Five years ago, when Pune-based theatre artiste Yogini Pophale had read these lines written by Meena Kumari, she became curious to read other works penned by the late actor. She not only read every single book written on her and by her, but also managed to meet people who threw light on Meena Kumari as a poet. What followed was a discovery that Pophale was determined to share with others. For four years, Pophale researched and gathered every possible information about the actor. Finally, she is ready with Mehajabeen – Safar Meena Kumari Ka, an Urdu-Hindi drama that represents Meena Kumari’s personal and professional journey with a special emphasis on her interest in writing. The drama also includes some of the immortal songs from her films and narratives, accompanied with dances. However, the highlight is some rare ghazals and poems by Meena Kumari that will be recited in her own voice.
“Originally named Mehajabeen, Meena Kumari was always an enigma, a mysterious personality. That she was a great actor is something everybody knows but when it comes to her personal life, people mostly talk about her drinking habit. Not many people know that she was immensely interested in writing poetry, ghazals and nazms,” says Pophale. She also met Aurangabad-based Urdu poet Bashar Nawaz, who has written lyrics for Hindi films such as Bazaar, Lori, Jane Wafa, Tere Shahar Mein and Shanker Khan, and with whom Meena Kumari shared a great association owing to their common interest in writing.
The drama revolves around four characters, incidentally the people who played a significant role in Meena Kumari’s life — Kamal Amrohi (her husband), Khursheed Aapa (her sister), Baby Meena Kumari and Taazdaar (Amrohi’s son from his first wife). Interestingly, no one is playing the late actor in the drama. “I don’t think anyone could do justice to her role. However, her soul will be present throughout the play. And how will that be done is a suspense that only the show will reveal,” says Pophale, adding that the theme, sets, drapery and costumes have been designed and customised to take the audience to the era of Meena Kumari.
The two-hour play will be presented in two acts. While first act is in black and white, the second half is in colour. “The audience will also get a glimpse in her routine life — how she was as a wife, her behaviour with children and so on,” says the director, adding that the second half of the drama is primarily about the making of Pakeezah and how passionate Meena Kumari and Amrohi were about the film. Some of the songs that will be included in an audio-visual format are Thade Rahiyo (Pakeezah), Radha Na Bole (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi), Chanda Sa Hoga Who (Chandan Ka Palna) and Inhi Logon Ne (Pakeezah).
Mehajabeen – Safar Meena Kumari Ka is the debut production of Pratibha Entertainment, with concept and direction by Pophale and scriptwriting by Mugdha Wagh. The dance sequences in the show will be presented by Bhargavi Chirmule, choreographed by Amruta Gogate. The characters in the play are essayed by Prateek Kelkar, Tanvi Pimpalkhare, Amruta Satbhai and NSD graduate and Hindi theatre personality Abhay Kulkarni.
Mehajabeen – Safar Meena
Kumari Ka will be staged on
January 11 at Yashwantrao
Natya Gruha, 9.30 pm