A new theatre festival in Mumbai is playing out a whole range of historical events.
Jashn-e-Maazi—The Play Of History is a first-of-its-kind festival, with plays following the historical timeline. So, there is a retelling of historical events as well as study of well-known personalities, such as Mahatma Gandhi and the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
The festival, which started on 17 March, has been organized by veteran theatre actor Tom Alter. The plays are in English, Hindi and Urdu.
“I want people to watch these plays not as a stand-alone event but the whole series, and be witness to an entire sweep of world history. My aim is to let people know how key events in history have impacted the world, especially India,” says Alter. He will be portraying some of the personalities, including freedom fighters and writers—right from Bahadur Shah Zafar, Mahatma Gandhi and Maulana Azad to Mirza Ghalib, Rabindranath Tagore, Saadat Hasan Manto and Sahir Ludhianvi.
On 24 March, the spotlight will be on Ghalib, with the staging of a play by the same name. In this enactment, a 70-year-old Ghalib narrates his memoirs to his biographer, Maulana Hali. On Saturday, a tribute to singer K.L. Saigal will feature ghazals, film songs, dadras and thumris. Other plays include Dozakhnama, based on the Bengali novel by the same name that shows Ghalib and Manto talking to each other from beyond the grave; Saahir—a tribute in Urdu to poet lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi through poetry, song and dance; A Memoir Of The Future—an English play on the life and times of renowned psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion; and Yadi—a make-believe scenario in which Gandhi survived his assassination. Alter himself has directed some of the plays being staged.
“All of the plays are historically based on actual characters. However, in a way only Yadi (What if) is about a make-believe scenario where we wonder what would have happened if Gandhi was still alive. The plays have also been designed in chronological order, so that viewers can actually see history progress as they watch the plays,” says Alter.
Jashn-e-Maazi—The Play Of History is on till 2 April, 6pm/9pm, at the YB Chavan Auditorium, General Jangannath Bhosle Road, Nariman Point. Tickets, Rs200, Rs300, Rs500, Rs700 and Rs1,000, and the schedule are available on in.bookmyshow.com