Remembering Habib Tanvir on his birth centenary year

Habib Tanvir

This is the birth centenary year of renowned playwright, director, actor Habib Tanvir. He was born on 1 September 1923 in Raipur, Chhattisgarh. Habib Tanvir’s father Hafiz Ahmed Khan was a resident of Peshawar (Pakistan). Habib Tanveer completed his schooling in Raipur. After this he graduated from Nagpur University in 1944 and MA from Aligarh Muslim University. After that he went to Mumbai. There he was associated with IPTA and Progressive Writers Association. He also joined All India Radio in Bombay as a producer. Wrote poems, acted in films. Habib Tanveer also took charge of IPTA when prominent dramatists associated with IPTA went to jail against the British.

Any discussion of Indian theater would be incomplete without Habib Tanvir, to discuss Habib Tanvir is to talk about several styles, expressions, identities and ethos of theater simultaneously. The truth is that there are so many facets to Habib Tanveer’s acting and personality that it is impossible to include them all. His personality is as interesting as the actor’s various roles in the play. Despite his deep knowledge of world theatre, he continued to work with rural actors, discovering his style among the people without being attached to cinema.

Habib Tanvir came to Delhi in 1954. In the same year, he wrote his historical play ‘Agra Bazar’ and grabbed everyone’s attention. ‘Agra Bazar’ is considered as a revolutionary chapter in Indian color world. Then in 1955, Habib Saheb went to England and trained at the ‘Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts’ while directing at the ‘Bristol Old Vic Theater School’ for about three years, understanding theater and its nuances and getting to know European theater intimately. He also stayed in Berlin for about 8 months where he saw various plays by Bertolt Brecht.

In 1959, Habib Tanbir founded a theater group called Naya Theater along with his theater wife Monika Mishra and continued to perform plays under the banner of this organization throughout his life. He gave a new dimension to modern theater by using the folk dances, songs, music and folklore of Chhattisgarh for the first time in Hindi plays. He linked theater with social and political concerns and responsibilities, and emphasized drama based on folk traditions, which could be done at very low cost. Due to his early association with the IPTA, he was thoroughly influenced by the Left, which remained till the end, so that the reality in his plays was always more evident. Many a times he had to face criticism, opposition and even attacks from fundamentalists.

For Habib Tanveer, his dose of drama and theater was his home. He staged plays, opened the theater to the common people and ensured the participation of the common people in the theatre. He used the rich tradition of folk art as a medium for his plays. He gave theater a new direction and meaning. It gave a popular and democratic form to the bourgeois theater tradition. He challenged the upper and middle-class tendencies and bourgeois theater of the time closed theaters and gave it a broader context of folk art. Through his theatre, he affirmed the idea that what is local can also be global. His style and plays were seen and appreciated by all audiences.

Most importantly, the folk-loving theater artist Habib Tanveer did not let the ‘folk’ background of his plays get bogged down in the name of experimentalism, but tried to present it in a more meaningful and effective form and he succeeded. To a large extent, Habib Tanveer’s entire theater work is a pioneer in modern dramaturgy, whose efforts we continue to appreciate in the Indian theater tradition. ‘Folk’ is not neglected here, but it is a declaration of the entire folk tradition as well as being the main medium of the entire theatrical performance. That is why Tanveer Saheb’s picture is representative not only of Hindi but of the whole of India, in which we see the faith, aspirations, struggles and dreams of Indians. .

Along with the development and prosperity of Indian theatre, Habib Tanveer also developed indigenous consciousness and language culture. Habibsaheb believed that ‘people’ are at the center of Indian culture and only with the association of ‘people’ can the search for meaningful theater be completed. That is why he reaches the heart of India to get his point across to as many people as possible, saying that “India’s theater tradition is still alive in the villages in its primeval glory and power. They have a deep folk tradition. And the continuation of this tradition is essential for modern theatre.”

Habib Saheb believed that, “We should dig deep into our roots and develop our own style of drama which can properly reflect our particular problems.” Based on this, in almost all his plays, he rejected the preconceived notions of the plays and brought forward the rich traditions and treasures prevalent among the ‘folk’ in the name of modernity to create new experiments and new ideals. Bourgeois color lovers use. The world was neglected. The new experiment and style that Habib Sahab started with ‘Agra Bazar’ and ‘Mitti Ki Gadi’ was perfected in ‘Gaonche Naam Sasural, Mor Naam Jawai’. This folklore-oriented new craft and stage introduction to the audience.

After this, this style of Habibsaheb became famous in the Indian theater world as well as in the international theater world. Be it ‘Agra Bazar’ or ‘Village Name Father-in-Law, Peacock Name Son-in-Law’ or ‘Charandas Chor’ or ‘Hirmachi Amar Kahani’, Shur Kalareen Nain, any presentation, all in their respective times and consistently strived to inculcate the values ​​of the people of India, Efforts are also being made to bring folk artists into the mainstream. Habib Tanveer’s plays were a penetrating blend of contemporary and Indian color tradition. Along with the sense of modernity, debates with the contemporary situation were freely present in his plays.

Lyric music is a feature of Habib Saheb’s plays. In a way it can be said that Habib Saheb created a style in which all forms of drama can be presented on the stage in an effective and elegant manner. His drama songs were very effective for this purpose. Songs from almost all dramas like Agra Bazar’s Charandas Chor, Dekh Rahi Hai Nain, Bahadur Kalin Kamdev Ka Apna, Basant Ritu Ka Sapna, Shajapur Ki Shantibai etc. are examples of this and are still loved even today. The music of Habibsaheb’s plays carried an expressive feature in itself. Such color music is rarely found in the field of Hindi theatre. Habib Saheb understands his responsibility towards the audience, that’s why he is determined to give the audience a taste of total theatre.

He had high hopes for Chhattisgarh after the creation of a separate state, but this unique artist of international renown suffered apathy and neglect in his own city and state. Saddened by neglect and neglect, Habib Tanveer took a sip of blood and fled to Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Over the years, this great theater artist was consistently neglected by the previous governments in Chhattisgarh, but many theater lovers and organizations associated with theater organize various programs in his memory every year. It is also his success that he is creating a special place in the hearts of his fans by becoming an inspiration.

Apart from theatre, Habib Tanveer also left his mark in TV serials and Bollywood films. He was honored with honors like Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Academy. He was a member of the Rajya Sabha in the seventies. He was the second dramatist to become a Rajya Sabha member. Prithvi Raj Kapoor got this honor before him.

In this birth centenary year, many organizations are running various programs on his birthday from September 1. We are proud that he was born in our Raipur. He will always be an inspiration to theater workers and audiences alike.

Vikas Parashram Meshram
[email protected]

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