankly, that is what makes the experience worthwhile.”
Is he adapting a real-life event into a play? “Though not theatre, I will be coming out with the biographical account of Farhad Hussain, a 20-year-old boy from Dhaka, who lost his life on July 1, trying to protect two girls from India and the US. This incident highlighted how in the name of humanity, this young boy looked evil in the eye and died protecting two strangers, who were not even of his faith or country. It is these kind of stories I want to tell the world.”