Delta resident Rami Kahlon stars in <em>Dooja Ghar (The Other House) – A Mirza Sahiban </em><em>Story</em>, the flagship production in the 2022 Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts. The play runs Aug. 5-7 and 12-14 at the Campbell Valley Red Barn in Langley. (Submitted photos)

Delta resident Rami Kahlon stars in Dooja Ghar (The Other House) – A Mirza Sahiban Story, the flagship production in the 2022 Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts. The play runs Aug. 5-7 and 12-14 at the Campbell Valley Red Barn in Langley. (Submitted photos)

Delta actor starring in modern stage adaptation of classic Punjabi folk tale

Rami Kahlon stars as Sahiban in Surrey-set Dooja Ghar (The Other House) – A Mirza Sahiban Story

By Anna Burns, special to the North Delta Reporter

A Delta-based actor will take centre stage this month in a modern retelling of a classic Punjabi folk tale.

Surrey native and long-time Delta resident Rami Kahlon stars in Dooja Ghar (The Other House) – A Mirza Sahiban Story, the flagship production in this year’s Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts.

Kahlon plays Sahiban in playwrights Paneet Singh and Andy Kalirai’s interpretation of the Mirza-Sahiban tale that brings the story from India to modern-day Surrey, with 70 per cent of the play in English and the rest in Punjabi.

The heartbreaking love story of Mirza, the mightiest archer, and Sahiban, a beautiful young maiden, is one of the most popular folk tales of Punjab, India.

The two grow up together sharing millions of romantic moments only to later discover that their relationship is frowned upon by their family. Defying societal norms, Mirza challenges fate and rides straight to Sahiban’s house, and the couple decide to flee the village. But when death comes near, Mirza feels betrayed by Sahiban, and the tale has a tragic ending.

Kahlon said it is the Indian equivalent to Romeo and Juliet.

“Sahiban and Mirza are two people that are absolutely in love with each other, but they don’t really have a home because, especially in the Indian community, defying your parents for love is something that’s still frowned upon,” Kahlon said.

“[Sahiban’s] one fatal mistake is falling in love with (this) boy,” she said. “The struggle for her is choosing between her family, her life, her job, her friends, and this boy that she absolutely cannot live without.”

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Like her character in the play, Kahlon grew up in Surrey in the 1990s in an area that had a lot of immigrants from India and Indian-owned businesses.

“I feel like I wouldn’t have been able to connect to [the play] as much if I didn’t grow up seeing the beautiful companies and establishments that immigrants from India have established in Delta,” Kahlon said.

“I think this play is a really heartbreaking and heartwarming version of saying, ‘Your stories will not be forgotten and you were not wrong for choosing your love,’” said Kahon.

The Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, an annual celebration of South Asian arts and artists, runs Aug.5-31 at locations across the Lower Mainland.

Opening night of Dooja Ghar (The Other House) – A Mirza Sahiban Story at Langley’s Campbell Valley Red Barn (1065 224 St.) is this Friday, Aug. 5, with further shows Aug. 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14. All performances begin at 7:30 p.m., with a pre-show reception at 6:30. Tickets cost $20 plus service charge, and are available at monsoonartsfest.ca.

The Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, an annual celebration of South Asian arts and artists, runs Aug.5-31 at locations across the Lower Mainland.

“We’re once again offering free workshops and dance lessons throughout the month, and this year’s festival will end with an outdoor celebration in Vancouver’s historic Punjabi Market,” said Gurpreet Sian, executive director of the South Asian Arts Society and producer of the Monsoon Festival.

Other Delta residents taking part in this year’s festival include Preeti Dhaliwal, who will be teaching a free virtual writing workshop (“Write with Preeti: Locating Yourself in the Midst of Transition”) on Aug. 10, and Raja Singh, who will be giving a free/by donation Bhangra dance lesson on Aug. 14 at the Richmond Arts Centre (7700 Minoru Gate).

Registration for the free and ticketed events, as well as a full schedule of events, can be found at monsoonartsfest.ca/2022/events.

— with files from Tanmay Ahluwalia

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editor@northdeltareporter.com

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