She did it her way

Poorna Kulkarni
Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Pushkar Rangmanch will put up a play on the life and times of poet Amrita Pritam in the city this weekend

Amrita Pritam, a prominent 20th century Punjabi poet, novelist and essayist, was loved by people in both India and Pakistan. This year happens to be her birth centenary year and as a tribute to the writer, whose writing was far ahead of its time, a city-based theatre group, Pushkar Rangmanch, will be staging the first show of their Hindi play, Laut Aao Amrita on Saturday evening. 

Sonal Mahajan Aina, who has directed the play, and Namita Prakash who conceptualised it, share their thoughts about Pritam and their production.  

Impressions of Amrita Pritam
What struck Aina most about Pritam’s writing is its relevance. “After every reading of Amrita’s literary work, I realised that her writing is relatable and relevant even in today’s times. Amrita faced a lot of criticism, yet she continued to write fearlessly and that was what inspired me to present her story on the stage,” says Aina, who co-directed the play with Soumitra Chepe.
Based on the research of actors, directors and content presenter Namita Prakash, the impression of Amrita in their minds was that of a lady who was way ahead of her time. “Amrita’s stories depicted vulnerabilities, struggles and loneliness of women. Mostly, her stories dealt with the efforts put up by women to come out of their struggles. These stories gave an insight into the kind of lady she was — bold, strong, fearless and powerful,” adds Aina.

Prakash joins the conversation and says, “When I read one of Amrita’s works, it left me quite intrigued and made me realise that her story needed to be told. She was bold and honest and crystal clear about her thoughts. For instance, Amrita liked Sahir Ludhianvi and was not only open about it but also admitted it clearly. She was also affectionate towards her partner, Imroz. Main tujhe phir milungi was the last poem she wrote for Imroz.” 

The play
Laut Aao Amrita is a combination of storytelling and enactment of important events, including literary readings of Amrita’s work, on the stage. “We have set the play in the ’70s. A character named ‘Seema’ (played by Namita Prakash), who is a writer, accidentally stumbles upon one of Amrita’s works and is intrigued by her writing. This sets Seema on a quest to know more about Amrita and her life. Laut Aao... elaborates on all the phases of Amrita’s life — her childhood, the phase when she was working in radio, the Partition phase (in which she wrote Ajj Akhaan Waris Shah nu), her equations with poet-lyricist Sahir and painter Imroz and how she was perceived in writers community,” says Aina. Three of her literary works — Junglee Booti, Ek Roomal, Ek Anguthi, Ek Channi and Karma wali — have been included in the play.

ST Reader Service
Catch Hindi play Laut Aao Amrita at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Hirabaug, Tilak Road on April 27 at 7 pm. Tickets are available at the venue, one hour prior to the show.

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