Discovering Sahir Ludhianvi: ‘Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shair Hoon’ to be staged in Hyderabad

A mesmerizing confluence of poetry and performance is set to unfold at Shilpakala Vedika in Hyderabad as the Hindustani theatre production “Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shair Hoon” prepares to bring the story and verses of the distinguished Urdu poet and lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi to life on the 24th of February.

Grasping the opening lines of a cherished song from the classic movie Kabhi Kabhie, the play invites its audience to journey through an intimate portrayal of Ludhianvi’s persona and artistic legacy. Having garnered rave reviews with its full houses in Mumbai and New Delhi, this production, a result of the collaborative efforts of The Hoshruba Repertory and Art for Causes, intends to channel proceeds from ticket sales to fuel charitable work in education and healthcare.

The two-hour stage portrayal meticulously weaves Ludhianvi’s poignant poetry and timeless songs through the semi-autobiographical narrative. The play penned by Mir Ali Husain and Himanshu Bajpai, and directed by Danish Husain, marks a stirring enactment of an interview with Sahir Ludhianvi set against a backdrop of the 1970s. On a convergent artistic front, a contemporary band of young, passionate musicians recreate the iconic melodies initially brought to life by Ludhianvi’s lyrical mastery.

The genesis of this artistic embodiment of Ludhianvi was propitious, beginning with a creative alliance formed in the summer of 2023. Hyderabad-based artist and documentary filmmaker Amita Talwar, who had once produced a documentary on lyricist Kaifi Azmi for Doordarshan, harbored a long-standing aspiration to spotlight Ludhianvi along with five other renowned lyricists. Although the initial plan did not materialize years ago, her documentary sublime on Azmi became a steppingstone to this theatrical venture based on Ludhianvi’s centenary remembrance.

In her quest, Talwar found partnership through producer Elahe Hiptoola and New York-based writer and script consultant Mir Ali Husain, who had delved deep into Ludhianvi’s life and works. The bond was fortified with Danish Husain, a theatre actor and director, with whom Talwar had previously coalesced to pay homage to Begum Akhtar through the play “Akhtari: Dastan Bai Se Begum Tak”.

Danish Husain, the man behind the portrayal of Sahir Ludhianvi, set out on this dramatic endeavor aiming to commemorate the 11th anniversary of The Hoshruba Repertory. Eager to amalgamate his artistic vision with Husain’s insights and supported by Himanshu Bajpai’s script, smeared with Ludhianvi’s sensibilities, Danish curated a narrative rich in the poet’s life chapters – from his early struggles, luminous stint in Bollywood to a profound reflection on his verses that championed the unvoiced.

Stage preparations saw an assembly of a potent cadre of actors and musicians; alongside Danish Husain, who adopts the mantle of Ludhianvi, performers Vrinda Vaid, Siddharth N Padiyar, and an ensemble of Shantanyu Herlekar on the harmonium, vocalist Srijonee Bhattacharjee, guitarist Donald Krist, and percussionist Siddarth Nityanand Padiyar enliven the production. Audience engagement reached a new high in earlier shows, as euphoric singing swept across the crowd, blending with the heart-stirring narrative.

Danish Husain reflects on the poetic luminary’s life as a maze of enigma and nuance. A deep dive into Ludhianvi’s rare audio recordings and sparse video archives offered Danish invaluable contexts that shaped his onstage interpretation – further enriched by guidance from renowned lyricist Javed Akhtar regarding the late poet’s idiosyncrasies. The intent resonates clear – not to mimic, but to embody and inspire.

Danish Husain concludes, underscoring the poignancy and influence of Ludhianvi’s life, one that will envelope audiences within an aura of respect and intrigue – propelling them towards deeper exploration of both his known and yet-to-be-discovered works.

The tribute to Sahir Ludhianvi, “Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shair Hoon” promises to be an evening of nostalgic arts, with harmony in verse and life, at Shilpakala Vedika, Hyderabad. Enthusiasts can secure their passage to this immersive experience through for the show starting at 7 pm on February 24th.

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