Hyderabad Theatre

A theatrical tribute

Qadir Ali Baig Foundation returns with a revamped showing of ‘Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada’ followed by a theatre fest featuring Denzil Smith and Sharon Prabhakar

The premiere of Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada in 2013 garnered a 1200-strong audience at its showing at Golconda Fort followed by a plethora of global plaudits. Mohammad Ali Baig and Noor Baig, who produced and star in the play, will be revamping the critically acclaimed spectacle at Taj Falaknuma Palace this weekend, on the anniversary of the late Qadir Ali Baig. The Foundation is also hosting a theatre fest with prominent names in the stage world the following weekend.

Local love

Despite an evergreen love for film, Hyderabad’s appreciation for theatre is flourishing. In 46 years, Qadir Ali Baig has paved the way for an enriched theatrescape through 46 productions, according to his son Mohammad, “It is difficult to match up to his legacy, but it’s a responsibility and a cherished inheritance. I remember, as a child, in one of his interviews he had mentioned that his vision was to see Hyderabad on par with any theatre-vibrant city of the world.”

Noor shares her observations on gender empowerment in the industry, “After working while travelling and performing globally, I’ve come to believe that theatre can be done with complete dignity, respect and professionalism. It’s great to see daughters and daughters-in-law of other illustrious theatre families of the country shouldering theatre legacies, such as ours. It’s heartening to see more young women writers and directors coming up in the country with quality work in the past few years. The Foundation itself is chaired by my mother-in-law with eminent women on the board and produces women-oriented plays periodically directed by women directors.”

An enduring narrative

Quli, a historical love story, covers a fiery relationship between royal Prince Quli Qutub Shah and dancer Bhagmati. There’s a timelessness about this story that has touched audiences and Mohammad explains why, “History defines our present and dictates our future. As director, there’s a certain thrill in recreating historical eras, researching every aspect of theatre; from text and dialect to costumes and jewellery to the characters’ body language and styling. This production is inspired by what Baba used to stage at the Rani Mahal of Golconda Fort, in the 1970s. Though his production was more in classical Spectacle Theatre form, I have contemporarised it for today’s audiences, keeping the travel-portability in mind.”

Noor shares that there’s plenty to anticipate in the forthcoming, emotionally-charged show, “Notably, performers, technicians, and backstage hands in the Foundation’s repertory are offspring of those who have worked with the doyen. The script has seen several improvisations and value-additions since its first staging. An interesting aspect of the long opening monologue of Prince Quli (besides it being on horseback), is that Mohammad improvises it each time, based on the country, ambience, and audience we are performing for. We have performed this play from a scorching 45 degrees Celsius in Goa to a breezy riverside venue in Europe to freezing US and Canadian weather and to the blinding beauty of Turkey.”

Two-day fest

In addition to the revamp of the Quli, July 7 and 8 will be ushering in a energetic theatre fest with internationally-loved artistes, in modern and invigorating performances.

On July 7, British theatre veteran Denzil Smith along with Rhys Sebastian D’Souza will be embodying the Goan and Anglo-Indian musicians who infused jazz into Hindi film music between the 50s and 70s. Directed by Etienne Coutinho and written by Etienne Ramanathan, the play will serve as a portal to one of the biggest historical turning points in Indian film.

A theatrical tribute

Denzil has also worked on landmark theatre productions such as On a Muggy Mumbai Night which oriented around the lives of gay men in Mumbai. Film enthusiasts will have seen stage savant in The Marigold Hotel films alongside Judi Dench and The Lunchbox with Irfan Khan. Denzil has now over 40 plays and 29 films to his name.

July 8 brings Sharon Prabhakar’s one-woman-show That’s Life! in which the actress and singer will be recounting her struggles, triumphs and milestones — which include her titular role in the musical Evita and her representing India in numerous music festivals around the world. Most notably, Sharon headlined for Michael Jackson when he performed in Mumbai in 1996. That’s Life! will also have Sharon doling out some of the most profound music in Bollywood.

Qadir Ali Baig Foundation shows

’Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada’ at Taj Falaknuma Palace on July 2 at 7:30pm

‘Bombay Jazz’ at Radisson Blu at 7:30pm on July 7 at 7:30pm.

Sharon Prabhakar’s ‘That’s Life!’ at Radisson Blu on July 8 at 7:30pm

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:14:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/qadir-ali-baig-foundation-theatre-show-july-2017-quli-denzil-smith-sharon-prabhakar/article19179579.ece

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