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Zee Theatre brings actress Preeta Mathur’s superhit play ‘Hai Mera Dil’ to the silver screen

Preeta Mathur's superhit play 'Hai Mera Dil'

The veteran actor and director also recalls her eventful journey with the play, ‘Hai Mera Dil’ which has been performed for over 43 years

‘Hai Mera Dil’, the long-running adaptation of the Broadway play ‘Send Me No Flowers’ by Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore will now be screened at Zee Theatre. This play has been performed for over 43 years and gave Prithvi Theater its first housefull show way back in 1978. It became synonymous with film and stage stalwart Dinesh Thakur who acted in the play and also directed it till he passed away in 2012. His wife and creative partner Preeta Mathur Thakur believes, ‘Hai Mera Dil’, is the perfect tribute to the man who lived and breathed theatre. Since 2012, Preeta has not only managed Ank Theatre Group which Thakur established in 1976 but has also been performing ‘Hai Mera Dil’ regularly. She is thrilled that the teleplay version produced by Nine Rasa, will now reach even those who have not watched the staged version.

Preeta began acting in ‘Hai Mera Dil’ in 1993 and recalls, “Dinesh ji told me I didn’t have to act and just had to behave as my character Usha would in a situation. This is the exact advice I now give to other actors when I direct them. Once actors shed their own personas, the play becomes very relatable to the audience and they feel they are watching real people who are just like them rather than performers. We have been constantly updating the play and adding contemporary reference points and that is why it appeals to all kinds of people, be they mill workers, army jawans, or an urban, well-heeled audience.”

Expressing her happiness that contemporary theatre today features fewer foreign adaptations and more original writing and adds, “The audience also has a much shorter attention span now. They don’t want too much exposition and the plays have to be crisp and not too long. They want to see fresh stories and that bodes well for theatre which has suffered so much isolation and trauma during the pandemic. I am happy that teleplays, despite being shot on camera, retain the energy of the original play and get the TV audience to experience the vibration of a stage performance.”

About her own journey with theatre, Preeta says, ” I started doing theatre in 1987-88 first with the Indian People Theatre Association (IPTA) and then with Dinesh ji’s ‘Ank’. What has remained unchanged for me is the emphasis on rehearsal and training. For me, even today the most enjoyable part of the theatre is the rehearsals. They bring out the best in you in a very friendly and informal atmosphere. What has also remained unchanged is that you cannot make a full-time career out of the theatre and need a backup plan. Most of us had 9-5 jobs when we started and today people do many creative things to be able to support their passion for theatre.”

Apart from Preeta and Aman Gupta,’Hai Mera Dil’ also stars Atul Mathur, Shankar Iyer, Gunjan Sinha, Saurabh Chauhan, Jai Prakash Jha and Payal Jaiswal. It will be screened on Tata Play Theatre.