He asks her, “How much of a woman are you, and how much of a writer?” She replies, “For you, only a woman. Remember, once when you had fever, and I rubbed Vicks on your chest? My only wish at that moment was that I keep rubbing Vicks on your chest for the rest of my life. Now only a woman can feel that way, isn’t it?” And she giggles. Feigning her deep, etched pain. The pain that gnawed at her soul when she was younger, but with which she has reconciled now. Instead, now in her old age, she takes shelter in that very pain. It takes her back to him…..
Chaste Urdu. Pure love. Doomed love. What you read about only in books now, or watch in old movies, came alive last evening. With Deepti Naval and Shekhar Suman, playing the part of Amrita Pritam and Sahir Ludhianvi, in their much-talked about play, Ek Mulaqaat. Sahir Ludhianvi and Amrita Pritam had been lovers, each a big fan of the other’s work, but whose romance, love did not culminate into marriage. The pain of separation which they lived with during their lifetime, forms the crux of the play.
The close to 90-minutes play, had most of Sahir Ludhianvi’s popular songs sung differently, in a ghazal format, and his poems. Mostly his love ones. Deepti Naval played the part of Amrita Pritam effortlessly. She even sang a few songs. The sweetness of her voice took me back to her ‘Chasme Baddoor’ days. Shekhar Suman, was a revelation. Recited verses after verses in pure Urdu; displayed clear tongue and restraint in his role as Sahir. While Deepti Naval potrayed the fiery side of Amrita Pritam, fiery even in old age. Her recitations and the one live song, came from the heart, replete with sighs and mournfulness.
Their age difference (Amrita was older than Sahir), showed clearly between Deepti Naval and Shekhar Suman. The sunny terraces and the inviting chairs in the chill of the Delhi winters, the roadside noises and conversations, were all beautifully recreated. What they perhaps need to change, is the colour lighting that appeared to be too ‘on your face’.
The play doesn’t have an interval, which is nice. Allows the conversation between the lovers to carry on without a break. Make sure you do not take your kids for Ek Mulaqaat. There is nothing for them. They won’t understand one word. And it will be criminal if they were to lose patience and disturb the others in the audience.