The last year’s release The Xpose was a debacle and senseless but it made one thing clear – if executed and scripted well, one can come up with a great product with the backdrop of 50s and 60s stars and their scandalous and tumultuous lives. Saif Hyder Hasan’s latest play Gardish Mein Taare is also based in a similar world and attempts to tell the tale of a filmmaker-actor and his wife, a singer – both are which loosely inspired from Guru Dutt andGeeta Dutt respectively.

The story: Devdutt Bose (Arif Zakaria) has delivered a successful film Bhookh and has put all his efforts in making his next film, Patjad Ki Awaaz. He has had a love marriage with Bhavna (Sonali Kulkarni) and as time passes, cracks develop in their relationship. Bhavna is amused that the world sees Devdutt as sensitive and kind-hearted as in her opinion, he is ruthless, rigid and somebody who has clipped her wings. How both fall from grace in getting even with each other when all they wanted was to love and be with one another forms the crux of the story.

Gardish Mein Taare is 80 minutes long and unlike Hasan’s last play Ek Mulaqat which had too much of Urdu and Punjabi dialogues, this one is easy to comprehend, at least for someone like me, as the dialogues are in Hindi. The writing (Summana Ahmad) is simple but is quite sharp and makes a lot of impact. Just like Ek Mulaqat, Gardish Mein Taare too has just two actors despite that there are 3 more significant characters in the play. These characters are not shown and only their voices can be heard while Devdutt or Bhavna respond to them and beautifully pretend that that person is standing next to them. The best part in this regard is when Bhavna gets interrogated by the cop and she wonderfully throws her arm ‘around him’! I don’t know if something of this sort often happens in plays but it made for a great, unique experience! The content meanwhile is quite strong and even shocking at places and that definitely adds to the impact. But the best is definitely reserved for the finale. The final play of words between Devdutt and Bhavna is quite touching and heartfelt. The director and writers doesn’t try to judge or conclude who is right or wrong and whether anyone is right or wrong. Despite being based in the 60s, the play is relevant even today as it throws light on what often goes wrong in relationships.

Gardish Mein Taare rests not only the superb writing but also performances. Arif Zakaria has a terrific dialogue delivery and comes up with his most brilliant performance. Watch out for him in the confrontational scenes and when he is angry – he rocks the whole theatre with the manner in which he threw his voice! There are portions where you’ll hate his character and there are portions where you’ll deeply sympathize and this marks the success of his bravura performance. Sonali Kulkarni too gives quite a powerful performance. In fact, her character has some interesting nuances and due to that and her terrific act, there are places where she even overpowers Arif! For instance, the scene where she gets drunk during the interrogation or when she comes home fully sloshed – she’s so amazing! And to top it, she even sings beautifully!

Director Saif Hyder Hasan has now become a master when it comes to challenging, one act, two actor, period drama plays! Also, the research is terrific and the manner in which he incorporated fictional elements and real-life incidents make for an entertaining watch. The Yusuf portion is just amazing – see it to believe it! Also, the humour infused in between prevents the play from becoming too dark and depressing.

On the whole, Gardish Mein Taare is a work of art inspired by two of the most prominent film personalities of yesteryear. The content is entertaining and also shocking at places but is something that everyone can relate to. The play ends on a very justified note and will surely be appreciated by audiences. The story, script and dialogues are upto the mark while Arif Zakaria and Sonali Kulkarni rock the show with their award-winning performances. Thepremiere show of the play was held at NCPA, Mumbai on January 26, 2015 and has got an encouraging response. Definitely, this play is a ‘lambi race ka ghoda’Go for it, if you enjoy such kind of entertainment!

My rating - **** out of 5!