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Guide adapted into Hindi play

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NOVEL APPROACH: Sanjoy Roy's play, unlike Dev Anand's famous 1965 film, sticks to the original

In the footsteps of Dev Anand's iconic film that made Raju Guide and Rosie part of Hindi movie folklore, another production - this time a play - is all set to do a retake on R K Narayan's classic novel. Also called Guide, the play will more or less stick to the original story, unlike Anand's film which charted its own course.

"The film took certain liberties with the story, and when it came out in 1965, Narayan said he it didn't do justice to the book, " says director Sanjoy Roy, who has a background in theatre, but is now known as the man who helps organise the Jaipur Literature Festival. "We have decided to remain truer to the book, which was in many ways a social treatise for its times. "

The original story is simple but multi-layered, explains Roy. "It explores the phenomenon of godmen, concluding that godmen aren't born great but achieve that status because of circumstances which have been thrust upon them. For example, in the book, Raju Guide is a goodnatured charlatan who is wrestling not with his conscience, because he has no conscience to begin with, but with the act of fasting. " Roy says Narayan's story, published in 1958, is also a commentary on devadasis who were struggling to find social acceptance. "At that time, Bharatanatyam was still seen as a temple dance practised solely by devadasis. The book was an important part of the movement that led to Bharatanatyam being accepted as a classical art form. "

He believes the story is still relevant because so many of the issues touched on in the book are evident in society even today. "The book examines fasts and the use of fasts as a symbol of power. From Gandhi to Anna Hazare, the issue is still pertinent, " says Roy. "Starvation and rural famine too exist. "

The idea of adapting the novel into a Hindi play came up about five years ago when Ritu Saigal, the producer, thought of adapting Narayan's novel for the stage. It took a little more than a year to convert the book into a script by NSD graduate Amitabh Srivastava. "We've taken a conscious decision not to be influenced by the film, " says Srivastava, who has written screenplays for films like Hey Ram and Abhay. "The big challenge for us is that people might compare the play to the film. "

Despite this, the play isn't entirely independent of the film. "There are a few songs from the movie - Piya tose naina laage re, Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai and Gaata rahe mera dil - that have been rearranged by the Chennai-based classical pianist Anil Srinivasan, " says Roy.

For the director, the big task was to retain the essence of the 220-page novel in a two-hour-long script. "It was difficult to explore the many layers. The characters are very complex. For example, Marco, the husband, is the archetypal man of his times, while Rosie expresses herself through dance, in a world that is independent of a husband or any other man. "

'Guide' will be staged from April 13 to 21 at the Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi

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