Celebrating 20 years of Feroz Abbas Khan’s classic production -Tumhari Amrita

Director: Feroz Abbas Khan ; Writer: Javed Siddiqi ;Cast: Shabana Azmi, Farooque Shaikh

An ensuing tale of love, sensitivity and warmth Tumhari Amrita is a story read out through reams of love letters in Urdu.

It has been 20 years since this Feroz Abbas Khan production had made its impressive debut at Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai. But despite many re-runs this journey is still poignantly moving and entertaining. Director FerozKhan says, “Initially we had planned only 4 performances and then close down. We thought that the audience will not accept this experiment beyond Prithvi Theatre but we were surprised by the response all over the world.”

Chronicling the lifelong interaction between friends, and later lovers this play is a distinct reminder of love & intimacy. The play has just two characters, who sit at their writing desks and read out directly from their scripts.  It is the sheer brilliance of the performers that there is no monotony in the entire experience of 1 hour 30 minutes. Instead, the hushed auditoriums and applauses converting into a standing ovation in the end is a norm.

Inspired by AR Gurney’s American play ‘Love Letters’, Tumhari Amrita  was first staged in 1992. Shabana Azmi who plays Amrita, and Farooque Shaikh, who plays Zulfi are still as enigmatic as back then. The play is a celebration of our composite culture, and Javed Siddiqui has penned it down with brilliance.

Only words can express such emotions the best. So devoid of any action, this play is a masterpiece. The innocent mirth, the depth of their relation can only be felt through letters. A journey in time and space, the beauty lies in the sensitive narration. Amidst the simplest production, lights and sounds, it is the actors who take the audience from childhood to adulthood. The letters span over 35 years talking about every pain and joy that goes in the hearts of the protagonists.  Though all the letters have a serious undertone but there are moments to keep the audience smiling. Shabana Azmi portrays Amrita Nigam, the painter while Farooque Shaikh is her lover. There are many wow moments during the play but one worth mentioning is how the worldly-wise Zulfi says nothing each time Amrita asks “Mujhse shaadi karoge Zulfi”? The description of the sketches made by Amrita brings out the wild streak in her character and focuses on lighter aspects of their lives.

Tumhari Amrita challenges all traditional forms of drama to create a fresh, new way of looking at a play. A tale of universal tragedy, torn apart by destiny its about two articulate individuals who are engaged in constantly sifting priorities. Though this was written many years ago, the underlying theme is an urban phenomenon.A funny, poignant, melancholic chronicle of two people who not come together and could not stay apart.

“He’s taken the stage by storm. English, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu.. language holds no bars. But, that is essential Feroz Khan: driven, smitten and raring to go”. This is how The Metropolis defines the man. Feroz Abbas Khan is recognized as much for exploring new forms, as for bringing Hindi theatre, mainstream recognition. His production of Peter Shaffer’s epic play ‘The Royal Hunt of The Sun’ and the recent contemporary Indian adaptation of Arthur Miller’s classic ‘Death of Salesman’ are considered landmark events in Indian Theatre. With ‘Gandhi My Father’ he made his foray into the arena of motion picture.

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