Tuesday, July 5, 2005
ABOUT THE PLAY...MR. JINNAH
If we drop some ink on a piece of white paper, and ask people to describe what they see. Most of us will see only the blotch of ink. It will take an extremely aware mind to see the white paper around it and not focus on just one tiny stain.
Similarly when a person does something highly appreciable or just the opposite, in both cases, that one deed or misdeed becomes the signature of his character. We focus so much on the visibly outstanding aspect of a life or a person, that we only see the stain on his good deeds and ignore or choose not to acknowledge the background.
Whether it's made of gold or thorns the crown that sits on his head becomes his identity.
The story of “Mr.Jinnah” is one such story of a man, an institution in him self and a journey of a life, set in the form of a play. It's a journey which will take you into Jinnah's heart, mind, psyche and family, which played vital roles in the creation of a much loved, much respected and much detested and much followed persona of Quaid-e-Azam Jinnah.
The play is not just a comment on a statesman's career. It is, author Dr. Narendra Mohan's interpretation of an introspective dialogue of a great leader. A dialogue between his inner and outer self. A dialogue with his support system, which became one of the reasons for his success and downfall. It's a rediscovery of a stoic yet sensitive, introvert and modest man who played a pivotal part in two major upheavals in this part of the continent, first the partition of India, and second the formation of Pakistan.
Like most great tragedies, King Lear, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello the play is more of a psychological scrutiny than a political retrospective or a historical docudrama. The visual treatment of the play is unconventional. The director has chosen a visual depiction of Jinnah’s introspection, his pain, regret and sorrow as out of body projections. The facets of his character, emotional outbursts are simultaneously expressed through his body, heart, mind and soul, played by four actors other than Jinnah himself.
It seems as if the soul of Jinnah is going around the roles he played in his life and how each role suffered for his decisions. The decisions, which either stemmed from fear, concern or ambition.
The protagonist like many other men was unable to express his feelings, and failed to communicate his pain to the people he was closest to. The three women, Fatimah his politically ambitious sister, Ratti his intelligent Parsi wife and Dina his loving daughter, mirror his angst, ambition and antipathy towards his fellow statesmen.
Quaid-e-Azam was all alone after he faced the two most tragic episodes, as his family ruptures, which he endured with the calm and acquiescence. He didn't disclose the anguish of his mind to anyone over these distressing separations.
A sister who proved to be a friend sacrificed her own dreams and became his shadow. She was his alter ego and later became the mother of the nation.
On the other hand Ratti whom he loved dearly was alienated in his political dreams. At 42 he dared to marry a Parsi girl several years younger than him.
But 22 years later the protective father and the over zealous politician almost suffocated his daughter's dreams. While he was aware of it and could not forgive himself, yet he couldn't mend the differences, which resulted in two most distressing estrangements in his family.
On one hand he was progressive and liberal but on the other hand his indifference towards his wife and daughter left him lonely and sad. Till his last days he thought of his daughter. He loved his home in Bombay and wanted to come back to live there.
A father, a friend, a husband, and then a broken man, lonely, hurt and betrayed due to his own lack of judgement. A man, who goes into a shell when he felt cheated, betrayed and misunderstood by many around him. A man who never wanted to hurt people, instead, to save some he jeopardized others and withered in his guilt pangs. It's a whole new perspective by the author into a very complex man who had more facets to his character than just a leader. He was just like us and yet he was much more than us.
A man who spend his entire life fighting for the inherent rights of his people and who took up a somewhat unconventional and largely misinterpreted cause of Pakistan, was likely to be misunderstood and bound to generate violent opposition and excite implacable hostility. Yet it’s remarkable that he received some of the greatest tributes in modern times, even from those who held a diametrically opposed viewpoint.
Sharat Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc, said on Jinnah’s death in 1948 -- "Mr Jinnah was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congress-man, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat, and greatest of all as a man of action. By Mr. Jinnah's passing away, the world has lost one of the greatest statesmen and Pakistan its life-giver, philosopher and guide".
Lord Pethick Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India, said, "Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan".
Jinnah wanted to pursue theatre while he was in London. He was an art connoisseur. He had a compulsive disorder of washing hands. Was he a control freak? Or was it that his creative repression burst out in the form of aggression. Or was it just his ego, which was terribly hurt in the congress meeting. Or was it the love and concern for the future of his community at the hands of other fundamentalist that he did what he did?
Was it by chance that birth of Dina and the birth of Pakistan was on the same date, i.e. between the night of 14th and 15th August? Was it just a mockery of destiny that both his children Dina and Pakistan, whom he loved so much, ignored his authority and deserted him? And in his last days they both haunted him.
