Modern Hindi theatre requires strong scripts to compete with their Marathi and Bengali counterparts, feels Veteran actor Om Puri, who is back on stage after 25 years, with his directorial venture 'Teri Amrita'.
The performance will be a part of the Punjabi Theatre Festival.'Teri Amrita', a Punjabi adaptation of Tumhari Amrita by Javed Siddiqui was inspired by the play 'Love Letters' by AC Gurney. It will show Puri playing the role of Zulfiqar Haidar, while Divya Dutta will portray the role of Amrita Nigam.
"I was very nervous initially when I decided to make a comeback in theatre. I started off with theatre when I was a teenager and was spotted by directors of the Punjab Kala Manch at a college play. Now at this point of life, when I am turning 64, I want to go back to my first love. I want to continue with theatre. I want to act and will be producing theatre from now on," says veteran actor Om Puri
When asked about his return with 'Teri Amrita' he said, "A person who knows how to swim, but was out of touch and after 25 years you throw him into deep water, he will not be able to do it. Same here, thats why I chose a simple play, there is no music, no set, nothing to learn, you just have to present."
The one-and-a half hour play stages a conversation through love letters exchanged between Amrita and Zulfiqar over thirty-five years. " This play aims to strike a chord in the mindset of mature audience, it will touch human emotions at all levels - humour, pathos and irony at various stages of the play," said one of the organisers. According to the actor Hindi Theatre is growing, though it never had a tradition like the Marathi or Bengali ones. "The local fish sellers there in Bengal and Mumbai, go and watch theatres, When I went to Mumbai for the first time, I went and watched a Marathi play, and I didn't know a word in Marathi, there was the box office booking going on and when I asked what it was about, I learnt it was about a theatre, I was impressed with the whole thing, Hindi theatre never had that".
Om Puri, an alumnus of the National School of Drama, started his career as a stage artist along with Naseeruddin Shah, is optimistic about the growth of theatres.
"Although people are coming to theatre after Naseeruddin and me went to Bombay, people have started coming to theatres, thinking if these people can be actors, why can't we?", said Puri.
He added "NSD has a recognition now, now film makers choose actors with theatre background, theatre is known for quality."
Speaking about the state of Hindi theatre in the country, Puri said, "Hindi theatre cannot make you survive on the money you earn from it can't make you a living".
The play an adaption to the Indian context of A R Gurney's Pulitzer Prize-nominated play, Love Letters (1988).