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Celebrate 100 years of Bhisham Sahni

Witness theatre legends like Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah pay a centenary tribute to the poignant and respected Hindi writer with a narrative performance of his short stories

In an examination hall, a professor sits idle for three hours, counting strange things like chairs, number of fans, ink pens and ball pens. Bored, he decides to quit his job until he meets a watchman who has been sitting idle outside an office for 30 years. Yet, he wants his son to follow his footsteps as it brings a fixed salary. Perplexed, the professor leaves the school premises. This is the plot of Oob, one of the satirical shorts penned by the famous writer, Bhisham Sahni. As a birth centenary tribute to Sahni (born on August 8, 1915), Kopal Theatre will present a staging of his short stories at National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), this weekend.

Naseeruddin Shah rehearsing for Sahni’s short story, Samadhi Bhai Ramsingh
Naseeruddin Shah rehearsing for Sahni’s short story, Samadhi Bhai Ramsingh

While the Hindi writer-playwright has written several novels including Tamas, considered to be one of the most powerful fictional accounts of the Partition of India, the tribute will focus on his short stories.

Ratna Pathak Shah and Seema Pahwa (above) at a rehearsal performance for Bhisham Sahni tribute
Ratna Pathak Shah and Seema Pahwa at a rehearsal performance for Bhisham Sahni tribute

“This is our attempt to make the audience aware about Bhisham Sahni’s wide range of writings, besides Tamas. So, instead of staging one of his novels as a play, I picked five short stories from his collection of more than 100 short stories,” informs Seema Bhargava Pahwa, who has designed and directed this two-hour long performance.

Heeba Shah
Heeba Shah

The five short stories – Oob, Sir Ka Sadka, Dholak, Yaadein and Samadhi Bhai Ramsingh – will be narrated by notable actors like Naseeruddin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, Yashpal Sharma, Manoj Pahwa and Heeba Shah, among others. “While Oob is about a teacher, Sir Ka Sadka talks about how a woman’s biggest enemy is the woman herself. Dholak throws light on how we are so influenced by Western cultures, which we’re moving away from our traditions. Each story highlights Sahni’s comment on society,” sums up Pahwa.

On: August 8 and 9, 7.30 pm; August 14, 7.30 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point (August 8 and 9); Swatantryaveer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak, Veer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Dadar (August 14) call sdfdfdckdk,cfdk

Films to catch

Apart from this tribute, watch two film screenings as part of NCPA’s Bhisham Sahni Festival:

>> Watch Govind Nihalani's Tamas set against the backdrop of the riots during the 1947 Partition, based on Sahni's novel by the same name.
On: August 8, 2 pm

>>
 Directed by Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Mohan Joshi Hazir Ho!is a comic satire on a judicial system where Sahni plays the lead role. The film also stars Naseeruddin Shah, Deepti Naval as well as Bhisham Sahni.
On: August 9, 4 pm
At: Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA (both the screenings)

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