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    Sep 2011


    Default Classics survive because of their relevance: Gulzar

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    Gulzar and Salim Arif, who have always given theatre lovers something to rave about, are back once again. The play Paansa, which was earlier titled Yudhistir and draupadi, is based on a long poem by Pavan K Varma that was in English and was translated by Gulzar in Hindi. It explores the relationship between the eldest Pandav and Draupadi. The previous plays that the duo has worked on include the much-acclaimed Kharashein, Lakeerein, Atthaniyaan and Arey O Henry. With this play they explore the world of musicals.

    Saying it with music
    Arif agrees that making a musical is a difficult task. He says that making a musical is like "making three plays at one time". So then what was it that implored him take up the difficult task? "The play needed this kind of treatment. Sometimes lyrics help you underline what you want to say. We have used Gulzar saab's poem's in our plays previously, this time we have used it differently." Speaking about the experiment, Gulzar says, "It's a challenging job, but Salim saab is used to taking challenges. It's difficult to find someone who is an actor-singer. Even the actor has to act in two to three layers. With a musical sometimes the meaning gets hidden behind the sur. You have to manage the sur and expressions because you are also trying to convey some deeper meaning."

    Contemporary mythology
    The play is about a particular moment in Mahabharat when Arjun, Bhim, Nakul and Sahdev die after drinking poisonous water. Yudhistir is then asked to answer a few question to bring his bothers back to life. Though the story is taken from a mythological tale, the relationship between the two has contemporary feel to it. Says Salim, "Mythology wouldn't be as much fun if you can't mould it in a contemporary form. If you use an older story and say something new with it, then it has relevance. It's about how a creative mind interprets it and finds new meanings. Mythology is good to revisit because you don't have to explain the whole story as you assume that people know it." Gulzar adds, "Classics survive because of their relevance. So many people have interpreted many novels. It's a matter of bringing it out in a different manner. What I like about Salim's work is that he has interpreted the story in his own way, has maintained the dignity of a classic."

    Play time
    Gulzar has been more involved with writing for theatre than he ever was. "I am enjoying this medium. I am totally attached to Salim for learning this form. Right from the beginning, I have picked up the threads from him. When a film releases, you become a bit distant. But you are attached to a play. That's because it has live audience. You go on improving it, tweaking it, changing it." And Arif now plans to revive an earlier play. "We plan to revive Atthaniyaan. I also want to do more shows of Arey O Henry."



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