“Friends” -- On the various TV Channels -- remains the favourite programme among the English Speaking youth. But all of them are in their late twenties if at all!
Our get togethers today share the warmth and intimacies, and joy and laughter of days gone by when we were in our early twenties – but without the slapstick, and of memories of progress through almost three decades for many of us!!!
Distances and language have kept many of us apart. I have attempted to straddle both fronts. And in the past have often travelled to the suburbs to witness Hindi and Marathi plays produced, directed, acted by friends.
And on the few occasions when a Hindi or a Marathi play played at the NCPA or Rabindra Natya Mandir or the Nehru Auditorium – venues nearer my home -- it was taken for granted that we theatre fiends would spend the hours after the play at my place.
It was a tradition started with Dinesh Thakur, Nadira Babbar and Rohini and Jaydev Hattangady. Whenever they traveled to South Mumbai, it was taken for granted that they would come over to my home for drinks and dinner. I had missed that bonding in the last years when Jaydev took ill.
I was delighted to find Rohini sitting next to me on opening night of M. K. Raina’s “Chanda Mama Dur Ke” at the recently concluded Nehru Centre National Drama festival which brought a number of National School of Drama friends from various parts of the country to Mumbai.
It was the first time I was seeing Rohini without Jaydev. And was thrilled when she agreed that she would come over after the show.
The Festival opened with M K RAINA”S “Chanda Mama Dur Ke” -- a dialogue between a mother and her unborn child, written by Neeta Mohindra .
Directed by M.K. Raina, it was a heart-wrenching one-act play with Neeta Mohindra from Amritsar playing the lead.
After the play, M K, Neeta, Rohini and I drove to my home. And over wine and rum and coke, and tandoori and biryani from Noorani’s we caught up with each others career graphs and emotional high and lows. M K had a number of interesting theatre experiences to share -- particularly with his work in Kashmir.
The next day of the festival had friend Usha Ganguli from Kolkata with her play Chehre.
Chehre is an examination of the vices of alcoholism and violence, and the insecurity, emotional torture and uncertainty it injects into family dynamics. The play tells the story of 5 women – a grandmother, her 2 daughters, and her 2 granddaughters – all victims of circumstance who react differently to cope with their troubled lives.
Written & Directed by S.M. Azhar Aalam and Produced by Rangkarmee, Kolkatta, it was Conceptualized by Usha Ganguly who played the alchoholic mother of the young daughters.
And again it was theatre night on my carpet with Usha Ganguli, Nadira Babbar, and Rohini
After dissecting the plays brutally, and a-no-holds-barred analyzing the motivations of the actors and directors, we settled down to a comfortable comraderie. Both these evening were enriching experiences. From Kashmir, to Amritsar, from Calcutta to Mumbai was covered – and all emanating from Delhi. Lost friends were remembered. Tears moistened our eyes as we exchanged saddened stories of friends and families and their pain and suffering. And the joy of sharing it all strengthened the theatre bond that encompasses all boundaries of religion and faith and language. We promised to catch up next year at the Nehru Festival. Inshaallah!!!