By Rekha Rajvanshi
It’s very rare that one gets a peep into the lives of great poets, actors and lyricists and this opportunity was provided by Sai Creative Arts Network in Sydney. On March 8th 2018, Sydney siders enjoyed watching ‘Kaifi Aur Main’ – a romantic saga of renowned Urdu poet and lyricist Kaifi Azmi and his beloved Shaukat Azmi at the Sir John Clancy Auditorium Australia.
Shaukat’s interaction with Kaifi from her book ‘Yaad Ki Rehguzaar’ was presented theatrically by Javed Akhtar and directed by Ramesh Talwar. Bollywood actress and Kaifi’s daughter Shabana Azmi as Shaukat and Javed as Kaifi recreated Kaifi’s life story interwoven with Kaifi’s songs in Jaswinder Singh’s melodious voice.
The stage opened to a pre independence period of India with black & white old sketch of Kaifi and Shaukat in the middle wall and two simple tables and chairs on one side transporting us back in time. On the other side was the young ghazal maestro Jaswinder Singh, and his live orchestra team, who periodically gave a musical touch to the show.
The show depicted everything about Kaifi and Shaukat’s 55-year-old romance. Shabana, in beautiful pink saree and Javed dressed in black and white, walked to the stage and took their seats. The play started with the song ‘Meri Aawaz Suno’ from Naunihal written by Kaifi. Shaukat unfolded Kaifi’s life in her writings, which was brilliantly read by Shabana and Javed through dialogue delivery. The romantic saga started from the time when Shaukat met Kaifi as a young girl. Their romance grew with the time until their last day together. Shaukat broke her engagement, left everything for Kaifi and came to Mumbai with her father. She convinced her father to choose Kaifi as her life partner and accepted Kaifi’s communist ideology, values and beliefs. Kaifi, being a progressive writer, gave Shaukat full opportunity to work in radio and theatre, as he writings say ‘Jannat ek aur hai jo mard ke pahloo me nahi, Uth meri jaan mere saath hi chalna hai Tujhe.’
There were moments of sadness when Kaifi was labelled as ‘unlucky’ in his film career and when he was struck with Paralysis and lost sensation in his one hand. In spite of all these setbacks, Kaifi never gave up. He went back to his hometown Mijwan to serve and set up an NGO for girls. He lived there until his death. Shabana revealed brilliantly her mother’s innermost feelings and thoughts about Kaifi, whereas Javed Akhtar kept the audience entertained with his witty rendition of Kaifi. Their story went through a roller coaster of emotions – friendship, romance, love, humour and grief amidst Kaifi’s initial struggling days and challenging circumstances.
Shabana Azmi, with tears in her eyes ended the performance when Kaifi died. Javed Akhtar came forward and recited his poem, “Ajeeb admi tha woh, mohabbaton ka geet tha, baghawaton ka raag tha… woh bandishon se kehta tha, main tumko tod sakta hun, sahoolaton se kehta tha, main tumko chhod sakta hun… hawaon se kehta tha main tumko mod sakta hoon… woh zindagi ko kehta tha main tumhe sajaoonga… ajeeb admi tha woh.”
Audience were enthralled not only by Kaifi’s romantic story and poems, but also his super hit movie songs like ‘Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho’ (Hanste Zakhm), ‘Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo’ (Haqeeqat), ‘Waqt Ne Kiya Kya Haseen Sitam’ (Kaagaz Ke Phool) and ‘Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho’ (Arth) in the melodious voice of the popular ghazal singer Jaswinder Singh. Theatre, poetry, songs woven together made the show interesting and memorable experience.
Manju Mittal and Ruchi Bansal of Sai Creative Arts Network, brought this quality production to Sydney and New Zealand. ‘Kaifi Aur Main’ was a treat to Sydney’s art, theatre and poetry lovers!