'For me, theatre is a legacy'

'For me, theatre is a legacy'

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'For me, theatre is a legacy'

It is not everyday that someone adapts a historical tale and makes it into a big theatrical, larger-than-life experience. Theatrician Mohammad Ali Baig does just that every time he presents a production on stage.

In his latest production ‘1857:Turrebaz Khan’ staged at Shangri-La Hotel, he left Bengalureans awestruck. In a chat with Tini Sara Anien, Mohammad Ali sheds light on theatre and more.

From script to stage, tell us about the journey of ‘1857: Turrebaz Khan’. The outcome was overwhelming and fulfilling. It’s a tough job to fictionalise someone who actually existed. I took up this powerful 19th century biographical tale because there was not much information available about this unsung hero Turrebaz Khan.

The story is set in a forest with an imaginary dialogue between the captive soldier and the captor in the last hour of captivity before Turrebaz was shot dead. We opened the play at Edinburgh Fringe and took it to London.

What is theatre according to you?

For me, theatre is a responsibility and a legacy. There are not many chances I can take here unlike in advertising where I worked earlier. Theatre is one art form where all art forms amalgamate. I have been told by people that sometimes when they come for my performances, they take some time to come back to reality. This is the true kind of theatre I believe in.

How important is music for theatre?

Music is an important metaphor. It is a very strong part of my theatre. From Manganiyar singers to live ‘qawwali’, I’ve used music in many forms in my productions. I use very less recorded music and more of live music. It becomes a character in my plays.

How has theatre changed your life?

It’s like a son’s duty towards his father. Every step I take in theatre takes me closer to his memories — the joy and the pain. I still feel shivers when I perform.

How do you see theatre positioned in today’s society?

I’ve been lucky to perform with legendary names around the world. My approach to theatre is different. If one gifts audience theatre which they can relish, then theatre will succeed anywhere. We need more original and young writers in India.