Unfolding this weekend at Ranga Shankara will be different love stories, taken from different eras, and presented in the most realistic setting.
With vivid memories of his legendary father Qadir Ali Baig, Dada Saheb Phalke awardee, showcasing a magical performance of Quli: Dilon Ka Shahzaada at the Golconda Fort in the ’70s, acclaimed theatreperson Mohammad Ali Baig revisits the epic romantic drama in Bengaluru this weekend. “The original was large scale with 40 artistes. It was larger than life. But I have given this a contemporary twist to suit today’s audience, the Twitter and YouTube generation,” says the Padmashri award winner.
The play will feature his wife Noor as dancer-singer Bhagmati, and Mohammad dons the role of prince Quli Qutub Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, who also happens to be a poet. The theatre spectacle is a touching tale of two mutually respecting artistes whose soulful love overcame political, social and cultural barriers. “The story never ceases to fascinate me; it is timeless and has a universal appeal. Though the story is about Quli, and his love for Bhagmati, a devadasi, whose love knew no boundaries, it can also be about any two individuals committed to love,” says Baig, who has conceived, designed and directed the play.
With a blend of impeccable performances embellished with live qawwali, Indian classical shadow dances, period sets and costumes, the play promises to take the audience back to the 17th century Indian kingdom of Golconda.
Baig is renowned for creating realistic characters, the kind you will relate to, and his plays often leave you touched. One such play is Spaces, set in 2015 from one of the short stories written by his wife, which will also be staged in the city. It is set in an old mansion where its protagonist, Aziza, a young artist, struggles to preserve her identity and cherished heritage.
Caught in a ‘conflict’ of tradition and modernity between her and her Chicago-based fiancé, Javed, Aziza finds herself up against almost everyone around her, having to face the tough choice — whether to hold on to her precious childhood memories or to let go, and move on.
“The play brings to the forefront a question most of us ask in any urban society globally: do we define our space or does our space define us? If home is where the heart is, what does ‘home’ really mean — is it the four walls of a house or the deeper, metaphysical ‘space’ within us?” Baig says. Spaces opened to packed audiences at the historic Chowmohalla Palace in Hyderabad and had its international premiere in Istanbul and in London.
Quli: Dilon ka Shahzaada on December 19 (3.30 pm,7.30 pm). Spaces on December 20 (3.30 pm, 7.30 pm).Tickets (Rs 200) available at the venue. At JP Nagar. Details: 26493982
— Nandini Kumar