Event Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation’s ‘Quli – dilon ka shahzaada’ is an apt perspective of the history of Hyderabad from the 21st century. RANEE KUMAR
The objective was evident from the beginning, by way of proclamation as well as subject; viz. to highlight the heritage of Hyderabad as we see and enjoy it today. The embryo lay in the romantic story of a prince of Iranian origin, of Qutb Shahi ancestry and a Devadasi girl (temple dancer) of Hindu origin who eventually became his consort and queen.
It is obvious that this play, Quli-dilon ka shahzaada has been conceived keeping a Facebook/Twitter-oriented audience in mind for most part since it crisply dealt with the 16th century saga of Bhagmati and Mohammad Quli (son of Ibrahim Qutb Shah) of Golkonda from their first predestined encounter to profound love to marriage ( nikah ), status of queen, motherhood and death — all in a matter of one hour. Spiced with songs (Rubayi), rendered live by Ustad Ahsan Khan and Adil Hussain Khan with percussion by Syed Ismail and Shaik Dawood in raag like Miyan ki Malhar which throbbed with beautiful, lilting poetry. Quli was a romantic poet who wrote in ‘Deccani’ lingo of which he was the originator.
The legendary protagonist Mohammad Quli ably portrayed by Mohammad Ali Baig makes a dramatic entry on a pristine white horse amidst the audience, thanking them for making it to the venue (ramparts of Golkonda fort) to witness his tale of love and its fallout resulting in the founding of Hyderabad way back in 1591. A lapel mike on Quli at this juncture would have helped the gathering to catch his monologue of welcome, which for most part was not audible as he moved ahead to the stage.
The play took the form of a soliloquy by both the principal characters — the prince and Bhagmati essayed by Noor — and later turns into a dialogue between the two. There are hardly any other characters coming up except for a vague appearance of Bhagmati’s priest father (Vijay Prasad) and the prince’s mother (Rashmi Seth) who caution the two protagonists on the goings-on that augur doom. Poetic dialogues in chaste Urdu, eloquently uttered by both the actors were appreciable, like “ hum dono ka milna ek shehar ka buniyad bangaya… ” but that sublime love that led Quli to take the risk and unite two different cultures, in that century, has to peter down to the audience to make an impact.
By the same token, Baig proved more natural and realistic when it came to the lamenting conversation with his wife towards the end. Her responses were equally sensitive but the end where we are told that she succumbed to illness when trying to rescue the sick, could have come with a sort of stunning effect to make for a lasting impression of sacrifice, on the audience.
The run-up to the end read like a newspaper obituary. These minor creases apart, one fact which no history need to prove, is trying to make a priest’s daughter a devadasi, which goes against the societal norms of the 16th century Hinduism. A little homework on this aspect would nullify any criticism that is bound to occur if the play is staged abroad.
The period costumes had the regal touch. The lighting on stage was conducive to the very brief shadow dance but was a blind spot for the audience who had to strain themselves to make out the facial expressions of the artistes on stage. Kudos to Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation for putting up such heritage shows in the precincts of the monumental Golconda fort.
The play took the form of a soliloquy by both the principal characters.