About the Author
Dr Narendra Mohan is an eminent playwright, poet and critic. He is a trendsetter (Vichar Kavita) in Hindi poetry and his discourse on Lambi Kavita (long poems) proved path breaking. His works on Manto, Partition of India, Protest and Literature are not just literary and historical documentation, they have inspired the future generations to delve deep into the socio-cultural and His literary diary 'Saath- Saath mera saya' has been hailed as a landmark as it unfolds, in a unique way, the private-personal, social and political upheavals of the last forty years on a multi-dimensional scale. The serial 'Ujale ki aur' scripted by him and directed by Hrishikesh Mukherjee was widely appreciated. He has been honoured with top literary awards at the national and state levels.
His plays and poems have been translated into English and other Indian languages. He has participated in major national seminars and international poetry conventions. His poetry collections include 'Is Hadese mey', 'Samana hone par', 'Ek agnikand jagahey badalata', 'Hatheley par angarey ki tarah', 'Ek sulagti khamoshi', 'Ek khidki khuli hai abhi'.
Narendra Mohan's plays have been staged by eminent theatre groups and in national theatre festivals over the years. 'Mr Jinnah' is his latest play. He has been working on this play for the last three years. Extensive historical research and a sensitive probe into Jinnah's psyche has brought alive the multi-faceted personal-political drama of Jinnah's life in the play. The other plays written by him are 'Seengdhari', 'Kahe kabir suno bhai sadho', 'Kalandar', 'No man's land' and 'Abhang gatha'.
(In order of appearance)
Hanif Azad - Prageet Pandit
Hamid - Ajit Kumar Mahato / Sushil Gautam
Jinnah(main) - Susan Brar
other jinnah - Pushpraj Rawat, Rohan, Girish Pal, Amit Rana
Fatimah - Anupam Pachauri
Ratti - Amita Walia
Shauqat Ali - Vishal Gaurav
Jawarhar Lal - Vipin Arora
Gandhi - Md. Shamim
Dina - Amita Walia
proxy - Sapna Khatana
Crowd / Mob - Vishal,Prageet,Praveen,Sushil,Naresh, Rajesh, Ashutosh, Shailendra Bist, Ajit, Rakesh, Manu, Avdhesh,
Siddharth, Sulaiman,Rajesh Mishra, Sandeep, Sanjay, Mohit,
Shamim, Ajit, Vipin, Manisha, Sangeeta,Asish ,Sunil Rawat,Arun Khatana
Annie Besant - Manisha Gulati
Chittaranjan Das - Siddharth Dubey
Bahadur Yaar Jung - Naresh Kabir
Guards - Mohit Chhabra, Praveen, Shailendra, Rajesh Mishra
Riot victim boy -Rajesh Thapa
Jamshed -Akhilesh Kumar (Praveen)
Commissioner - Sushil Gautam
Dunham (nurse) - Sangeeta Das
Dr. Ilahi Baksh - Manu Tyagi
Property -Girish Pal, Ajit Kumar Mahato,Sapna Khatana
Set Execution - Ajit Kumar Mahato, Sushil Gautam, Asish Nijhawan
Production Controller -Sandeep, Kranti Pratap Singh
Brochure - Sangeeta Das
NOC - Sandeep Srivastava, Susan Brar
Help with Urdu - Dr. Sadiq, Abdul Khaliq Azad
Music - Dr. Sangeeta Gaur
Playwright - Dr. Narendra Mohan
Direction - Arvind Gaur
special thanks to Virendra Kumar Baranwal
AN ASMITA PRODUCTION
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR ...ARVIND GAUR
Arvind Gaur who heads the Delhi ,India based Theatre
group ASMITA is committed to innovative and socially
relevant theatre. Starting off as a journalist and
working for sometime for the electronic media, he set
up ASMITA and earned a reputation in theatre circle in
Delhi and abroad.
