Monday, September 3, 2018

Stages - A Play

Naresh bought tickets for this play and invited me. I am not much of a playgoer but decided to try it out. It was at the Westin Hotel. The play is presented by the Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation, which is led by Mohammad Ali Baig, and which has a mandate of preserving the culture and heritage of Hyderabad. The play is adapted from a short story written by Noor Baig. It premiered in the US, Turkey and several prestigious festivals in India.

The play is about an old world Hyderabad family that saw the opulence, grandeur and Hyderabadi lifestyle of the old in its good days. Read as polo matches, poetry recitals perhaps, large mansions with stables and horses, servants and the works. The house is one of the last such remaining in an otherwise rapidly shrinking space thanks to apartments and high rises. The young protagonist Aziza is an artist and loves the old heritage and memories associated with the house, and her now deceased father, whose portrait she has begun but is not able to complete. Her mother is leaning towards selling the house and moving to an apartment - the maintenance and insecurity of maintaining an old house and an old servant is getting to her. The only man servant left from the old days is the aging Ramaiah who shares Aziza's thoughts. In sharp contrast is the young help, Shehzadi who cares two hoots for heritage etc and is a heady consumerist. Aziza's fiance lives in Chicago and is hoping that she will sell the old house and join him there. He finds that she is not likely to do that and is more likely to let him go than the house and makes his peace with her decision.

The cast was Noor Baig, Vijay Prasad, Madhu Swaminath, Mohammad Ali Baig, Shailaja Reddy and S.A. Majeed.

Like all good things, the play grows on you slowly. Noor Baig carries the play on her own almost and she is good at what she does. It was a fine evening with a lot of fine people including the Consul Generals of the USA, and Turkey and the High Commissioner of Britain, Director Alliance Francaise, Dr. Sahib Rasool Khan of the Shadan Group, in attendance and beaurocrats like Jayesh Ranjan and Arvind Kumar.

For all the talk of preserving heritage it was interesting to see the westerners wearing Indian clothes and the Indians wearing western clothes. There was a panel discussion moderated by Jayesh Ranjan and he did a fine job of it. It pretty much centered around heritage buildings in Hyderabad and what one must do to protect them.

Naresh knew the Baig's and went to meet them and all the others he knew up front in the stage. Very enjoyable evening. Thanks Naresha.

A Qadir Ali Baig production, Mohammad Ali Baig and Noor Baig starring play - ticked.

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