In the classroom called life

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Actors Sanjay Dadhich and Aahna Kumra, who are performing in Sir, Sir, Sarla play, express their thoughts on the characters 

Sir, Sir, Sarla, Makarand Deshpande’s longest running play, is going to be staged on Friday evening in the city. The play opened in 2001 with Anurag Kashyap, Sonali Kulkarni and Makarand playing the lead characters. Over the years, Makarand wrote two more parts. In the show at Pune, Sir, Sir...will have part one and a portion from part two in it. 

The play, which reopened in 2012, now has Sanjay Dadhich, Faisal Rashid, Aahana Kumra and Makarand playing the main roles.  Talking about the play, Dadhich says, “I am playing Phanidhar, who is in love with Sarla. Both of them and Keshav are Hindi literature students of Palekar Sir. Sarla is in love with Palekar Sir, but he says that it’s ethically wrong and on his insistence, she gets married to another student. Phanidhar is a little angry with Sir saying that he could have helped him win Sarla’s love.”

The play starts with a dream, Phanidhar and Palekar Sir are talking about past days. At interval point, Sarla comes to meet Palekar Sir and then what happens is the crux of the play. Interestingly, when the original play opened to the public, Dadhich was a backstage artist. “At that time, I was very new and doing backstage. So it never struck me that I would portray this character sometime in the future. I was happy to be associated with a great play,” he says.

But he must have observed something, we insist. Dadhich replies, “The intervening period between the original and the play with the new cast was quite long. If I had absorbed any nuances, I had forgotten by the time I performed Phanidhar on stage.”

Aahana Kumra, who is currently performing Sarla, hadn’t watched Sonali Kulkarni as the protagonist. Says she, “I haven’t seen Sonali Kulkarni play Sarla because I wasn’t in Mumbai then. But I know that she and Anurag were fantastic in it. 

Everyone who has watched the play with the original cast have always praised the duo. So I am extremely glad that I got to work in the play, a role, which was played by Sonali. I have seen her other performances and she is a fire-brand performer.”

When asked about their connection with individual characters, Aahana says, “I connected with Sarla immediately because all of us have been through something like this. We have been in love with our teachers or an older person, who we look up to. That relationship is not sexual; there is so much admiration for that person that you want to spend your life with him. I share a relationship like that with Makarand sir, Naseer sir.  They are all about pushing their students, encouraging them, giving them the right direction and so on. I think that’s the relationship Sarla shares with her professor. I think this is a very real-life character.  As an audience, you will identify with all the characters. You will say, ‘F*** I have been like this at that point of my life’.”

Dadhich, who has acted in movies like  M S Dhoni: The Untold Story, Taare Zameen Par and Netflix’s Sacred Games says, “Everyone who has fallen in love, will identify with Phanidhar. Especially, if it’s a one-sided love.”

The play also talks about mentorship and both the lead actors profess their admiration for their mentors. Dadhich had met Makarand after his class XII and wanted a role in a play. Makarand asked him to complete his graduation and then meet him. Meanwhile, Dadhich assisted on films, worked on other jobs and when he told Makrand that he was bored of assisting, the theatre veteran asked Dadhich to concentrate on plays. “I am not a trained actor. So whatever I am today is because of Makarand sir. I have been working with him for 15 years and he has given me good roles in good plays. Makarand sir is one of the best actors that we have. He has written about 50 plays out of which 25 plays can be studied as classics,” adds Dadhich.

Aahana, of Lipstick under my Burkha fame, says that Naseer (Shah) sir, Ratna (Pathak Shah) ma’am and Makarand Deshpande are my three pillars. “They taught me about being disciplined on stage, being alert, how to tune things according to each one’s performance, how give and take happens. You see them doing this day in and day out, and you realise this is how it’s done. 
ST Reader Service 
Watch Hindi play Sir, Sir, Sarla on Friday, October 12, at Balgandharva auditorium, 9 pm  onwards

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