I have been interested in playwriting and theatre since I was 10 years old. I used to gather my friends and put on plays for our families and charged them money – a few paisas (pennies), as I recall. The whole process was very exciting: finding the script, collecting the actors, getting together to rehearse, then putting it on, having two children hold a bed sheet which served as curtain and stage. My first role was as the king of Piff Piff Land, and my line was, “I’m the king of Piff Piff Land. Where can that daughter of mine be? She must be home in time for tea.” There was a prince, too, called Prince Charming, and his lines were: “I’m Prince Charming and the ladies call me fair, and they all fall for my raven black hair.” And that’s all I remember of the plot and characters.
My childish and childlike interest bloomed again during my college days when in addition to acting as Professor Higgins in My Fair Lady, I wrote short plays — skits, mostly — for college functions. From that I graduated to full-fledged plays in 1974, most of which were published in the now defunct New Delhi based theatre journal, ENACT.
Though I got two awards for playwriting in 1979 – The Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting in English – I was unable, for one reason or another, to attend the performances of my two plays performed in Chandigarh and New Delhi in 1982 and 1984 (?). Kaamiya, produced in 2014 in Mumbai, was the first time I watched one of my plays being performed. Though I was fearful I would only have a few people in the audience, I was utterly delighted and surprised to see the hall filling up to the brim! After this I sat back in satisfaction and enjoyed watching my play as if it was someone else’s. I had written it 40 years ago, and in that sense, it was new to me. I also was very pleased to see from the comments after the play that it was still relevant to women, and even men, today.
KAAMIYA, produced by ANK, Mumbai, translated and directed by Padamshree Ram Gopal Bajaj, ex-director of the National School of Drama, premiered at the NCPA, Mumbai, on May 4, 2014.
HAMLET’S FATHER: received a staged reading at the Marin Shakespeare Festival, Marin, USA, in 2002, directed by Rob Clare.
KEPLER DREAMS: received a staged reading at The Gas Lamp Quarter Theatre in San Diego, USA, in 1990, directed by Mark Hofflund.
CLYTEMNESTRA, produced in a Panjabi translation by Surjit Patar under the title Heth Vagai Dariaa, by The Company, directed by Padamshree Neelam Mann Singh Chowdhry premiered in Chandigarh in 1980.
THE CURLEW’S CRY
THE CURLEW’S CRY, a bi-lingual play in Hindi and English was produced by Yatrik, New Delhi, in 1982.
ZANANA was done as a student production, directed by Tripurari Sharma, at the National School of Drama in 1980. The play won the first prize in the one act category in Sultan Padamsee Playwriting in English Award in 1977.