Saturday, February 24, 2018
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This book could not be termed as a biography.  It is as an honest effort by the author so that his legacy should not just be remembered, but understood and valued.  The book is majorly a study of his theatre, but yes it does have a lot about his life too.  He was a great theatre personality and his commitment to theatre was unmatched.  Tanvir best known for the play Charandas Chor.  Tanvir was the founder of a theatre company called Naya Theatre in Bhopal.  

During his lifetime he won several national and international awards, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1969, Padma Shri in 1983, Kalidas Samman 1990, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1996, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002; apart from that he had also been nominated to become a member of the Upper House of Indian Parliament, the Rajya Sabha from 1972 to 1978.  His play 'Charandas Chor' (Charandas, got him the Fringe Firsts Award at Edinburgh International Drama Festival in 1982, and in 2007, it was credited for an innovative dramaturgy equally impelled by Brecht and folk idioms.

The book could be best described as the first comprehensive study on the life and contribution of Habib Tanvir to Indian theatre history.  Playwright, director, actor, journalist, critic; Tanvir is perhaps best known for the play, Charandas Chor.  However, his real significance in the history of post Independent Indian theatre is that he signposted an important path for the development of modern theatre.  His productions with Naya Theatre using Chhattisgarhi folk actors established how one could do modern theatre integrated with age-old and yet equally contemporary folk culture on a basis of equality.  This book explores various important aspects of Tanvir's theatre philosophy and practice as he experimented with content rather than form.  It also throws light on his early life and work.  Katyal charts his entire professional trajectory from Agra Bazaar to Gaon Ka Naam Sasural, when he was searching for his true form to Charandas Chor, which portrayed the eventual maturing of his style.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Anjum Katyal has been involved with theatre publishing for decades as an editor, writer, translator and critic.  As Chief Editor of Seagull Books, Kolkata, she was responsible for their New Indian Playwrights series, which featured post Independence Indian playwriting in English translation, as well as several theatre studies titles.  She was Editor of Seagull Theatre Quarterly, the only national theatre journal of its time, which focused particularly on the voices of practitioners.  She has translated Habib Tanvir’s Charandas Chor and Hirma ki Amar Kahani as well as Usha Ganguli’s Rudali and stories by Mahasweta Devi and Meera Mukherjee.  She is currently translating Habib Tanvir’s Bahadur Kalarin.  As Editor of Art and the City, a web magazine on the contemporary arts, she has commissioned and edited pieces on contemporary theatre in urban India.

MY TAKE:  This book could only catch your eye if you have a lineage towards art and theater.  The book has been nicely written in a simplified manner narrating the journey of the theater genius.  Even if not an ardent fan of theater, a go through might raise your curiosity level.  If an avid book reader or even an occasional in journey this book would be a worthy pick.



BOOK:  Habib Tanvir: Towards an inclusive theatre.

AUTHOR:  Anjum Katyal.

PUBLISHER:  Sage Publications India

LANGUAGE:  English


PRICE:  Rs. 650

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