Sad, unfortunate lives of the talented Dutts told through ‘Gardish Mein Taare’ play

By Neena Badhwar

The play ‘Gardish Mein Taare’ staged on July 14 at the John Clancy auditorium, UNSW, Sydney, indeed left an impression, a deep impression.

On the way back home, there was nothing else to talk about except that tragic tale of the Dutt family on which the play is based.

The story had not ended with just the death of the star-couple who was one of the the most talented in the Indian film industry at the time – Guru Dutt and Geeta Dutt. But it continued on to the next generation that took toll on two of their sons – Arun and Tarun. Such was the ‘Gardish’ in their unmatched stars that it decayed into alcoholism and extra marital affairs, ending into the only certain end – death of almost the whole family (barring one daughter, Nina, who is still alive).

The play summed the theme well, but, in review, left some gaps that could have been filled at least on the background screen. The tragic songs of Guru Dutt films were well suited for the task but unfortunately were not fully utilised to complement the storyline.

Gardish Mein Tare, directed by Saif Hyder Hassan, captured the fifties’ era on the screen with the audience enthralled by the black and white films of the time. The stage was set in a blue hue, in tune with the morose mood of the story told through a police officer questioning Geeta Dutt’s cast in the play, Bhavna Dutt, acted by famous Marathi actor Sonali Kulkarni. Actor Arif Zakaria played the complex character of Guru Dutt, sombre but possessive,   loving yet abusive.

Sonali Kulkarni’s voice while humming famous Geeta Dutt’s songs was superb and her acting prowess to match. Arif, too, brought out the complexities of the character well, also mimicking Dilip Kumar to lighten up the atmosphere. The performance left a chilling impact on the audience as they visualised a life full of trauma of these two exceptional film personalities.

Beautiful Sonali, known for her roles in ”˜Dil Chahta Hai’, ”˜Junoon’, ”˜Bride and Prejudice’ and many Marathi films was also seen recently in a small role in ”˜Veerey Di Wedding’ while Arif Zakaria was on screen in recent Alia Bhatt film ”˜Raazi’.

For the non-resident Indians who look up to Bollywood and cinema with stars in our eyes, ‘Gardish Mein Taare’ is an eye opener that people behind the screen can also have very stressful, tense lives sans glamour. Sydney is talking, especially after the killing of two young people in West Pennant Hills by a depressed father who finally killed himself too,   the gun shot in the opening ‘Gardish’ scene reverberating.

Manju Mittal’s dedication and love for the film world has taken her to Cannes, Tokyo and Goa Film Fests, now bringing theatre by some well-known actors of Bollywood to Australia. You need the passion of someone like her to get the art scene going Down Under in spite of many hurdles her and her partner Ruchi Bansal have come across in organising this play. It’s been a huge effort on her part and her company Sai Creative Arts Network.

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