In the past 12 years, he has directed 48 major plays
which include Girish Karnad’s Tuglaq and Rakt Kalyan,
Dharamveer Bharti’s Andha Yug, Swadesh deepak’s Court
Martial, G P Deshpande’s Antim Divas, Albert Camus’
Caligula, Mahesh Dattani’s Final Solutions and Tara,
Eugene O’neill ‘s Desire Under the Elms, Dario Fo’s An
Accidental death of an Anarchist, Dr.Narenda Mohan's Kalandar,
Bertolt Brecht’s Good Woman of Setzuan and Caucasian chalk circle,
Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, John Octanasek’s
Romeo Juliet and the darkness, Neil Simon’s The Good
Vijay tendulakr’s Ghairam Kotwal, Munshi
Premchand’s Moteram ka Satyagrah, Ashok Lal’s Ek
Mamooli aadmi, Rajesh Kumar’s Me Gandhi Bolto ,
Doodnath Singh's Yama Gatha,
Women in Black ( written & acted by Bubbles Sabharwal)
,Untitled Solo by Lushin dubey, Uday Prakash’s Warren
Hastings ka Saand, Pinki Virani’s Bitter Chocolate,
(solo by lushin Dubey)
Bhishma Sahani's Madhavi & Manjula Padmanbhan' Hidden
Fires ( both solo by actress Rashi Bunny),Walking
Through the Rainbow ( joint production with PCVC, solo
by rashi bunny)
Arvind Gaur has been invited to perform in theatre
festivals organized by National School of Drama,
(Bharat Rang Mahotsava), Sangeet Natak Akademi,
Sahitya Kala Parisad,Nandikar and Vivachana Theatre
Festival, Old World Theatre Festival,National School
of Drama weekend theatre, Muktibodh Natya
Samaroh,World Social Forum and Nehru Centre Festival
Arvind Gaur has conducted many theatre workshops and
directed productions in different colleges & schools in Delhi.
Such as L.S.R., I.P., Gargi, Jawahar Lal Nehru
University, Hindu college,I.I.T.(Delhi), Aditi college,
School of Planning and Arhitecture (SPA) and Mother International school.
Workshops for children in schools and slums as well as Street
Theatre performances on different socio-political
issues organized and conducted by Arvind Gaur are many
He has also conducted theatre workshops for Actors and
Directors at Houston, USA and India Habitat centre,
New Delhi. He also performed various plays in
collobration with culture organizations like Theatre
World, British Council ( channai) ,Paridhi, bahroop,
Banjara Theatre group (IIT , Khargpur ),Rainbow
Cavaliers ,3M Dot Band (Jaipur) , Vivchana
(Jabalpur),Prithvi Theatre Festival ( platform theatre
IHC ,2004) and NGOs like Mobile Crèches, Action Aid ,
Haq, PCVC, Deepalaya , Heinrich Boll Foundation ,Asian
Social Forum and world social forum.
He also design lights for NAYA theatre under the
Direction of Shri Habib Tanvir.
Director Arvind Gaur has also collaborated with
various Theatre artists and Groups specially in
exploring a new language for Solo performances. His
latest ventures include ‘Women in Black’ by Bubbles
Sabharwal and “Untitled Solo” by Lushin Dubey in
collaboration with THEATRE WORLD. Not only have these
plays received great audience response from important
metropolis of India, “Women in black” was invited to
perform in Dubai and “Untitled Solo” was performed in
Chicago, Dallas, Washington DC, Boston, Rochester ,
San francisco, Ohio, Harvard university & Stratford in
USA and at the Edinburgh Theatre Festival last year .
"Bitter Chocolate " a new solo by Lushin was also
performed at Harvard (USA) and recently at Nehru
With Rashi Bunny, young actress trained in Theatre
design at University of Alabama at Birmingham and
Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA. Arvind Gaur Has
directed three solos .Bhishma sahani's" Madhavi ",
Manjula Padmanabhan's "Hidden fires " & Walking through the rainbow
( for PCVC, Channai)
Madhavi & Hidden fires has received rave reviews all
over and have been invited to perform for Mahindra's
OLD WORLD THEATRE FESTIVAL, Vivachana National Theatre
Festival Jabalpur, Muktibodh Natyaotsav raipur, 5th
national Theatre Festival Balaghat ,World Social forum
Mumbai and National School Of Drama (N.S.D.),
Satta Festival Jaipur,
Theatre Club J.N.U., PCVC chennai and Queen's Award Project
(UK) for Communal Harmony.
Bishma Sahani's MADHAVI ,Solo by Rashi Bunny &
directed by Arvind Gaur,received special award for
best play in experimentaion with tradition at
International Solo Theatre Festival Armenia.
Asmita (A sedulous Move for Innovative Theatre Activities) stands committed to aesthetically innovative and socially relevant theatre. It takes up contemporary issues to underline the contours of our time while providing the best of entertainment. It is today one of the leading HINDI theatre groups in the country. To date it has 48 productions to its credit.
All these plays have been directed by Asmita’s resident director Arvind Gaur. For Asmita theatre has a purpose of awakening the audience and creating a dialogue on prevailing social problems. It has carved a niche for itself in the Delhi theatre scene by staging plays of varied socio-political interest while not losing out on mass appeal.
" I'd rather be a forest than a street
Yes I would, if I could, I surely would
I'd rather feel the earth beneath my feet
Yes I would, if I only could, I surely would "