Shabana-Javed's sellout shows in US
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Actress Shabana Azmi and her husband Javed Akhtar had a string of crazy experiences in the US when they went there to stage their play "Kaifi Aur Main".
The couple, which conducted 14 shows in different cities last month, first got delayed at the St. Louis airport due to an ice storm and when they reached Washington, they were asked to condense the play that is based on Shabana's parents' lives.
Recalls Shabana: "Javed and I had taken on a lot of teaching engagements along with our play 'Kaifi Aur Main' where we enact scenes from my parents' life. After our speech in St. Louis, we were to leave for Washington DC. But we were stranded in St. Louis because of an ice storm.
"Finally, we reached Washington at 12.30 a.m. for the 8 p.m. show. And the audience was still waiting. Can you imagine? Our singer Jasvinder Singh continued singing until we reached."
What followed was even crazier.
"We had the theatre for only an hour. We had to compress and edit a two-hour play to one hour. Javed was editing on stage and I was picking up the cues. Our director Ramesh Talwar was going crazy behind the stage wondering how Javed did it. I must say Javed is a master. He could edit the play on the spot because he's a writer. At the end of it...standing ovation! Very gratifying," Shabana told IANS.
All the 14 shows of their play were sold out in the US. "We got a standing ovation everywhere. I must say Javed has acted better than any professional actor. There's a lot of poetry in the play. Javed is able to recite those lines with a conviction that no one else can.
"Audiences were very surprised by his voice projection and his sense of humour. Not too many people know my father was a very humorous man. Javed could get into the skin of my father's lines.
"I'm blessed to have a husband who has written a play on my parents' life. The play has got the best of abba's lyrics, poetry, politics and romance with my mother."
Shabana feels "Kaifi Aur Main" will go as far as her earlier play "Tumhari Amrita".
"It's a very personal play for me. There're bits that churn my guts. But it's also about remembering my father with a lot of affection. Hence healing and cathartic. I must say the poem 'Bahut ajeeb aadmi tha' that Javed wrote on my father was very healing for our entire family.
"My brother Baba said we must remember our father with joy. At the time when it happened, it was naturally very traumatic for me. But today I know what my brother means. We remember him with joy. The play celebrates him. It's wonderful that my mother's book 'Yaad Ki Rehguzar', on which this play is based, is being picked up by nine universities in the US."