HEER RANJHA: After Loona… it was very refreshing to play “Heer”, as it was entirely of a different genre. The beauty is…when I had gone to Chandigarh; I was not aware or familiar with the culture n literature of Punjab. I hailed from Calcutta, was familiar with the Bengali culture & language. I knew “Rabindranath Tagore”, “Rabindra sangeet”. Once in Punjab, I was acquainted with “Shiv Batalvi”, “Heer”, “gidda”, “tappe” etc. In spite of a being a Punjabi, I did not follow the language much, so really had to work on it & cut down on my English & Bengali accent. Punjab & its people are so infectious, that one starts enjoying the learning process & in no time becomes one of them.

                                                                                                           Heer Ranjha         

The ballet Heer-Ranjha, was expected to do well & it did so. I remember…one of our shows, was held in Mumbai (Bombay then). It was on the “vaisakhi” day; many famous personalities of Punjab were to perform in different acts & there was a prize for the best performer too.  Mr. Gurdas Mann was a rage then & he was to perform also. I too was a fan of his. Once the function got over; the organisers had to announce the winner. As expected, they announced the name of Gurdas Maanji.

                                                                            Heer Ranjha

I was back-stage then, when all of a sudden I heard a lot of shouting in the audience. I assumed that the uproar was for our Punjabi idol Gurdas Maanji. I too rushed towards the wings to catch a glimpse of him & to witness his aura. When I reached there, I saw him calming down the audience & saying he will just do the needful. I held my breath when he turned towards the wings. I could not move an inch; I thought I was lucky enough to have a closer look at him. I realised that he was giving instructions to look for someone & the organizers were going helter-skelter for so as it was quite dark over there. Before I could grasp the situation, I spotted one of them pointing at me & dashing towards me. Gurdas Mannji too turned towards me, came closer, flashed his most charming smile, held my hand affectionately, & I heard the sweetest voice telling me that I performed so wonderfully. He took me to the stage with him & I kept looking at him amazed. Then, once again I heard the frenzy shouts & realised that all this while people had been shouting…”Heer…Heer”, as they had loved my performance. They were finally satisfied when the prize was shared between Gurdas Mannji & me. I could not stop my tears.

Mirza-Sahibaan: Rani Balbir Kaur, a famous personality of the punjabi theatre… wanted to revive her play…Mirza- Sahibaan. When she was young, she had played the role of Sahibaan. She was also a professor in the Indian Theatre of the Punjab University. Many of her students wanted her to cast them as Sahibaan. She was not willing to as she had her own concept of Sahibaan; & no one around seemed to match it. When she described her concept of a Sahibaan to her daughter Komal, Komal jumped & told her that there is such a girl in her collage, named…Seema Kapoor.

                                                                                                                  Mirza Sahibaan

As destiny would play its part, that same evening, Dad had taken me to watch a play…&…Rani Balbirji along with Komal was there. The minute Raniji spotted me, she kept staring at me; she pointed at me & murmured to Komal…”there is my Sahibaan”. When Komal turned to look at me, she was pleasantly surprised that her mom had approved of the same girl, whom she had earlier suggested. In no time, they walked up to me & fixed a meeting. You bet…in a couple of days, I was rehearsing as Sahibaan. It was again a very challenging role; I loved every bit of it & performed to the hilt. All the papers paid such compliments that I was ecstatic. It was also my last play of Chandigarh…as I shifted to Bombay.

                                                                                      Mirza Sahibaan

       EK GHORA TEEN SAWAAR, &, MAIN ZINDA HOON: The 2 plays, that I worked in, at Mumbai, with Nadira Babbarji. Ek ghora… was a light comedy, nothing great but just fun. Main zinda Hoon was close to my heart. It was an adaptation of “Look back in anger”. I loved doing this experiment theatre.

                                        Ek Ghoda Teen Sawaar            Ek Ghoda Teen Sawaar   

                 Main Zinda Hoon             Main Zinda Hoon

SIX IN A FIX: An English play, commercial, comedy…good, but nothing awesome about it. I just loved the idea that I was casted opposite Benjamin Gilani…from whom I further learnt that what professional ethics were all about.

Shadyantra: A play in which I played the role of an active lesbian; who is a doctor by profession. It was a thrilling murder mystery. The funniest part was that in the climax, the scene was lengthy…between my co-worker & me; & each dialogue was a page n a half. Now my co-worker would invariably forget her lines during the show.  As a result, after finishing my dialogue, I had to say,” I know Puja what’s in your mind, U want to say”…. & there, I had to say her complete dialogue, then get back to  my lines, & back to her lines…mine, hers, mine, hers & mine…. God…It was crazy…Ultimately the whole climax used to be enacted by me as I didn’t want the play to fall apart; whereas all that my co-worker did was…miserably & thankfully kept nodding at me. Gosh! I had some guts to do that & she had some nerve to go on like that!

All the plays that I did in Mumbai were no match at all to what I had done earlier in life at Chandigarh… it was intensely a serious business there with such depth & projection…. that spirit was amiss here, in spite of being highly paid here. After a point, my heart- beats stopped beating for theatre…until…

A SUITABLE BRIDE: Came in my stride. It is my most favourite play. All about it is mentioned in my post…The Suitable Bride. Do have a look.

MADE FOR EACH OTHER: Another play, with the same team of… A suitable bride…BUT, after A Suitable Bride, I did not wish to pick up any other play…as nothing was beyond it. People who have watched the play…would surely understand…only God’s power enabled me to the 12 roles in one play… live… with different get-ups & body language…. oh so dear to me…THE STAGE & THE THIRD BELL!!!



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