Theater lovers applauded every scene and dialogue by NSD & LAMDA (London) graduate Ashwath Bhatt, during a one man Hindustani play, “Ek Mulaqat Manto Se” on articles written by Saadat Hasan Manto, about himself and the minute social changes that took place, during India’s Partition in 1947.
The play was enacted at Alliance Francaise, Delhi, on 12th & 13th December 2015 to a full house. People even enjoyed the play standing on the side steps.
‘Ek Mulaqat Manto Se’ reflects the life and times of the great storywriter, Saadat Hasan Manto, who was deeply traumatised by the partition of the Indian sub-continent. The performance also tries to showcase Manto’s thinking on why he chose to write stories and his treatment of the tragedy of partition of India.
An attempt has been made to perform Manto’s articles as he wrote them and to take his ideas to the widest possible audience. If Manto, who hated didacticism, were asked if he had a message for the people of the sub-continent, he would surely say, ‘Yes make peace’.
The texts used in the performance are ‘Manto, Main Afsana Kyun Kar Likhta hoon, Khol do, Kal Sawere Jo Meri Ankh Khuli and Deewaroon Pe Likhna. The best dialogue I guess of the entire play was, “Bade log gusalkhane mein hi sochne ka kaam karte hain, aur main to wahan nahi sochta – islie yeh prove hota hai ki main Mahan nahin hoo….”(meaning , every big man does his thinking when he is in the washroom, but I can’t be a big man as I don’t think in washrooms).
Ghazal’s of Begum Akhtar have been used at few places in the performance to create the ambience of the period and highlight the pathos of Manto’s life. A couplet by ‘Daag Dehlavi’ is the final statement of the performance.
The duration of the play is one hour 15 minutes without interval. The play is in Hindustani (Urdu). The play has been performed to much acclaim in England, France, Germany, Pakistan and India.
Comments of some celebrities:
‘The undisputed master of the modern Indian short story’ – Salman Rushdie.
‘There is still no literary rival to Manto… (and) as communalism, religious intolerance and enmity between India and Pakistan continue to grow, his stories are still highly relevant’- Independent
About Ashwath Bhatt-
Ashwath Bhatt, after his graduation from National School of Drama- New Delhi, did his Post Graduation in classical acting and Acting instruction fromLAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) London. He was the first recipient of prestigious Inlaks foundation scholarship for Theatre/Acting. He is a visiting faculty to various prestigious institutions in India & abroad. He has worked with reputed theatre companies like Oxfordshire theatre Company- Oxford, GYLPT- Greenwich, London, Flying Fish Theatre Company- Berlin etc. He has done plays for BBC worldwide and has been part of collaboration with National Theatre, Mannheim/Germany etc. He has acted under the direction of various Indian and Foreign theatre luminaries and conducted workshops on various aspects of acting in England, Germany, France, Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan and India. He is on the selection panel of LAMDA in India as well ‘Inlaks Theatre Awards’ which is his brainchild.
Apart from instruction, he regularly performs his one man show ‘Ek Mulaqat Manto Se’ (A rendezvous with Manto) based on life and times of Sadat Hasan Manto. He is widely known forhis work on ‘Red Nose Clowning’ theatre form in India. In 2007, he established non-profit trust – Theatre Garage Project. The philosophy behind his work is ‘Finding something in nothing’.
He recently directed ‘Andha Yug’ and ‘Comrade’ with BNA, Lucknow to much acclaim. He has also worked with acclaimed film makers like Mira Nair (The Reluctant Fundamentalist), Vishal Bhardwaj (Haider), Kabir Khan (Phantom), Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Rahul Dholakia (Lamhaa), Ajita Suchitraveera (Ballad of Rustom), Ashiq Abu (Gangster) etc. His next release is ‘Tigers’ with Oscar winning director Danis Tanovic and Indo-British film ‘Feast of Varanasi’.