Teri Amrita - A Tale of Unrequited Love

December 25, 2012
Divya Dutta reading letters as Amrita

बड़े नामुराद होते हैं वो शख्स 
जिनकी मुहब्बत को चाहत का किनारा न मिला;  
जैसे दफनाया गया हो 
कोई लावारिस स,  बेशिनाख्त 
और  मज़ार तक तो अपनों का सहारा न मिला 

(Roughly, An individual whose love remains unrequited is as unlucky as a person whose dead body is buried as an unidentified person, even when he is surrounded by people who know him)

I could never imagine that the now extinct form of communication - letter writing - could actually be presented as an art form, till I got the opportunity to be audience of the dramatized letter reading of  "Teri Amrita" at The Shri Ram Centre for Art and Culture at New Delhi the last weekend. 

Originally "Love Letters" written by AG Gurney, which understandably brought out the 'Tumhari Amrita" by Javed Siddiqui  enacted by Shabana Azmi and Farooq Shiekh and now adapted in Punjabi by Amrik Gill and presented by (and directed by) Om Puri and Divya Dutta as "Teri Amrita" ( Amrita pronounced as Amarta!)

The letters, read by the two actors,  unfold the tale of two lovers covering a period of forty years across the spread of continents and barriers of man made boundaries. The readings unveiled the story of two souls too entwined to let go of each other and yet separated physically from each other, I would say due to their choices.  Yet the fabric of their love is woven by the innumerable letters they exchange narrating the meanders of their lives. 

The roles played passionately by Om Puri as Zulfi and Divya Dutta as Amrita brings alive the pain of being in love and yet remaining separated all their lives.  But the reason for staying away is the choice and not destiny really.  Zulfi is a conservative guy, folllows whatever his parents say and rises high in his career path of education and bureaucratic position and then a Minister.  Amrita is a free soul, a rebel and lives her life through the choicesof her heart.  She is lucky for that matter to be recognized as amongst the finest painters of the country and holds exhibitions the world over.

Although, this contrast of portrayal of her character as a free spirit and her extraordinary professional success surprised me a bit.  A free wandering soul has expression but generally needs a mentor and guide to move her up the ladder of professional success.  Sometimes being a pure artist devoid of the keenness to be a winner can be self destructing - well that is what she does at the end... self destruction.

She lives and dies for love.  She commits suicide for the welfare of her love Zulfi, who gave her nothing but pain, loneliness and more pain as he moved ahead relentlessly on his path of professional, social and personal success in society, holding the position of a Minister, marrying a girl for the benefit of his career and rearing a family as any other married man.  He shares all this with Amrita through his letters, even when he is aware of his love for her, even when she asks him to marry her.  He chooses career and position over love.

The question that struck me as I got up from my seat to give a standing ovation and applause to the heart wrenching performance of the two actors, was that is it worthwhile to love and not to be loved back ever by that person?  Is one sided love actually love, or is it an obsession of the thing which has been denied to us?  Is the expectation to be loved back in a relationship too much?  Or is it not love where you expect the other person to love you back?

I was reading some thought about love by Osho.  It said something like if you are looking for love in return of love, then you really are wasting your time, as it is not love.  But how long can you keep on loving a person without reciprocation?  And if you do, is that natural or its your dependence to be in love and pain which making you stick to your object of desire? I really don't know. What do you think dear reader?


PS: I thank my friends and blogger pals to prod me to write something in the blog, after a long time! Another thanks to the friend who arranged the pass for this play, as it was really difficult to get it.

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