After the film and the book, Mahesh Bhatt’s biographical story, Hamari Adhuri Kahani, will now be presented on stage and is based on the book, All That Could Have Been. The book was inspired by the screenplay written for the film. It was staged in Delhi in August this year, followed by Lahore and later, in Kolkata in November.
Mahesh Bhatt at a music studio during a recording of the title track for the play, Hamari Adhuri Kahani
The story, co-authored by Kolkata-based Suhrita and Bhatt, is about the life of a young, single mother and her struggles. Her husband, who she loves intensely, is never around, which, Bhatt says, emerged from the experience of his stepmother who passed away a few months ago at the age of 96. He, however, clarifies that it is not an exact retelling of the events in his life, but “looks at the loneliness that surrounded her.”
Mahesh Bhatt with the cast of the play
From book to stage
Suhrita says she connected with the story as soon as Bhatt sent it to her. Till then, she was working on a novel about a woman in a feudal family of Bengal and financing herself by working as a hairdresser. “When I met Bhatt saab, I told him that I cut hair with my left hand and write with my right . But on a serious note, working as a hairdresser, I was exposed to a raw core of life which, perhaps, many other writers would not have experienced. I am thankful for that.”
A still from Hamari Adhuri Kahani
She decided to write the novel, (All That Could Have Been published by Speaking Tiger) by the time the script was ready and Bhatt readily granted the rights. “The novel took off while writing the last scene. I remember, it took me less than a month to complete it.”
The idea of the play was conceived, she says, when actor Imran Zahid suggested it during the launch of the book in Delhi, last year. Around February 2014, it was decided that Happy Ranajit would direct it. Bhatt says that the play, book and film are different from each other given the requirements of each medium. “There were quite a few plays that came with my name attached to them but most were just stories inspired from works I had created for cinema, I feel more attached to Hamari Adhuri Kahani, though it’s completely director Happy Ranajit’s vision,” he shares.
With actor Imran Zahid
Bhatt’s love for theatre began with the play Last Salute, a political play inspired by the story of the journalist who threw a shoe at George Bush, directed by Arvind Gaur. Hamaari Adhuri Kahaani stars Bhatt’s protégé Imran Zahid (who earlier played lead in Bhatt’s plays Arth, Daddy and The Last Salute) and actress Rachhatari Gupta.
The title track is composed by Pakistani Sufi band Raeth, and also features Bhatt’s voice. Zahid said that Raeth has composed a few songs for his upcoming film, Marksheet, and their previous track Bhula Do is also popular among the youth.
“When the title track was being composed by Jeet Ganguly (the tune and lyrics remain the same for the play), Bhatt Sahab was humming it like he usually does when the music of a film is being composed.
Pooja Bhatt recorded that clip, and uploaded it; video did very well. When we suggested that he sing it for the play, he refused and thought we were crazy. We told him if he didn’t record it for us, we would use the humming that Pooja had recorded. Finally, we hijacked him and took him to the studio. It sounds quite nice,” reveals Zahid.
National School of Drama graduate director, Ranajit, admits that while the story remains the same, the narratives differ. “The story states that the woman has a right to choose her own happiness. There are many characters in the novel; we have added a few more to the play. We went through rigorous auditions. While the film is more about the love story between the protagonists, the play focuses on the woman’s journey. The text was very real for me. Today, there are a lot more single mothers, we have adapted the story and set it in today’s times,” he explains.
In one scene, they have used the shadow of a wolf behind a man instead of a human shadow. “Bhatt Sahab said that he couldn’t have done that in cinema, theatre allows a lot of creative freedom. In a film, it is direct; in theatre, we can go beyond the obvious, beyond realism. One of my favourite scenes is the one where the protagonist talks about his mother. Even Bhatt Sahab said that the play now has a life of its own, without a connection with the film,” recalls Ranajit.
All That Should Have Been, Mahesh Bhatt & Suhrita, Speaking Tiger Books, Rs195. In bookstores and e-stores
On: December 26, 7.30 pm
At: Tata Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.