Actor Kanwaljit Singh speaks about the challenges of playing Kaifi Azmi in the renowned play, Kaifi Aur Main, which returns to the city this weekend

this year, Kanwaljit Singh, a well-known name in TV and the Punjabi film industry, will take on the role of Kaifi replacing Javed

Srushti Kulkarni Published :  02nd June 2023 06:58 PM   |   Published :   |  02nd June 2023 06:58 PM

Kanwaljit Singh

Since its premiere in Mumbai in 2006 on the 4th death anniversary of Urdu poet and lyricist, Kaifi Azmi, the play Kaifi Aur Main has garnered widespread acclaim and standing ovations from audiences in India and around the world. Kaifi Aur Main is an immersive play reading that features veteran actors Shabana Azmi, daughter of Kaifi Azmi and Shaukat Kaifi; and Javed Akhtar in the lead roles. However, this year, Kanwaljit Singh, a well-known name in TV and the Punjabi film industry, will take on the role of Kaifi replacing Javed.

Ahead of the show in the city, we get in touch with the new cast member of the play who tells us about what it feels like to be a part of the show. “In my entire career, I had never attempted to take on a role in a play until two years ago, before COVID-19. And I reluctantly accepted it because Shabana, who was my classmate when we were younger, convinced me that I can do it. After a few shows, I started enjoying it and then the pandemic happened. So, when I was approached for the role of Kaifi, because Javed had some back problems, I immediately said yes! I have been a fan of Kaifi Azmi for as long as I can remember. Even before I became a part of this play, I knew a couple of his poems by heart,” Kanwaljit tells us.

The theatrical production with its compelling storyline written by Javed Akhtar, a renowned Indian poet, lyricist and scriptwriter, explores the journey of Kaifi Azmi (father-in-law) from his early days in the small town of Mijwan to becoming a prominent figure in the world of Urdu poetry and Bollywood. The play also delves into his personal and professional struggles, his passion for social activism and his deep love for his wife, Shaukat Kaifi, who was also an acclaimed theatre and film actress. “When the play first premiered, I watched it along with a few of my classmates and I loved it. The way I recite poems is definitely like the way Kaifi Azmi would have done it but I have also tried to bring some of my own personality into the role,” he shares.

Adding to the same, he elaborates, “One of the most challenging aspects of the role is having to recite this one poem without looking at the paper but that is also one of the most beautiful poems Javed Akshtar wrote about Kaifi Azmi.The play promises classic songs written by Kaifi Azmi, accompanied by a live orchestra led by Jaswinder Singh.

₹1,000 onwards. June 4, 7 pm. At Malleshwaram