He’s a Padma Shri and Filmfare Award winner. But outside of the theatre circle, very few will be familiar with the name of Marathi playwright Vasant Kanetkar. Several of Kanetkar’s plays, though written years ago, still find social relevance and hence have many takers. One such play is Prema Tujha Ranga Kasa, which in its 50th year, is being adapted in Hindi by Yatri Theatre group, under the title, Yeh Jo Dil Hai Na.
“I have been a great fan of Kanetkar and the different forms of humour that he uses in his plays. We have earlier adapted his works such as Suryachi Pille, Gosht Janmantar Chi, Choo Mantar and Premacha Gav Jaave as Chinta Chod Chintamani. I wanted to adapt Prema Tujha Ranga Kasa and connected with Kanetkar’s daughter-in-law but someone else owned the play’s rights till 2012. Finally, after waiting for almost a year and a half, in March this year, I was able to start work on the play,” says Om Katare, the director who is also acting in it. Katare tells us that the play was adapted in Hindi several years back, but wasn’t a success then.
Immediately, Katare roped in scriptwriter Mir Muneer, to adapt the script in Hindi. Muneer, who has worked with Yatri on several other plays was thrilled: “I was in school when the play was released back then and though my mother tongue is Urdu, our family went to watch the play and it stayed with me through all these years. When I finally got to work on the play I was very happy. I told Om that I’d love to work on it.” Since the play was written 50 years back, Muneer had to make a few changes in references the characters make in the play, “But the plot remains the same. I would dare not change it, or the play would lose its soul.”
However, Katare wasn’t sure about the audience’s reactions to the play, but on the first reading of the play in July, everyone enjoyed it, and the cast had the task of bringing out the play on stage within a month. “Already, the play has a following, and currently, it’s running in Marathi as well. So, I needed that sort of commitment from the actors. I specially mentioned that if you can put off your mobile, you are welcome,” says Katare.
The play, as the name suggests, is about love and how it breaks all boundaries, especially when faced with opposition from parents. If one is wondering whether the rules of love have changed through the years, and whether the play might be outdated, Katare clarifies the mood, “There is never an end to love stories in our country. Be it films or theatre, though its appearance may change, love as a subject will never lose its charm. And just like love, objections to it won’t ever stop. You don’t just say “I love you” and the parents say, “Go beta, get married.” Oppositions are common and people in the audience connect with it. Some might find themselves relating to the father’s character, while others may relate to that of the son-in-law.”
The play stars Mukesh Yadav, Pratik Pendharkar, Ashok Sharma, Astha Arora/ Shruti Kamble, Paromita Chatterjee and Priyanka Sinha. In the play, a professor’s daughter falls in love with a man whose father runs a coal depot and Kanetkar with his touch of humour shows how human relationships never change. The mother who got married against her parents’ wishes 25 years back now opposes her daughter’s choice of a groom. The play, which premiered on August 9, has been running to packed houses. “When the pitch is good, we are bound to hit fours and sixes. Such is the effect of Kanetkar’s play,” justifies Katare, who now aims to adapt another Kanetkar’s classic, Lekure Udand Jhaali.