Ghalib once more
"Shareek-e-Ghalib", a musical drama by M. Sayeed Alam, finds a superb interpretation on stage by the students of Salwan Public School at New Delhi's Talkatora Stadium the other day.
"Shareek-e-Ghalib" with the same editing could be a beautiful play for general audiences
A FITTING TRIBUTE A scene from the play "Shareek-e-Ghalib" staged at Talkatora stadium in New Delhi
Nearly a hundred children of Salwan Public School in the age group of 10-18 years presented a musical drama in Urdu "Shareek-e-Ghalib" the other day at the Talkatora Stadium. Written and directed by M. Sayeed Alam, it was indeed a path - breaking event in many respects. Most of the cast was non-Urdu speaking and it is amazing how they picked up the correct pronunciation. In fact, seldom has one heard Urdu being spoken so well on Delhi stage, so much so that a parent of one of the cast members sitting among the audience, was heard saying, "After a few days of rehearsals, my son started correcting the family's pronunciation."
What is more, from the cast's delivery, action and movement, it was obvious that the young actors had a feeling for what they were saying and not just spouting their lines. A remarkable corrective achievement particularly when Urdu was not their mother tongue.
A multi-level set designed by Anup K. Biswas with the Zanankhanna on the first floor, Ghalib's deorhi by its side but on a slightly lower level, and a neutral multi-purpose space at the ground level used as different locations for the mushairas, dance recitals or even a bazaar helped not only to capture the physical environment of Delhi of that time but also to project its social and cultural life.
There have been three to four plays and films made on Ghalib's life but "Shareek-e-Ghalib" is perhaps the only play that covers Ghalib's entire life span.
To carry the story forward, the playwright introduces four different actors as Ghalib at different stages of his life - at the age of 13 when he as a child first meets Mir Taqi Mir; then as a young man of 22 when he falls in love with Mughal Jaan, the famous singer who died at a very young age. To mark the event the director introduces us to Ghalib's beautiful ode to Mughal Jaan written after her death. Next, we meet Ghalib in his middle age with his virtues and vices in the heydays of his creative life.
The two mushairas introduced by the playwright are marked not only for their content but also for the young cast's perfect reaction to the verses being read by the poets on the stage and as expected the audience often picked up the misras.
The presentation had yet another new feature, at least for this reviewer, for one had never before heard qawwalies based on Ghalib's ghazals sung by the singers. What a delight it was to hear, "Subha se dekhenge rasta yaar ka" composed by Mukta Johry and sung by the young cast on the stage. Yet another delight were the mujras choreographed by Laquna Banerjee and the original compositions by Naveen Jain rendered by the casts. And of course, it was a delight to hear yet another beautiful voice on the stage, that of Runa Rai.
The closing scene shows Ghalib in his last days when he could neither speak nor hear, with his last couplet, "dume wapsi barsare raah ha" beautifully rendered in the background and the curtain is brought down with the audience giving a standing ovation: A heart rendering close to a beautiful theatrical experience.
"Shareek-e-Ghalib" with the same editing could be a beautiful play for general audiences. No doubt, it would be expensive, much beyond the means available to most theatre groups in Delhi but surely the State cultural organisations and sponsors could help for "Shareek-e-Ghalib" holds immense theatrical potential.
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