AS AN Urdu writer belonging to the Progessive Writer’s Movement, he has penned classics like Bimal Roy’s Madhumati, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Abhimaan, Anupama and Satyakam, and has directed films such as Dastak and Phagun, but not many remember Rajinder Singh Bedi. “It’s sad how I walk into film offices and no one can recall Rajinder Singh Bedi till I reel off these titles,” says Bedi’s grandaughter Ila Bedi Datta. As the Bedi family celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of the prolific writer, Ila is all set to go on air today with Lajwanti, one of his most poignant works on the Partition.
“He has been hailed as one of the most prominent 20th century Progressive writers of Urdu fiction and is most noted for his chronicles of the Partition. The adaptation of his story is my homage to him,” says Datta, who took two years to adapt the story for the small screen. Made into a telefilm in 2006 by Neena Gupta, Lajwanti was a story Datta initially wanted to recreate for the big screen. “That was 15 years ago.
I really wanted to make a film on this timeless love story of separation, love and loyalty. But wherever I took the script, it was turned down for being too bold or that it would resurface the wounds of Partition.”
Fifteen years later, Datta narrated the story, of a husband and wife post Partition, to Zee TV’s head of programming Ajay Bhalwankar. He took it up. “Lajwanti is a short story that captures the relationship between Sunder Lal and his wife, Lajwanti. It’s also a story that has no definite ending and my grandfather left it open for interpretation. The beauty of his works is that one could read so much between the lines, and that’s what I’ve explored with Lajwanti,” says Datta.
She describes Lajwanti as a progressive and contemporary character, a woman who is separated from her husband during Partition, has to live with another man across the border, and finally is sent back home after Partition.
While Sid Makkar will be playing the educated city dweller Sunder Lal, Chandigarh’s Ankita Sharma will be essaying the role of the spirited village girl, Lajwanti. Datta, meanwhile, has also wrapped up her script for the biopic on hockey legend Dhyan Chand and is now working on a contemporary version of Ek Chadar Maili Si.