Makarand Deshpande stages his play Sir Sir Sarla in Bengaluru
There are teachers who teach lessons, and there are teachers who change lives. Makarand Deshpande’s play, Sir Sir Sarla, explores this kind of teacher-student relationship between a tutor and his three students — Sarla, Keshav and Phanidhar. The play comes to Bengaluru for the first time under the Maruti Suzuki Zee Theatre series.
It’s a tale of love, admiration, uncertainty and the consequential pain that follows. The three students admire Sir (played by Makarand) for all that he is, but it’s Sarla, the most dominant one, who is infatuated with him. Phanidhar, the shy and timid one, is the most intelligent of the three students and is the poet. The third student, Keshav, who belongs to a business family, is a man of few words. While Phanidhar and Sarla relate to Sir’s teachings and thoughts, Keshav just agrees with his friends and does not really have an opinion.
Phanidhar believes that though Sir is aware of his students’ feelings and thoughts, he chooses to ignore them. “The play begins with Sir waking up from a bad dream, in which Phanidhar has killed him. But when he is awake, he sees Phanidhar in the room, working as usual. The first half of the play sets up the context of what has happened to the characters in the past, and the second half is about the present,” explains Makarand. Though Sarla gets married to Keshav, there is uncertainty in the relationship. At one point in the play, the question about how Sarla made this decision to marry Keshav under Sir’s influence surfaces. Phanidhar then questions the irrefutable admiration for Sir and his thoughts.
Reminiscing the past
While the play deals with the seriousness of human emotions and relationships, for Makarand (also the playwright and director), his earliest memories of his teachers go back to something simple. “We had a teacher in 4th Standard called Miss Bhat, who we all admired. Apart from teaching from textbooks, she would tell us lot of stories from books and films, not only to entertain us but to give us a larger perspective about subjects. In college I had another teacher, he was incredible, who made me believe I was good in sports. The professors in my life have been very important,” he remembers fondly.
The play is one of the longest running plays in Mumbai, being staged since early the 2000s. One of the reasons, perhaps, for the success of the play is the indulgent use of Hindi poetry. “If any emotion needs to be expressed, poetry is the best way to express it,” says Makarand. The play makes you ponder whether students can be entirely dependent on their teacher. “What happens when we have become professors of our lives, and we track back to question all that has happened? Perhaps, some questions are best left unanswered,” signs off the playwright.
October 14, 7 pm. At Chowdiah Memorial Hall. Tickets (Rs 150) on bookmyshow.com