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Friday, 12 March 2010

Tom Alter Maulana Azad

Photo Courtesy: The Hindu

2 hours and 30 minutes. Can you imagine listening to a person for 2 hours and 30 minutes. 1 person. That too when he's not talking to you. Not only he's not talking to you - he was not even looking at you during the entire 2 hours and 30 minutes. And add to all this the fact that he's speaking in Urdu - on Indian History. How boring! How impossible to sit there for 2 hours and...

But hear this - Nearing the end I was sitting with my mouth open for atleast 15 minutes when the man was talking about Indian Partition. If there is one word I were to ascribe for this play it would rather be - spellbinding.

The play was called - Maulana Azad and a few things which made it spellbinding were:

Tom Alter

Remember a British man who used play all firang roles in the erstwhile TV shows? Remember Junoon?
kisi ko mohabbat ka hai junoon
kisi ko chahat ka hai junooon
juoon junoon junoon

Anywhoo - what a fine actor he is. His voice - his actions - the voice modulation - the suavaness. I cannot but describe. And his sponties - When in the middle of the play the lights suddenly went out, he qu

"यह भी जिन्नाह की ही कोई चाल होगी !"

"आज़ादी के बाद भी दिल्ली की बिजली का यह हाल है"

The great thing about these comments was they looked almost as a prepared part of play and totally in context thus leaving the audience all in laughs...


What a language - so neat, so respectful, so beautiful. I had never appreciated this language as much as I do now after watching the play...

I admit I was not able to get a word of the purely urdu sentences, phrases and gazals. But I was able to note down a few mixed versions.

" गाँधी जी सियासत के मामलों को मज़हब की ऐनक पहनके नहीं देखते थे"

" आप भी गज़ब करते हैं हुमायूँ - दस्तान ए आज़ादी आज़ाद के मुहं ही लिखने बेठ गए"


I had come to believe that I'd almost lost this language. When I was returning from the UK to India I decided to invest the 8-9 hours of flight time in writing a diary entry entirely in Hindi (I did and ended up teaching a little bit to the french girl sitting next to me too!). But again the play brought forward the fond memories of school when I used to enjoy reading the Hindi stories a lot. Just like every other language Hindi has some things, some thoughts, some emotions which could be best felt in Hindi only!

On Gandhi Ji's withdrawl of Non Cooperation movement"बस पूरी रफ़्तार से चली जा रही है और ड्राईवर ने आनन् फानन में ब्रेक लगा दिए"

" मेरे धुटने क्षल हो गए बैठे बैठे"

After criticizing Nehru in his book (Mulana Azad dedicated this book to Nehru!), he said that on reading this Nehru would say,

" किताब मुझे ही dedicate की और मेरे ही पराक्षय उड़ा डाले"


The humour was immaculate (as you can already see in the lines above). But there were more of such things:

"हुमायूँ आपकी अंग्रेजी में नेहरु वाली बात नज़र नहीं आती"

"कभी कभी तो ऐसा लगता है पूरी आज़ादी की लड़ाई २ दुबले पतले गुजरातियों के इर्द गिर्द घूमती है"

"में गाँधी जी का कट्टर मानने वाला हूँ - तो आज कल आनाज छोड़ रखा है; कबाब ही खिला दीजिए!"

Research and Practice

This was like the 100+ show of this play. It was first produced in 2002. The lighting, the movement, the dialogues - everything was perfect.

Well let me end by thanking the Dnd Club - IIT Delhi for organizing such an awesome thing. It brought back all those fond memories of my theater days. The good thing about this college is that you get to see such awesome things - just like that. I mean all you are required to do is to go there - sit and watch!

And this line
"I simply loved the lines when he said,

मौत को किस से रिश्तेदारी है; आज वह, तो कल हमारी है

What bonds does death have with anyone, today it is his, and tomorrow it shall be mine "


Another nice description of this play at Two Circles

The Hindu Feedback


  1. Nice description! History, after all, is not that boring as the text books made us believe. :)

    Ages since I got to watch or read anything (other than a movie) in Hindi.

  2. Yeah - and then when after several years you read/write hindi - it, I don't know why - feels good!

  3. Hey! I must have seen the same enactment as You ... I remember the Power Cut Jinnah comment ...
    I had the same reaction - Awestruck !!
    Unfortunately, I had to leave halfway- hostel rules
    What I remeber most fondly of this act is a couplet:

    Sukoon se kaam nahin - Maandgi ka naam nahin -
    Mere safar mein kahi Manzil-o-maqaam nahin

    Do you know whose lines these are?

  4. Hostel rules! Where exactly did you see this play? IIT Sem hall? But as far as I know there are, fortunately, no hostel rules there...

    Or was it indeed a part of play!!!

    No idea about the lines!

  5. And @ Dedestined - went through your blog, interesting writing style, you should write more often; however, unable to leave a comment on your blog due to some weird reason (remove the word verification feature I guess); so leaving one here :D