Despite An Arrest The Show Went On
BANGALORE:Two chairs, two tables, two actors, hundreds of letters and a grand success. In 1992, when the play Tumhari Amrita was first staged, little did Feroz Abhas Khan, its director, realise it would make history.
It started off with a commitment to stage just two shows as a tribute to actor Jennifer Kapoor. Now, 20 years and 300 shows later, this two-act, 90-minute play still elicits strong emotions from the audience and won a standing ovation from the packed Chowdiah Memorial Hall here on Friday.
Tumhari Amrita is the story of unreciprocated love, played out through love letters between Amrita Nigam (Shabana Azmi) and Zulfikar Haider (Farooque Shaikh) over 35 years. Written by Javed Siddiqi, it is a timeless tale of ‘opposites attract’.
Speaking after the show, Ms. Azmi revealed how, after 20 years of playing the character of Amrita, she was able to relate to several of her qualities. “Amrita is a full-blooded and intense character. I can relate to all of her characteristics...her mood swings, her wit and her loneliness.”
When asked how the team has been able to get a full house even today, she said, “It is the script that is the star. It is successful because there is an Amrita and Zulfi in each one of us.” At a time when emails can be sent at a single click, letters are associated with nostalgia and the romance in writing letters is appealing, she added.
Ms. Azmi explained that passion kept the play going.
In 1993, when they were supposed to stage the play in Mumbai, she was arrested for allegedly inciting a riot, but refused to seek bail or accept the charges. Although the organisers offered the audience a refund, they chose to wait. Ms. Azmi was rushed to the venue after her mother convinced the police that she could be taken back to jail when the play was over.
“The show was at 6 p.m. and I reached a few minutes after 8 p.m. At the end of the show, we got a standing ovation.”
The actor believes theatre gives more time to relive the character and stimulate one’s emotion, when compared to film.
“Theatre is considered an actor’s medium and film is considered a director’s medium. But I consider both a writer’s medium.”
Expressing concern over the state of theatre today, she said, “Radical theatre has taken a back seat. There is great need for theatre to be radical and political.”
Ms. Azmi, who has also been a social activist, said the Left has an “important” role. “This is the only way checks and balances can be maintained in a globalised economy. The Left has faced a set back over the past few months, but it is even more relevant now.”