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    Shekar Suman and Deepti Naval weave magic in Urdu, in a play that celebrates love and poetry.

    A play in Urdu is not something most people would take up a�� a language that many dona��t understand and one that youa��d assume would attract only a niche audience.A� But that didna��t stop the team behind Ek Mulaqaat a�� director Saif Hyder Hasan and actors Shekar Suman and Deepti Naval. The play, which premiered in 2014 in Mumbai, and is debuting in the city next weekend, depicts a fictional meeting between real-life poets and lovers, Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam.
    And Suman, for one, confesses that he was a�?destineda�? to play the role. a�?As a kid, I was obsessed with Sahir. An uncle of mine used to tell me stories about him, and read me his work. He gave me a book called Parchhaiyan, which has a collection of his nazms (poems). And as I was growing up, I realised that all the beautiful lyrics in Guru Dutta��s and Dev Ananda��s films were his,a�? smiles the actor, who was recommended for the role by Naval and was so delighted that he learnt his lines in just three days.

    On stage
    But it wasna��t smooth sailing for Naval, who made her stage debut with the play. a�?I wasna��t confident I could pull it off because I always thought the stage needed a powerful voice,a�? laughs the soft-spoken actress, recalling how she almost pulled out when Hasan and Suman announced the play earlier than expected. a�?Moreover, since I knew Amrita personally (she used to meet the writer every time she visited Delhi, spending hours talking about life and literature), it was tricky to play her. It was a big responsibility for me because I couldna��t do any wrong to her,a�? shares Naval.While Ek Mulaqaat a�� which takes place on a chilly wintera��s evening in Delhi a�� addresses many questions that have cropped up about the poetsa�� relationship, the cast and crew found that any fears about it not connecting with audiences were unfounded.

    Real vs reel
    a�?People who understand the language, love the play, and those who dona��t, understand the emotion,a�? states Hasan, who says Ek Mulaqaat gave him a creative high. a�?I wanted to do a play in Urdu and this popped into my head. I then brought in my co-writer, Sumana Ahmed, who writes very good Urdu,a�? says the journalist-turned-director, adding hea��s kept the sets simple a�� a couple of lamp posts, two chairs and a bench a�� so as to let the poetry and songs tell the tale. Hea��s also included three Bollywood hit songs a�� Abhi na jao chhod kar, Chalo ek baar phir ajnabi ban jaye and Kabhi kabhi a�� but states that he’s changed the music. a�?I have new tunes, by composer Parivesh Singh, because the situations in the films are different from what transpires in the play. For example, Abhi na jao, a soft, romantic number in the film, is a haunting melody in ours,a�? he concludes.
    On June 17, at Sir Mutha Hall, at 7.15 pm. Rs 700 – Rs 2,500. Details: in.bookmyshow.com

    a��Surya Praphulla Kumar


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