Founder of Smita Patil Street Theatre group Yusuf Qasmi staged 6101th performance of the play Nukkad Naatak on the eve of World Anti Drugs Day on June 26.
He rues that despite trying hard they haven’t been able to get through to Smita’s son Prateik to get support for this endeavour. “Though Smita’s mother Vidya was too emotional to be involved, she always supported us. In 1994 and 1999, Raj Babbar came for our performance and supported the move. Even Nadira Babbar, who runs Ek Jute theatre group has supported us by giving a platform outside of Prithvi theatre, within the premises. I would like Prateik to support us as well,” says Qasmi.
The theatre activist who has assisted film writer Javed Siddique and Abhinay Kashyap on his TV show earlier says, “Javed saab wrote many films including Chakra (1981) for Smita. He used to share his experiences working with Smitaji, which motivated me a lot. I wanted to work with her but never got a chance. She died very young. I started this group in her memory and to spread awareness against drugs.”
Started in 1989, Yusuf’s group efforts of staging this play consistently have found a place in Limca Book of Records this year. We have performed in Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore, Lucknow, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Guwahati and has even received appreciation from Amitabh Bachchan. The veteran actor sent Qasmi a letter saying, “There is greatness in doing something you hate for the sake of someone you love… Hate Drugs Love Yourself.”
The story of this street play revolves around a retired teacher’s family. Out of his two sons, one is addicted to drugs and the other to alcohol. His daughter, who works for an MNC shoulders the responsibility of earning for the whole family. Because of the need for money for drugs and alcohol, the boys fight incessantly with their father and sister all the time until one day the elder son kills his father for money. “Due to the nature of the play, we have never done stage performances. We always perform in slums or where it can reach out to the target audience,” he says.