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Heeba Shah makes her directorial debut

Today, watch Heeba Shah's Hindustani play based on a 12th century Persian poem that spreads the message of unity using the story of a journey by birds

Marking actor Heeba Shah's directorial debut, Motley's most recent production, Parindon Ki Mehfil, documents the journey of a bunch of birds to meet their mythical King, the Simorgh, a bird from Iranian mythology, popularly known as the phoenix.

Heeba Shah (left) during rehearsal; a still from the preview of the play as part of NCPA Centerstage. PIC/ONKAR DEVLEKAR
Heeba Shah (left) during rehearsal; a still from the preview of the play as part of NCPA Centerstage. Pic/Onkar Devleka

The story starts off with a group of birds enthusiastically planning a journey through seven valleys. The valleys represent different states of the human mind, according to Sufism. The birds talk about how each of them wants to be free. As the story progresses, the birds opt out one by one, offering an excuse while King Solomon's bird, considered the wisest among the lot, tries to convince the group to take the journey forward by telling them stories.

The poem, Persian poem Mantiq-ut-Tayr by Fariduddin Attar was adapted to a 1979 production by English playwright Peter Brook and French novelist Jean-Claude Carriere, from one of Persian poet Fariduddin Attar's 12th century poems. The popular poem has been represented in miniature paintings, cartoons and plays.

While Brook's version was specifically adapted for Western audiences, Shah focuses on the poem, and presents it in an Indian context. "I loved it when I had performed this play in the National School of Drama, so I kept the script with me and decided to do it at some point. I had heard the story of the Simorgh as a child and found it to be an amazing way of getting united. Unity for me is one of the most beautiful and magical things in the world," shares Shah, who has also co-scripted the play with her aunt, Phulmani Varma.

Initially the play was designed in English (after Shah translated the poem), but was eventually produced in Hindustani; it has a few Persian songs too. The cast includes Ratna Pathak Shah, Heeba Shah, Anubha Goel, Anmol Joshi, Chandan Bhisht, Chitransh Pawar, Dipika Lad, and Faraaz Salim. The actors, many of whom are not professional dancers undertook intensive training, as the play uses body movement to depict various scenes.

On: Today, 12 pm, 4 pm, 7 pm
At: Prithvi Theatre, 20 Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road, Juhu.
Call: 26149546

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