By Subhash K Jha
Gulzar, the poet-extraordinaire, makes a comeback to theatre with a play called
Agar Aur Magar
Talking about the play, Gulzar told IANS: "This is an adaptation of (Bertolt) Brecht's The One Who Said Yes and the One Who Said No'. The original play was in the form of a musical chorus.
"I have written the whole play in poetry. With Kuldeep Singh doing the music, the whole experience with the children enacting the parts becomes very beautifully watchable. It's for both the kids and their parents."
Before this, the lyricist teamed up with kids for his musical play Pinocchio.
"Earlier I adapted 'Pinocchio' for the stage with Zakir Hussain's music. It was choreographed by Baswati, who is Pandit Birju Maharaj's daughter-in-law."
"We held the play in the open-air Indira Gandhi stadium in Delhi. It had 200 children dancing Kathak. Now we are trying to reduce the size of the set so we can stage 'Pinocchio' in a closed theatre."
The lyricist says he is not a theatre veteran but enjoys doing plays off and on.
"I haven't done that much work in theatre. But I do like to be associated with theatre. I am like the root of the peepal tree. I'd like to be present in every spice.
"Theatre is a vibrant art form and you get your response immediately. It's not dependent on the box office. It isn't as if I have come to theatre suddenly. My play 'Kharashein' has done about 50 shows for three years. We have also had performance of the play in New York.
"Also, the story on which my unreleased film 'Libaas' is based has also been done in theatre with the title 'Kachche Lamhe Ka Naam Se'. My assistant Salim Arif has directed it. Salim was my assistant in films. Now I am his assistant in theatre."
Gulzar feels the film scene has become complacent.
"Directors and actors have reached a kind of saturation in cinema. Good artistes like Shabana (Azmi), Naseer (Naseeruddin Shah), Om (Puri), Paresh (Rawal), Sachin, Anupam and Kirron Kher are turning to theatre to re-vitalise themselves."
The versatile creator says he's still learning about the medium of the theatre.
"I feel like a student of the medium. I am excited about my latest play Agar Aur Magar. It's being produced by IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association). We are staging it at Prithvi Theatres with kids in the lead. I go to the rehearsals regularly. For Agar Aur Magar I have also sat with the artistes for the reading."