Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's next directorial Mirzya stars Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher Fotocorp
You may have heard (a million times) that Mirziya, which marks the debut of Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher, is based on the tragic story of lovers Mirza-Sahiban. In an interview to t2, director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, said he has been fascinated by this Punjabi folktale for close to 30 years.
But it's one question in particular that has haunted Mehra. In an exclusive interview to t2, the director said that since he watched the play 30 years ago, he has been wondering why Sahibaan broke her lover's arrows.
He said, “When I first watched the play in college some 30-odd years ago, what first struck me was that Sahiban is a very strong female protagonist with her head on her shoulders. She knew she was extremely beautiful and could use her beauty on men... but then, when love strikes and you come across your soul-mate, then everything else goes out of the window.”
The story goes that Sahiban and Mirza came from feuding families much like Romeo and Juliet. But to make matters worse, Sahiban was already engaged to someone else. As in most classic love tales, the protagonists had only one way out – they eloped. The lovers rode on horseback across a valley. But after three days, when they stopped for a rest, the enemies caught up with them.
Talking about the play that planted the obsession in Mehra's head, he said, “When Mirza woke up, he found himself surrounded by the enemy. Mirza was known for his archery skills and could shoot almost blindfolded. But when he reached for his arrows, he realised that the ends of all his arrows were broken. He couldn’t defend himself and while he was bleeding to death, he had only one question in his eyes for Sahiban: ‘Why did you break my arrows?’ When the play ended, the director came up on stage and asked, ‘Why do you think Sahiban did this?’ So our hands went up and all of us had a different answer. But deep down, in my subconsciousness all these years, this question has stayed with me. And not just a simplistic question, but why do we hurt those who we love the most?”
Fortunately for Mehra, he eventually figured he was not alone in his curiosity. “One day, I hopped over to Gulzarbhai’s house — we are neighbours — for a cup of tea. I asked Gulzarbhai, ‘Sahiban ne teer kyun tode?’ He says, ‘Bachchu, woh toh tum jaake Sahiban se poochho.’ I told him that I had been looking for Sahiban for almost all my life, but she had been eluding me. I asked Gulzarbhai, ‘Why don’t you tell me?’ That was my proposition to him to write the story. His eyes kind of lit up and he told me, ‘Okay, let’s hold hands and walk this journey together and we’ll find Sahiban somewhere and we will ask her’.”
Our instinct tells us that if Gulzar and Mehra set out to answer this question in their own original way, their take is unlikely to be cliched. We're waiting to see if we're right when the movie releases on October 7.