The Poetry Lab

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 15 January 2020

Rangdrishti’s Do Misre is an improvisational Urdu mushaira that would be staged during Pune Natyasattak on January 19. Niranjan Pedanekar tells us more about it

We begin with the tale of a curious, quirky chemistry lab. The scientists of this Ghazal Research Institute are engaged in research, working under candle light, wearing their usual gear of safety goggles and a lab coat with a rose pinned on it.  

The research, as you might have guessed, has to do with sher-o-shayari variety and the scientists have a two-fold task — one is to take the audience through the paces of shayari and the structure of ghazal and secondly, to introduce them to this improvised format through games.

The experiment
“The general idea of Urdu ghazal and poetry is that it is a collection of two lines, and there is a bunch of rules about rhyming and meter. The first line typically creates some sort of anticipation in the reader/listener’s mind and the second line tries to fulfill it. We are trying to adapt the story structure of theatre to it. For instance, can we take individual sher (couplets) or ghazals and convert them into theatre? What would it take to do that? What type of shers would be amenable to storytelling? What type would be amenable to experience creation?” says Niranjan Pedanekar. His theatre group, Rangdrishti, is presenting Do Misre, at Pune Natyasattak Theatre Festival on Sunday, January 19 at Sudarshan Rangmanch.
Pedanekar has roped in budding and established theatre artists, actors and directors from different theatre groups for Do Misre. And helping them decipher the meaning of some couplets would be Kamlesh Biswas, Chaitanya Kulkarni and others who are shayars. In the show, they would be playing the researchers. 

“Do Misre means two lines. We are trying to explore the space between the two lines. We are trying to present this as an experiment and most probably, it will also be seen as one. More than half of the programme is going to be improvisational,” he says.
The format 
The artists (actors and directors) will be given the first line of a couplet and they have to come up with a situation based on it and then on the second line, in about five minutes. They would have to create a story with a proper graph. 

“We want to see how many different types of situations can people create based on one line given to two-three different groups. We have ensured that in one group, we have someone who is actively writing Urdu poetry, someone who is a writer and a couple of directors and actors. We have some students from SP College, then there are a few artists from Swatantra Theatre. There is one Aarti Singh who speaks Hindi. So we have shayari in Marathi, Hindi and Urdu,” adds Pedanekar.

When asked what type of storytelling emerged from their rehearsals so far, the data scientist says, “We gave one sher to a group which goes something like this —  At this moment, I don’t really expect to trust resolutions that I made to myself (first line). The second line says — I don’t know where this desire of mine will take me this evening. So the group came up with a story of a guy who was addicted to PUBG, went through counselling and is now more stable. But then there is complaint from a senior that another employee is not performing well, because he plays PUBG. So the first guy who is now stable, wants to go and talk to this second person, but he doesn’t, thinking that he might get addicted to the online game again.” 

The test of the experiment
Pedanekar, who in the past has directed plays like Shahi Paharedar, Upashya and Machine, is working on a hunch and is confident that the hypothesis will be tested and received well. 
“The Urdu audience over the last three-four years has grown, mainly because of Sukhan (an Urdu poetry programme). There is a big chunk of crowd who is interested in that. And, then there are people who are on the intersection of theatre and ghazals. They are bound to like this experiment, because there are certain things which are happening in front of you (the introduction of shers and the story format that follows it), and are interesting enough to draw you in. There are also people who are completely uninitiated and who treat ghazals as something that is sung with a glass of drink perhaps. For them, Do Misre  will show some theatre, some poetry. Most of the writing that we have included is going to be slightly understandable poetry. We are also going to use projections and explain meanings of difficult words,” he says.

The team is using couplets by well-known shayars, because the artist says, it’s validated if we take a known shayar’s works. “Do Misre is an attempt to explore something from a third person’s point of view. I thought it’s therefore better to stay away from our own compositions, because we have undue affection for whatever we produce,” he adds. 

Watch Rangdrishti’s Do Misre on Sunday, January 19, 6.30 pm at Sudarshan Rangmanch, Shaniwar Peth. Tickets available on

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