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Shashi Kapoor all praise for Sanjana

Shashi Kapoor revels in the happy ending of the Prithvi Theatre Festival in New Delhi. Rewati Rau tells more.

india Updated: Dec 06, 2006 18:42 IST

His walk has become a little unsteady and the pace a little slow. But the heady charm from his personality just refuses to fade. India’s legendary film and theatre personality Shashi Kapoor still exudes charisma.

Settling down comfortably on a cosy couch at Kamani auditorium on the closing ceremony of Prithvi Theatre Festival in Delhi, there is contentment on his face as he introduces himself with, “I am Shashi Kapoor.”

He adds, “Sanjana has done a fine job of the birth centenary celebrations of Prithvi Raj Kapoor. With the grace of whoever is up there or probably my father’s soul, I am happy with how things have shaped up.”

Rebooting happiness: Nostalgia takes over as Shashi Kapoor remembers the good old days: “Sometime before 1978, I was riding high in my film career but strangely I was not satisfied. I was confused."

"Then I discussed with my wife and we decided to restart Prithvi Theatre with the play — Udvast Dhamramshala in 1978 and I was happy finally.” Remembering father: The actor soon drifts into reminiscing his father — Prithvi Raj Kapoor.

“He had to close down Prithvi Theatre in 1960 mainly because of two reasons — he was losing many of his good actors to movies and he was also not keeping too well. Because of the different voice intonation he had to use in Mughal-e-Azam, he developed a major voice problem. In fact, there was one play in which he couldn’t speak at all but the audience stayed put. That was when he decided to close down Prithvi Theatre. And that was when I joined films,” says he. Passion v/s profession: He reached the pinnacle of popularity with films but it was theatre where Shashi Kapoor’s heart lay.

“My father always used to say theatre is my nasha and I was happy my films were able to raise money to start Prithvi again,” says he.

His passion for theatre becomes obvious when he says, “We did not stop theatre even the day Jennifer passed away. That’s the idea… the show must go on.”

A decked up stage, actors all around the place, songs playing in the background — Kamani auditorium turned into a theatre lover’s pa radise over the last weekend. The city seemed to enjoy its date with one of the best theatre groups of the country, the Prithvi Theatre which had come with an interesting mix of plays as part of its Prithvi Raj Kapoor birth centenary celebrations. The theme of the festival was Kala Desh Ki Sewa Mein.

The atmosphere was exactly how Sanjana, the late theatre doyen’s grand-daughter, had planned — a complete adda of theatre which included plays, books, films and food. So while guests enjoyed the plays, they also strolled off to pick up a book or grab a bite.

The six plays, performed by theatre groups from across the country, were a delight. Adding to the excitement were the platform performances that opened with Zohra Sehgal’s poetry reading.

The festival culminated beautifully with a special evening organised by Hutch, which has been the sponsor of Prithvi Theatre for the past nine years — it was poetry reading by Gulzar.

A dimly-lit atmosphere with couches all around the venue made it a perfect kavi sammelan. The play Kharashein, which captures the tragedy of a couple losing its twin infants to avoidable circumstances, brought the festival to an end.

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