There couldn’t be a better tribute to Premchand – one of the most loved Hindi-Urdu writers of modern India, on his 132nd birth anniversary today. Dramatech – an amateur theatre group of IIT alumni, is staging three of his finest stories – Do Bailon Ki Katha, Shatranj Ke Khiladi and Nimantran at the Shri Ram Centre come August 4-5.
Being children’s stories primarily, and Dramatech having purposefully included many child actors, these plays promise to be a treat for kids and their families, especially. Dramatech was formed in 1984 by three alumni of IIT Delhi.
Today, it includes students of various colleges besides IIT (D), corporate professionals (majorly IIT graduates), entrepreneurs, teachers and homemakers with a passion for theatre.
They have staged up to 35 productions in the last 28 years, including Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession; Govind Deshpande’s Uddhvast Dharamshala and are now Premchand’s classics.
Director Ravi Raj Sagar, a 1978 IIT (D) graduate and a marketing professional now, says, “We were looking for stories to make new plays on, especially for children; and then we realised that Munshiji (Premchand) has a whole collection of childrens’ stories.
They teach children the value of honesty, kindness and patriotism, are heart-warming, funny and drawn from our own land. Not only do the kids get to learn something new, but the oldies are able to relive the joy of the works they read long ago. So we decided on Do Bailon Ki Katha, Shatranj… and Nimantran.
“We consciously avoided Premchand’s Idgah and Bade Bhai Sahab as they have already been staged several times by different groups but the three we have chosen are being dramatised for the first time.
Do Bailon… is the story of two oxen, Heera and Moti and is included in many school textbooks; Shatranj… is about Mirza Sajjad Ali and Mir Roshan Ali who lose their kingdom busy playing chess (later made into a film by Satyajit Ray) and Nimantran is the finest comedy by Munshiji.However, they have never been adapted into plays before.”
The group is particular about not changing the original storyline and has woven the script around the situations and humour as described by Premchand.
However, they have added a few songs - Dookh bhare din beete re bhaiya in Do Bailon…, thumri Lakhon ke bol sahe in Shatranj etc. to make the evening more enjoyable. Also, they have cast many children drawn from schools like DPS, MIS etc. to bring a charming liveliness and freshness to the productions.
Sagar adds, “We are hopeful that the friendship of Heera and Moti, the obliviousness of the nawabs in Shatranj and the greediness of the pandit and his kids in Nimantran will enthrall children no end. I guess that will also be the best possible thanksgiving to Munshi Premchand.”