Thirty years ago,with building blocks drawn from his own life,director Mahesh Bhatt had created a film,Arth. The story of a simple,homely woman,who has to pick up the pieces of her life after her husband leaves her for another woman,won Shabana Azmi a National Award. Arth was also the story of several other women,among them a domestic help,and their struggles for self-assertion in a patriarchal society. As Bhatt prepares to adapt the film for the stage for the first time,Delhi-based actor Imran Zahid finds himself playing the man at the centre of a love triangle,the role of a philanderer thats coloured in entirely grey.
Im know this is a woman-centric play. Yet,the male protagonist has a full-fledged role because the story starts with him. Hes the one who falls in love and wants to leave his wife,creating the narrative of trauma and ultimate victory for the women, says Zahid. For the play,he is drawing upon everyday experiences. We all know people whose partners have cheated on them,or who are cheating on their partners. I dont have to think; I have to feel this role, he says. He isnt sold on method acting and,though he watches around 20 films every month,he doesnt copy any actors style. His stage skills have been honed through plays in Delhi,especially with Asmita Theatre Group.
When he is not acting,the actor is a real-life Director of a journalism school called Take One in south Delhi. Unlike many theatre actors,including Nawazuddin Siddiqui,who become famous only after they did films,the stage has been kind to me; I have found creative satisfaction and critical acclaim on the Delhi stage, he says. He also have a film in the pipeline,Marksheet,where he plays Ranjit Don,who allegedly leaked CAT and other exam papers.
Right now,however,Zahid is getting into the mind of a man who asks his loving wife for a divorce.