For 65 year-old Kader Khan, Local Train, one of the first plays he wrote during his college days, is close to his heart. After all, this was the production that was his stepping stone into films. At his duplex apartment in Santacruz, the writer-actor reminisces about his past. He narrates that after Local Train notched up top honours — best playwright, actor and director — at Jagriti, an all-India Dramatic Competition, the judges — author and filmmaker Rajinder Singh Bedi, his writer-director son Narendra Bedi and actor Kamini Kaushal — met him backstage and asked him why he wasn’t inclined to films.
Soon, Narendra Bedi asked him to write the dialogues of his movie Jawani Diwani, starring Jaya Bhaduri and Randhir Kapoor, which was slated to go on the floors after a month. The next day, Khan scooted off to Cross Maidan, sat under a tree and wrote the dialogues within three-and-a-half hours.
Over three decades after Local Train was first staged, Khan is now presenting it again later this month to mark the 50th year of his theatre company KKK (Kal Ke Kalakaar) International. While he has penned the script, the production will be directed by his elder son Sarfraz and enacted by younger son Shahnawaz on April 14 at Rangsharda in Bandra. The trio will also stage one of their other productions Hamaare Bhi Hai Meherbaan Kaise Kaise (HBHMKK), directed and enacted by Shahnawaz, on the same day.
Why did Khan revive these plays? “Nothing much has changed in the last three decades. The rich continue to be rich and the poor continue to be poor. Both plays are social satires.”
Thirty six year-old Sarfraz, who started off his acting career with theatre, explains that the cast of both plays feature newcomers who have been groomed by him. “The name of our theatre company means ‘the stars of tomorrow’. Abba always wanted that we should train fresh faces, as they are eager to learn. We have to train them in voice modulation, diction, body language, facial expressions etc.”
Shahnawaz, who started off as an assistant director with Vikram Bhatt and Satish Kaushik, is excited to essay the role that was earlier portrayed by his father and elder brother in HBHMKK. But it hasn’t been an easy journey for him.
“I wanted to become an actor but had a stammering problem. My father took me to Pune for eight days and ensured that I did riyaaz daily. That helped me overcome my problem.”
The father-son trio is also keen to stage Taash Ke Patte, one of their earlier productions, this year. However, Khan is quick to point out that it will depend on his schedule, considering he is busy preparing a syllabus for kindergarten and post-graduate students in Arabic.
“In India, it will be started under the aegis of my coaching classes. I have prepared the syllabus in consultation with Ulemas of Mumbai, Aligarh, Deoband and Lucknow. In fact, last year the Dubai government evinced an interest and invited me to present the syllabus to them.”
Why does he stay away from the arclights today? “Today, our films have achieved technical innovation and boast good performances and dialogues but somehow I feel the emphasis is too much on Hinglish. Urdu has been completely relegated, which is sad, because every actor should know it for
good expressions and voice modulation.”