Saif Hyder Hasan started his career as a trainee copywriter. He has worked as a journalist and is currently Director Communications, Mouthshut.com. He has written nine plays. His book One Yesterday, a compilation of memoirs was published by Rupa & Co in 2004. In 2007, Saif was part of the jury of 'Classmate Young Author Contest 2006'. The panel was headed by Ruskin Bond.Saif was commissioned by the BBC World Service Trust to write their radio drama Life Gulmohar Style. He is awaiting the publication of his first novel, Not Much Of A Distance. His new play AAINE KE SAU TUKDE opened in Mumbai on 13th March 2011.
Tell a little about your background in the Theatre.
The first modern play I read was WAITING FOR GODOT, and I remember being hooked. Before that there was definitely Shakespeare, particularly his tragedies. Christopher Marlowe, Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained (which I interpret as plays rather than epic poems because of the visual element), Ibsen, Strindeberg, the Greek high dramas and the list continues. I followed Sartre, TS Eliot (MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL) before I was introduced to Indian theatre. The journey had begun. I studied at the Aligarh Muslim University which encouraged theatre and gave us students a certain creative liberty. I was too shy to join the Drama Club but watching and reading plays was a habit I picked up from those days.
In 1996, I joined Pierrot's Troupe in New Delhi and multi-tasked for them as a playwright, actor, stage hand and an assistant. Did some interesting work in Delhi before moving to Mumbai in 2002. Here the most interesting part of my journey was adapting a short story by Gulzar sahab - Adhdha - into a play and having got his approval for the same. Difficult to sum up my journey so far - a lot more lows than the highs but it has been worth it - truly. And a long way to go. There are many more stories to narrate ... let's see.
What has been special to you about AAINE KE SAU TUKDE?
In 2006, I wrote a play called MIRROR MIRROR ON THE WALL which was performed by Payal Nair and directed by Ashok Purang. Though the play was appreciated by a small audience, it faded away all too soon. I moved on to other things but when my friend, Joy Sengupta read the text, I was encouraged to revive it. His response was most enthusiastic. In 2009 I moved to Delhi due to personal reasons. In the meantime, things sort of all came together and I got a call from this lady who encouraged me to stage this play with Shweta Tiwari. I re-wrote the text and thus was born AAINE KE SAU TUKDE.
AAINE KE SAU TUKDE is neither an outright commercial play and nor is it an experiment in the real sense of the term, and yet at the same time it is both. At the core is an interesting and a very relatable story of sibling rivalry. Also, it has the goodwill of a lot of people behind it and an actress who is courage personified.
How was your experience working with Shweta Tiwari?
Shweta Tiwari is one of the most courageous performers I have met. See her rehearse and you will know what I am talking about. She keeps calling herself a television actress. I disagree with the compartmentalization. She is a performer with a great reservoir of strength and imagination. She has the knack of surprising you at every single rehearsal. She has given Minal (the protagonist) all the dignity she deserved and more. There is a spark in her eyes. She has brought her personality to the play and this has made everything so exciting. Superb (to quote her when she likes something)!
What kind of plays do you like to direct?
Depends on the script. However, I would love to rework Christopher Marlowe's DR FAUSTUS, revisit Devdas from Chunnilal's perspective, work on Tagore ... there is so much to be done.
Are there any other Indian Theatre companies whose work you have liked?
So many. Feroze Khan, Arvind Gaur, Sayeed Alam, Manav Kaul. Bijon Mandal's KARNA was so riveting. Ramu Ramanathan, Sunil Shanbag- all of them are doing such great stuff. But I guess I miss the age of the playwright, of the irreverent iconoclast who never said f*&* off when he wanted to yell FUCK OFF!
What else are you working on presently?
Nothing much. This play has consumed all my energies.