I was 10 when my house was ransacked and burnt down. I left in a car with my brother and parents, leaving everything behind. We thought we’d come back, but we never did,” says Adhir Bhat, lead actor of the upcoming play, Gasha. This vivid memory is one of many that Bhat has incorporated in the play, which revolves around two Kashmiri boys — one Pandit and the other Muslim — and how the militancy has affected their friendship over the years.
The play has been written by Irawati Karnik and directed by Abhishek Majumdar. Bhat is joined on stage by actor Sandeep Shikhar. It is part of the Kashmir trilogy consisting of the plays Rizwaan and Djinns of Eidgah. “We felt that the Kashmiri pandit side of the story hadn’t been explored in the first two parts. Agha Shahid Ali’s poetry, on which Rizwaan is based, has a lot to do with the distance between Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims,” says Majumdar.
The team travelled to the state and researched extensively before writing the script. “We interviewed locals and Adhir’s family. We spoke to both Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims and then devised the play over a year,” says Majumdar.
Bhat also shared many of his experiences with the writers. “Abhishek told me that he wanted to do a play about a Kashmiri Pandit boy. Because I am one and the role needed gravity and depth, he asked me to join in,” says Bhat. “We kept improvising the script for a year. I gave them a lot of inputs, as it’s the same story as my life’s. I lost everything when I left Kashmir.”
Bhat’s father organises an annual puja at the Kheer Bhawani temple in Tulmul, Kashmir to keep in touch with his roots. The puja is where the Bhats’ friends and family get together to reminisce about life in their homeland. This experience is now part of the play.
Gasha is on September 5 at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu at 6 pm and 9 pm.