Imran Khan to stage plays of Manto, Munshi Prem Chand in Kashmir

“Kashmir had glorious theatre movement, will help in reviving it”
File Photo
File Photo

After 25 years in film and television, when actor Imran Khan found his love for theatre. He was so impressed that he now wants every actor to regularly engage in this brilliant form of medium. Not only does he want every actor to take part in plays, but he wants them to be taken to every state, as it has the power to be a transformative tool in a better way.

 "Movies or TV, it'sthe medium of a director. Here actors just need to do what director says buttheatre is the medium of actors. They have to play before the live audience anddisplay their talent. There is no scope of any mistake," said Imran Khan who ison an acting spree to take part in various classic plays. "There is stagnationin TV and films, but theatre is a huge relief."

Imran, whose earlier film Sargoshiyan was set in Kashmir,loves the place and is always on a lookout to do more in the field of art here."Kashmir is full of talent and one is fascinated to know that the region hadone of the glorious periods of theatre movement. People still remember thosedays when plays would attract huge gatherings in Srinagar," said Imran. "It wasa pure art form loved by all."

In a hope to reignite the passion of theatre in Kashmir,Imran is planning to bring famous Urdu plays to Kashmir. "In summer we areplanning to bring theatre groups to Kashmir and even engage local groups insome of the most popular and classic plays," said Imran. "Currently I amworking in plays based on the stories of Munshi Prem Chand, Saadat HassanManto, Asmat Chugtai, Rabindranath Tagore and other such writers. It iscreatively satisfying for both actors and the audience. And we will bring thesame to Kashmir." 

Imran and his team plans to stage the plays either at the Tagore Hall or SKICC. The plays have been written long time ago but they are still relevant today, attesting the genius of those writers. "One of the plays in which I act is Ilzam written by Munshi Premchand around 100 years ago.

I play the role of an educated man in Lucknow who is complex and very suspicious by nature. He keeps unnecessarily doubting his beautiful innocent wife.

When he is at work he keep thinking that the local men must be eyeing her when she is by the window or going for shopping. This leads to arguments and also at times to physical abuse and highlights his violent behaviour. This continues, till the wife finally leaves her home.

Both are left alone and ultimately their lives are ruined. The story sends a message how things go wrong in a marriage where there is no trust, much relevant to present times too," explained Imran.

To give it an authentic look, the play has a typical settingof Lucknow, complete with its language and cultural nuances. Even the music inbackdrop takes you to those times.

Now Imran's aim is to do good theatre besides continuingwith TV serials which according to the actor helps in running his home. "Trustme 90 percent of TV actors and technicians do the serials as TV pays well,"said Imran, who's a weekend show on star plus called Divya Dristi.

Imran's inspiration for theatre came from an unlikely place. "One day I just happened to see an  interview of Nasirudin Shah and late Om puri on YouTube, where they were discussing the craft of acting in theatre and films.

This really inspired me as I feel they are the real trained actors in Bollywood. They just didn't start acting in Bollywood. They did NSD for three years they went to Pune and studied acting at FTII. We actors need to be trained too as not all TV actors are trained. So I thought it's never too late in life to learn and get trained in acting," said Imran.

 "It was only theatrewhich I was missing in my career. Here also I am choosy and I don't want to doany vulgar theatre and stick to an authentic and meaningful plays," said Imran.

Imran had the privilege of starting his career at the dawn of satellite channels in India. He played lead roles in Tara, Dastaan, Parampara, Chandni, Astitva, Ashirvaad etc.

Till date he has acted in around 55 TV shows. In Bollywood, he made his debut in 1991 with Rishi Kapoor in the film 'Inteha Pyar Ki', followed by films like Big Brother, Heroine, Suryavansham, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, Hawa, Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and many more.

The actor has been trying to be at the forefront ofproducing meaningful cinema too. His latest film Main Bhi tackles theunconventional subject of male child exploitation.

"It is the subject which is least talked about let alone made into a film. A victim woman at some part of her life narrates the story of her suffering with her mother, fiends, sister or spouse, but victim men hardly talk about it.

Although the abuse shatter them inside, but given the perceived image of masculinity and patriarchal society, they don't talk about it," said Imran in an earlier interview with GK. "We wanted to show what happens to such men in their life. How these hidden suffering destroy them and sometimes people around them"

The producer actor earlier wanted to shoot the movie in Kashmir. He had decided to film in Jammu but at the last stage the actor changed his mind. "There were many reasons but the main reason was that I didn't want to portray Kashmir in some bad light.

I love Kashmir and have been taking efforts to bring out best stories from here. But this story would not have suited Kashmir," said Imran while accepting that such incidents have definitely happened in Kashmir. "The abuse of male child in jails or even homes happens everywhere. Kashmir is no exception to it. Some cases have come to fore but the majority of cases remain hidden."

The film titled Main Bhi (me too) tries to take the movement of same name a one step further. The movie revolves around a plot in which a jailer is mysteriously killed.

Upon investigation the criminal turns out to be some stranger, who initially refuses to divulge the motive of their murder. The story then flashbacks into past wherein it is revealed that the murderers were free spirited young children who were once sent to a remand home after conviction into some petty crime.

In the jail they are sexually abused by the same jailer, many years ago. It turns out that the jailer was the notorious sex offender who used to abuse the male children and young teens in his custody.

Imran's first visit to Kashmir was way back in 1983, when not only he enjoyed holiday with his family but watched Nikah movie in Neelam cinema.

However the real love with the land emerged when he had a chance to do a travel show TravelXP in which he drove to Kashmir valley, Kargil, Drass and Leh. He was mesmerised with the unexplored beauty of Kashmir and decided the Sargoshiyan, partly based on his travels through Kashmir.

The 2017 movie Sargoshiyan was drama film completely shot in Kashmir and explored the never seen before breath taking places. After the appreciation, he wants to continue with his bond with Kashmir with a plan for another such project set in Kashmir. "Yes I am on a lookout for another movie set in Kashmir.

Everything is in a preliminary stage and it will announced in a due course of time. Let me assure that the movie will be a feel good and showcase the never failing spirit of Kashmiris," said Imran. "Leaving politics and associated things apart, there are so many stories in Kashmir which world needs to know and I want to take up those subjects. Just look at the footballers, especially dream run of Real Kashmir Football Club. They all have a story worth telling."

Imran has also been actively supporting the tourism sectorin Kashmir. Recently together with actor Shahbaz Khan they participated in theJK Tourism promotion show in Mumbai wherein they highlighted they beauty ofKashmir and urged people to visit the place.

The actor feels that art has been a great companion ofKashmiris in past and it should be restored to its original place. "Kashmir issuch a beautiful place with equally talented people. I want to help in whateverway I can. I will be happy to work with people here and also help them train inthe theatre and cinema," said Imran.

Haroon Mirani

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