7/11: When fact met fiction

By Indian Express

A secret cache of RDX lands up in Alibaug, a mafia don makes a few phone calls and the city is about to be ripped apart by serial blasts… but the timely intervention of an informer-on-the-run finally saves the day. They say fact is often stranger than fiction, which is why Amrish Shah and his co-writer Ameet Mehta of Celluloid Dreams, were deeply disturbed when the plot for their script eerily unfolded on first class train compartments in the city on 7/11.

”We had been working on the script of Informer for a while now and were completely shaken when these blasts occurred. Ours is a masala film, where the bad guys, who plan to bomb the country, are defeated in the end,” says Shah, who registered the full-fledged script with the Film Writer’s Association on March 1.

Real life turned out to be more macabre than the reel script, with no ”happily ever after” ending. But even as Mehta and Shah are coming to grips with the uncanny way in which life imitated art, in a different part of town, it was the other way round.

Terrible Tuesday is the inspiration behind theatre director Mujeeb Khan’s new production titled, Mumbai Tujhe Salam. The play will be a collage of heartwrenching stories from 7/11-a man who loses his limbs, a PTSD-struck young boy who is unable to communicate with his parents and a traveller who loses his life while going home to celebrate his birthday with his wife.

”Whenever a catastrophe of this nature happens, we’ve always gathered public support through theatre,” says Khan of the Indian Drama and Entertainment Academy. His script is more than just a collection of macabre news flashes. The actors also salute altruists who gave lakhs to recuperating victims and families that rushed to donate blood. And further blurring the line between fact and fiction is 19-year-old Sarfaraz, one of the performers, who was actually aboard the ill-fated Virar train.

”The play is in Hindi and it will be free to make it accessible to everyone. We won’t charge a paise if invited to enact it at a private venue,” adds Khan-his other productions include Justice for JessicaGudiya Kiski and Rang Badalti Zaheera. Starting Sunday, Mumbai Tujhe Salam will travel to schools, colleges and mohallas across the city, encouraging audiences to challenge terrorism.

GEORGINA MADDOX