CHENNAI: Abhi Na Jao Chhodke, Kabhi Kabhi Mere Dil Mein…the words never fail to spark the tune to the actual song. This retro magic of verses were penned by Sahir Ludhianvi, a legendary poet who is not unfamiliar with the likes of Hindi music lovers. One name closely associated with his is Amrita Pritam. Their unfulfilled love story has been awe-inspiring for decades. Revisiting their past is Saif Hyder Hasan through the play Ek Mulaqaat, directed by him and to be performed in the city on June 17.
Mind you, it is neither a history play nor a narration of their romance. Saif introduces a hypothetical situation weaving in the real-life moments. To those unfamiliar with the duo’s story, here is Saif’s brief about it. “Amrita, a Punjabi poet met Sahir in the 1940s. Though they fell in love, they never got together. Amrita was already with another artist but she still fell in love with him. Sahir never spoke about their love in public, he was commitment-phobic. In 1980, when Sahir died, Amrita wrote something in her diary that resounds the depth of their connection.”
She wrote, Aaj mere khuda ki maut ho gayi (Today, my god passed away). “Their complex relationship is like a silent film, they never spoke too much but understood each other very well. Their poetry connected their souls,” he narrates.
In Ek Mulaqaat, he has introduced a hypothetical chapter – what if, one October evening, the two meet? How would their romance unveil with a little help from their poetry? Playing their roles are actors Shekhar Suman and Deepti Naval. “Casting is like getting married. Your choice for a spouse/actor could be right or wrong and it all depends on your instinct. It has been 52 shows now with amazing responses!” smiles Saif, reliving memories of people walking out with tears, coming back for the fourth or fifth time. “They may not understand the words or language, but they understand the language of love.”
Ek Mulaqaat is a Hindi play with a lot of Urdu verses and poetry that are originally Sahir’s. It is co-written by Sumana Ahmed and Saif.
Saif usually adds his own poetry to his scripts, but this script needed the original essence of the greats.
Recalling what influenced him, he says, “When I was in Delhi for a while, was addicted to Seagull publications. They would print all kinds of plays in many languages, each costing `10.”
He says he got into theatre by accident, but the joy of the accident wanted him to get hit by a truck again!