The renowned play, 'Sir Sir Sarla' was released on Zee Theatre. This evergreen play by Makarand Deshpande features Aahana Kumra, Sanjay Dadhich and Anjum Sharma in a very personal role.
Makarand Despande and Aahana Kumra play the lead roles in this celebrated play.
Written and directed by Makarand Despande, SIR SIR SARLA is a classic play which explores the story of Professor Palekar and his student Sarla – the pretty, innocent young girl who seems smitten by her mentor – and Phanidhar who shares a love-hate relationship with the professor. The teleplay explores the bond between the students and their professors, which faces many ebbs and flows. Secrets are revealed, accusations are thrown, and the three lives remain interwoven for many years to come.
Makarand Deshpande, Aahana Kumra, Sanjay Dadhich & Anjum Sharma
In an interview with Deshpande, we asked him about his experience, the story and the impact Sir Sir Sarla had on the audience. First staged in 2001, this play has come a long way. The actors changed, the story evolved, but the feel and impact remains.
It is a different cast now. How was the experience working with Aahana Kumra, Sanjay Dadhich and Anjum Sharma?
The legacy has to be carried forward. By the time, I was going to stage the play with Aahana, Sanjay and Anjum, ‘Sir Sir Sarla’ was already done with Anurag Kashyap, Sonali Kulkarni, Rajendra Gupta and Abhimanyu Singh in 2001 and has been performed with the cast since then. We performed for years.
Now that I was working with the new cast, it was quite different. We had to get actors who would relate to characters of Sarla, Phanidhar and others. It was a good experience as the actors were aware of the fact that they will be stepping into something that has already been established, so they have a challenging task ahead.
What was your relationship with the actors like?
Aahana, Sanjay and Anjum have been like students to me, since I play the professor and the script was built in a way where the student-professor relation is to be highlighted, I believe the present cast was more appropriate and in need of the script.
When you see the play, you can relate to the play as the setting was more informal. I had a wonderful time working with them.
What are your thoughts on the present cast’s performance?
Aahana who plays the role Sarla is a trained actor and has a certain kind of approach towards acting, so it becomes more informal and comfortable. Sanjay (Phanidhar) knew how to approach the character and tap into the ‘simplicity’ side of acting. It felt more like a family outing than a play rehearsal.
Can You talk about your character?
I play the role of Professor Palekar who has been given a national award for being one of the best professors in the country. He teaches Literature, so his language has the essence of love and poetry in it. The professor in a way teaches love to his students. Love for your life, for literature and love in thought.
How has the story evolved along the way?
I think with different actors, the story takes a turn too. An actor comes with their set of beliefs, morality and sense of the script and somewhere their acting will completely change the play as well. Even if the lines remain the same, the way these lines are delivered will change the play in a way. The story evolves with the actors. I think this time the characters were more connected to the professor (Deshpande).
Even with the changed cast, the impact is still the same. So I think the script and the story is really impactful. People remember the dialogues, the lines of the play. The poetic side of the play has worked.
The play aired on ‘Zee theatres.’ What influenced this decision?
See, I unfortunately cannot go and perform everywhere. The cities and places where I can’t go, this will be the medium. TV will help us in reaching a vast audience. The play will exist forever. Through its release on an online platform, we have immortalized the play.
This will also give exposure to the actors, directors, writers and everyone who has worked hard on ‘Sir Sir Sarla.’
What was the impact of Sir Sir Sarla like?
I said to the audience that in the end, if you feel this was like a “stage play” then you can take your money back. Because I believe that you need to relate and feel the characters’ emotions and once you start getting involved into the play and identify with each character, it is when you become part of the play. So in the end, if it didn’t feel that way, you can take your money back.
I was happy that everyone felt amazing after watching the play. We got feedback from many people saying that this play has changed their lives. They told us never to shut the play. It has to go on. I feel this play was meant to be recorded. It was meant to be put on a platform where every person can watch it. Cause people do want to watch it, not once, but again and again.
What was it like post-lockdown? Has the pandemic affected the live audience?
I will have to tell you that after lockdown when the theaters opened again, people came. The audience took all the precautions and came to watch the play. I feel people probably didn’t go to 'cinema halls' as much as they went to theaters; also because they missed it. Theatre audience is very loyal.
A couple, who had planned a trip to England, even adjusted their schedule. They were like, “It is Makarand’s play. We will go after watching.”
I believe the people who are watching Sir Sir Sarla now, will tell their kids to watch it after years. It is such a play that will just keep going on and on. It will be loved by people for years.
Anything you want to say to the audience?
I feel this is a play that you shouldn’t miss; something that you should watch at least once in your lifetime. If people feel good after watching, Sir Sir Sarla, I will feel content.