Theatre man : Habib Tanvir
New Delhi/Bhopal, June 8
World-renowned theatre personality Habib Tanvir (86) passed away here on Monday. He is survived by his daughter Nagina. The funeral is scheduled for Tuesday noon.
Tanvir was being treated for asthma and a range of related ailments in a Bhopal hospital for the last three weeks. His condition turned critical yesterday and he breathed his last today.
Born in Raipur (now in Chhattisgarh), Tanvir was educated in the Aligarh and Nagpur Universities. Tanvir, along with Sahir Ludhianavi, Kaifi Azmi, Ali Sardar Jafri, Balraj Sahni and Sadat Hasan Manto was a part of a galaxy of extremely talented and equally committed artistes. He helped found Indian People’s theatre (IPTA).
He produced outstanding dramas in Chhattisgarhi dialect and his “Naya Theatre” tapped the talent of ordinary people- rickshawpullers, panwallahs and small shopkeepers.
Whether it be “Mitti ki gadi”, “Charandas Chor” or “Agra bazaar”-his theatre productions almost always carried a message. Tanvir’s contemporaries and colleagues in the Capital remembered the ‘true renaissance personality’ with fond memories and sad countenance.
Moloyashree Hashmi, noted theatre actress and wife of co-founder of Jana Natya Manch (Janam) Safdar Hashmi, termed Habib Tanvir as the last of the generation of actor-manager. “Habib is a legend in the league of Prithviraj Chauhan, Shishir Bhaduri and Utpal Dutt. He was last in the generation of actor-manager. He not only acted, wrote scripts and directed plays, but also managed affairs of his Naya Theatre Company from production to paying salaries. His demise has brought an end to this kind of acting,” she said. Her association with Habib began in 1980 when he directed the play Moti Ram ka Satyagraha for Janam on the request of Safdar Hashmi.
DR Ankur, former director of the National School of Drama (NSD), recalls a play they had performed in 1970’s in Chattisgarh where protagonists Ram, Laxman and other characters from Ramayana were asked to put on heavy moustaches and beards by Habib. However, the locals with images of clean shaven gods could not digest Ram with beard and objected to it. “When the audience objected to the beard and moustache on Ram, Habib came up with a very witty answer. He told the audience that a man who had been staying in jungle for last 14 years without barber is bound to have moustaches and beard. Only now that Ram is going back to Ayodhya will they be able to shave. People were left in thralls,” said Ankur.
For Hema Singh, associate professor (acting), NSD, recalls Habib puffing pipe and she often telling him of its bad effects. Hema says Habib was never punctual. She narrates one such incident when she like always she reached the venue of practice on time while Habib was late.