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Kharaashein leaves a mark

Kharaashein,a collage of Gulzar’s literary creations on riots was finally staged in Lucknow on Sunday.

Written by Mohd Arshi Rafique | Published: February 16, 2009 1:20 am

Gulzar’s creation stirs emotions

Kharaashein,a collage of Gulzar’s literary creations on riots was finally staged in Lucknow on Sunday. Originally scheduled to be staged in 2004,Salim Arif’s much acclaimed play was then denied permission by the government as it felt the screening could incite communal passions.

Today,when it was staged before the “sensitive Lucknow residents” the play did incite emotions not passion.

“Such stark realities put in perspective help people face their common fears…it propagate communal harmony not disharmony,” aptly remarked one amongst the audience that included Gulzar and other theatre connoisseurs like Gopi Chand Narang,Raj Biseria to name a few.

Based on the insanity of riots and how they affect the psyche of a common man,Kharaashein comprises verses and short stories by Gulzar. Characters take turns to recite the poetry while pairing up to enact the skits in the language that is quintessentially Gulzar -a kind that draws his fans in droves.

The poignant story of a young Sikh couple from Pakistan who had to catch the “train to India” with their newborn reminds of the partition pangs. Circumstances forcing the father to throw his living child into the waters of the Ravi as the train passes over it,mistaking it to be the one who had already died have been effectively portrayed. The climax showing the mother holding the dead baby and making efforts to make her sleep puts the audience in gasp of horror.

Another skit on Mumbai riots with Atul Kulkarni portraying a petrified train commuter hiding from his lone travelling companion fearing he might be killed because he is Muslim depicts yet another horror tale.

A near panic situation is created in the story of two men out in the night violating of curfew orders. Each confronts the other,demanding to know which community he belongs to,while shielding his own identity. The hostility reaches a point of frenzy until they realise they have a common enemy in the police that night,and in the forces of communalism. Then there is a tale of a Bengali couple cleaning Hilsa fish for their lunch one afternoon against the backdrop of the riots. The man comments that one should not buy fish from May through August because that is their breeding period. The lady of the house confirms that when she slits open the fish to find a host of fish eggs inside. Meanwhile,the man picks up the day’s newspaper – to find the story of a pregnant woman who was killed by rioters in the city. The comparison with fish’s eyes with one of the pregnant woman again stirs emotion and reminds of wounds such events leave inflicts. Performers – Lubna Salim,Yashpal Sharma,Atul Kulkarni,Anoop Soni – live up to their reputation as seasoned artistes.

While the play,marred with beeping cell phone tunes,effectively stirs emotions of the audiences,it also gives a kind of Kharaashein to performers who had high hopes from the tehzeeb pasand art connoisseurs.

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