A love story and a curtain call


The play ‘Gardish Mein Taare’ explored the relationship between Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt

Hindi cinema has many icons; but amongst these there are a select few who have influenced and have had great impact on the film industry. They have been trendsetters, experimenters and above all adventurous. Guru Dutt is one such icon. No conversation or discussion of the Hindi film industry is complete without a mention of his iconic works of art. But unfortunately, this talented artist died a lonely man. No accolades or successes could soothe the emotional turmoil that had overtaken his personal life.

Geeta Dutt, the singer with an ethereal voice was married to Guru Dutt. Though it is believed that she was at her best as Mrs Dutt, it is also true that Guru Dutt forbade her from singing for any other production but his own. And this took a toll on her singing. Critics say he did so to put to rest the talk that he had married her for financial security. Geeta was already a renowned singer and Guru a struggling director. Guru Dutt and Geeta were a perfect team as he knew how to use her velvety voice and the result of it were jewels like “Jaa jaa jaa bewafa”, “Babuji dheere chalna” and “Yeh lo main haari piya”.

It is unfortunate that two of the most talented artists of the Indian film industry met with tragic ends, for while they couldn’t live with each other, they couldn’t live apart too. The storyline and characters of the play ‘Gardish Mein Taare’ has been inspired by the couple’s unsuccessful love story. All the tiny yet significant nuances of their life are reflected in the play. Director and writer Saif Hyder Hasan has used the stage very well to present the tale. He has cleverly and effectively employed the art of soliloquy in the display emotions, be it unhappiness, disappointment or even plain sarcasm, by the two protagonists. There are also characters in the play who are only heard and not scene. With numerous flashbacks, the 80 minute play takes the audience through the roller coaster mode of the couple’s married life. And director Hasan couldn’t have chosen two better artists than Arif Zakaria and Sonali Kulkarni to play the part of the protagonists, Devdutt Bose and Bhavna.

Arif Zakaria and Sonali Kulkarni

My first memory of Arif Zakaria is in the role of a student leader in the television serial ‘Chunauti’. Though it was his first experience in front of the camera, he came across as an absolute natural. Since then he had portrayed some strong and some controversial characters on the screen. An actor with a wide repertoire of acting techniques and skills, Arif portrayed a gamut of emotions in the role of Devdutt Bose. Sonali Kulkarni is an actress par excellence. In 2002 she received the Special Jury Award (National Award) for her role in the short Marathi film ‘Chaitra’, and in 2006, she won an award at the Milan International Film Festival for her role in the Italian film ‘Fuoco Su di Me’. Sonali was excellent as Bhavna. The raw emotional turmoil the character went through, the highs and the lows were beautifully presented by this talented actress. While Arif portrayed the intensity and the softness of Devdutt, Sonali portrayed the strength and the vulnerability of Bhavna. Together they lit the stage up in more ways than one.

‘Gardish Mein Taare’ was brought to Sydney by SAI Creative Arts Network and was staged at Sir John Clancy Auditorium on 14 July. This is the second venture of the Manju-Ruchi team after ‘Kaifi Aur Main’. It is their endeavour to bring quality stage plays for the pleasure of those who still enjoy the reality of theatre in today’s digital age.


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