Bringing dignity to theatre

Bringing dignity to theatre
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Bringing dignity to theatre 

Highlights

After making 450 ad films and documentaries, this Hyderabadi accomplished the task of reviving theatre and playing challenging roles in South Indian films

After making 450 ad films and documentaries, this Hyderabadi accomplished the task of reviving theatre and playing challenging roles in South Indian films. A Padma Shri awardee in 2014 and a recipient of various international honours, Mohammad Ali Baig says he is into theatre by accident and he is an actor by default From an ad filmmaker to a theatre actor, director and playwright and now a film actor, Mohammad Ali Baig has donned many hats in his career and with equal ease.

After making 450 ad films and documentaries, this Hyderabadi accomplished the task of reviving theatre and playing challenging roles in South Indian films. A Padma Shri awardee in 2014 and a recipient of various international honours, Baig says he is into theatre by accident and he is an actor by default.

Grandson of a polo champion Mehmood Ali Baig and son of theatre legend Qadir Ali Baig, he initially stayed away from both as he did not want to dilute their achievements. Coming from a noble family with a privileged childhood, he had no academic pressure. "I had no ambition. Even if you ask me today what your ambition is, I don't know. I am a very staunch believer in destiny. As a Muslims we believe everything is preordained," he told IANS.

Impressed by his designing work, an ad agency offered him a job after he graduated from Osmania University. Moving images attracted him and he was soon into making the ad films. Baig had a feeling that he lost his illustrious father because of theatre and hence he never took interest in the field. "Theatre was stark and intense for me. Frankly it was too boring for me then."

When the government of undivided Andhra Pradesh was commemorating 20th death anniversary of his father in 2004, he realised that can pay the best tribute to him by reviving the theatre. The State government formed Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation and he was chosen to head it. People asked him why he was flogging a dead horse. Fifteen years later, he says, people realized the sincerity of his approach. "They realized when you do something with conviction and the right approach it does succeed and it gets you reward."

Qadir Ali Baig Foundation, the biggest professional theatre repertoire in the country today, conducts a theatre festival for 10 days every year. It gets entries from around the world. According to him, no other privately run theatre festival in the country draws as much crowd as this festival in Hyderabad.

Baig says the revival of theatre is what has given him a sense of fulfillment. He is proud that he is taking Hyderabad's eGanga Jamuni tehzeeb' and India's cosmopolitan culture worldwide. "We have also taken Hyderabad heroes worldwide be it Quli Qutub Shah, Turrebaz Khan, Hayat Bakshi Begum or Osman Ali Pasha. They are the unsung heroes."

"Quli: Dilon-ka-Shehzada', a play on the founder of Hyderabad Quli Qutub Shah was performed at Oxford. e1857: Turrebaz Khan' had the world premiere at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Baig's audience spans 4-5 generations. "Theatre should be a mix of intellectual stimulation as well as meaningful entertainment. You can't give sermons on stage," said Baig who had directed on stage actors like Anupam Kher, Farooque Shaikh, Kabir Bedi and Shabana Azmi.




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