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Babbars' brush with Hyderabad

C. SURESH KUMAR

Nadira Babbar made her presence felt in the city, with her two plays recently.



YESTERDAY ONCE MORE Nadira Babbar as Begum Jaan

The Qadir Ali Baig Theatre foundation in association with the ITC Hotel Kakatiya Sheraton and Towersand supported by the Collector, Hyderabad District, presented two Hindi plays directed by Nadira Zaheer Babbar at the historic and beautiful Chowmohalla Palace recently.. The first day's play, Begum Jaan, written by Javed Siddiqui, revolved around three characters, Begum jaan, a famous classical singer of yesteryears, her grand daughter Zarina and a journalist Sanjay Pande. The play was a reflection of the changing face of India from pre-Independence days to its current state through Begum jaan's narration of various events.

What the writer intended was to show the contacts of Begum jaan with high profile politicians of the pre-independence era and how the journalist Pande tries to get hold of some of the letters supposed to have been written by those well known politicians. The journalist stays as a paying guest in the house of Begum Jaan and tries to get close to her grand daughter Zarina and in turn make a scoop out of the letters. The play showed that Begum jaan was in poor health and had no money but it was amusing to see her drink and offer whiskey to the journalist. The characters Zarina played by Juhee Babbar and Pande played by Shubra Jyot were very uncomfortable and too artificial. The only saving grace was a neat performance by Nadira, though at times was overacting. The backdrop of the Chowmohalla palace drowned the settings. In a nutshell the play was drab. Nadira known for her creative talent could have chosen a better play.

The second day play reminded us of the French play The Four Seasons of Love, which had four characters coming onto the stage and narrate their story in a monologue. Titled Ji; Jaisi Aapki Marzi, written and directed by Nadira Babbar, it was a monologue from four characters about their experiences being a girl, a teenager, a lady and an ambitious housewife. Each character questions certain beliefs, customs and ideas of our society towards the girl child and the abuse they undergo in different circumstances. The portrayal of each character was a bold experiment but the narration and dialogues were crude and vulgar at times. In the name of atrocities on women the depiction may look real, but theatre needs a better handling of the issues, as few dialogues created restlessness amongst certain sections of the audience. The characters Deepa Rai played by Kajri Babbar and Rashmi Pote, as the teenager were outstanding, the other two characters Sultana, played by Preeti Nair and Babli played by Juhee Babbar were apt.

The venue is not ideal for plays, as in an open area the output of the acoustics can be distorted, and that was exactly the reason for the failure of the mikes on the first day. The who's who ,ofbig corporates and the page three crowd of Hyderabad did not mind the failure of the mikes as they got extended time for liquor and snacks. They were all there in huge numbers on both the days enjoying their free drink, and chatting while the play was on and as they are very busy people their mobile phones were also constantly ringing. On the other hand the devoted theatre buffs who purchased tickets and came for the show were barricaded onto different side.

One wonders where do these large crowd go when local theatre groups perform? Perhaps buying tickets to watch locals is a big taboo!

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