Book readings could soon become passe if author Sathya Saran has her way. Hoping to make an instant connect with audiences, the veteran journalist is taking her biography of Bollywood legend Guru Dutt to the masses by enacting the book with a cast of six characters across India.
The biography, "10 Years With Guru Dutt: Abrar Alvi's Journey", is a first person narrative of screen writer, filmmaker and actor Abrar Alvi, who recounted his association with Guru Dutt to Saran in the book. Guru Dutt and his close friend Alvi partnered to make several Bollywood classics like "Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam", "Kaagaz Ke Phool" and "Pyaasa" starring Dutt in stellar roles.
Alvi passed away in 2009.
Saran, the former editor of Femina magazine and a columnist, calls her one-and-a-half-hour Guru Dutt book drama an interactive promotion, which is a "360 degrees rendition of the book".
"We don't read the book any more. We narrate the story on stage. I sit on one side of the stage and an actor plays Abrar Alvi. He narrates his years with Guru Dutt just as Abrar told me in my book. The spotlights are on both of us," Saran told IANS in an interview.
Explaining the complex stage mechanism of her "drama", Saran says the "action swings from stage to a screen mounted in the background where scenes from the movies which Abrar Alvi talks about in the book are projected".
"The action begins on the stage where actors play Guru Dutt and his leading ladies Waheeda Rahman and Meena Kumari. They lip sync the opening dialogues and then the action merges with the movie on the screen. It then moves back again to the narrators seated on either end of the stage as the narrative progresses," Saran said.
Production company Just Imagine helped her stage her book play.
For example, when Abrar recalls the making of the classic, "Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam", the stage opens with Meena Kumari as the sad 'chhoti bahu' (the young wife of a rich Bengali landlord) sprawled in a drunken haze on the stage and Bhoothnath, the domestic help from the village crouching at her feet.
"Bhootnath introduces himself to 'chhoti bahu' and the scene moves back to the screen. We use a bench for a bed on the stage. I use experimental props and innovative stage décor. I improvise as well. When I take the production to Kolkata, I will introduce Johnny Walker on stage picturising the famous 'tel malish' song sequence from the
movie 'Mr & Mrs 55'," Saran said.