Listen to stories of Manto, Premchand and other literary stalwarts at the newly launched tele-theatre series, Koi Baat Chale

The series is a way to rediscover works of great writers with vivid storytelling and narration
Koi Baat Chale by Saadat Hasan Manto
Koi Baat Chale by Saadat Hasan Manto

With the fast pacing life and shrinking attention spans, the beauty of the written word is getting lost somewhere. Storytelling and readings of literary gems are being forgotten. But now, spotlighting the forgotten stories of literary figures like playwright and author Saadat Hasan Manto, fiction writer Munshi Premchand and more, Zee Theatre has launched a new show called Koi Baat Chale. The six-part series will have dramatic readings of some of the best and critically acclaimed works of authors, novelists, poets, essayists, and playwrights. The series is helmed by season performer Seema Pahwa, who will act as well as direct.

The first two stories in the six-part collection will have the famous Toba Tek Singh and Harak by Manto (narrated by Manoj Pahwa and Sadiya Siddiqui, respectively). This will be followed by a reading of Manto's Mammad Bhai which is about a Robin Hood-like character (narrated by Vineet Singh), Harishankar Parsai's Ek Film Katha which is a satire on Hindi cinema (narrated by Gopal Datt), and Premchand's celebrated stories Idgah and Gulli Danda (narrated by Vivaan Shah and Vinay Pathak respectively).

The series is a way to rediscover great writers who have left a glorious literary legacy to be passed down to future generations. Director Seema Pahwa shares her views, "I was focussed not just on how stories are presented visually but how they are written. I love that moment of alchemy when a text comes alive in the voice of an actor.  I believe that these stories are not just about the past but also about the present and probably the future. For instance, Toba Tek Singh is not just about Partition but what happens when hate and division take over sanity and peace. Similarly, Hatak is about gender questions, the way women are turned into commodities and the invincibility of feminine power. These stories still ring true and that is why it is important to retell them to the new generation." 

Actor Manoj Pahwa adds, “Toba Tek Singh is a seminal take on Partition and reminded me once again of the trauma of displacement and the loss of a sense of home that millions experienced in 1947. The tragedy of a lunatic Bishan Singh who is being 'exchanged' by the governments of India and Pakistan stirred up so many emotions in me. The no-man's land he finds himself in represents the confusion and pain of so many people whose identities were fractured & fragmented by Partition. What makes this story even more powerful is the sarcasm, wit, and satire that Manto infuses in it."

Discussing the story she will narrate, actor Sadiya Siddiqui says, "Manto’s Hatak is centred around a golden-hearted sex worker who lives on the fringes of society and has forged a tenuous emotional attachment with a hawaldar, Madho. The turning point comes when one day, Sugandhi meets a rich client in his car but is cruelly mocked and rejected by him. What interested me most was how Sugandhi, though devastated by this insult, begins to re-evaluate her life. This is a very powerful story because even in indignity, a woman finds the courage to validate her own value as a human being."

The series will premiere on November 19 on Tata Play Theatre and the Tata Play Mobile app.

Twitter: @ranapriyamvada

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