February 14, 2020
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Habib Tanvir

The doyen of Indian theatre deserts Delhi to seek solace in Bhopal

Habib Tanvir
Why are you leaving Delhi? Is it the decadent air or the decadent theatre?
Neither. It's just that I have lost hope of ever finding accommodation for myself and my actors. At least Bhopal will solve that problem.

What bugs you most about Delhi's theaterati?
Nothing really, though I have my reservations which I would prefer to keep to myself.

What do you like most about the Delhi theatre?
Well, it's vibrant and it has a crop of talented, dedicated actors.

Won't you miss it?
Of course, I will. But I will miss my friends more.

Is meaningful Hindi theatre being performed by NSD and other repertories?
Not as much as one would wish. But different people have different conceptions of what constitutes meaningful. I won't like to get into that.

Why is there such a paucity of good regional Hindi playwrights in the country?
I don't know. I guess it's to do with the general decline of cultural traditions. But there are some good playwrights who pop up once in while. For instance, Swadeep Deepak's Court Martial was an excellent play.

In what way would Bhopal make a difference? And why Bhopal?
Well, I will be far busier there. Besides being director of Rangmandal, I'm also chairman of the Gyan Vigyan Saksharta Abhiyan and the Adivasi Lok Kala Parishad, all of which are based in Bhopal.

What kind of theatre would you like to do now?
I still don't know. But I will be exploring oral traditions of folk theatre much more intensely.

Have you ever been tempted by films?
Why, I began my career with films but I feel more at home with theatre. But if a good film comes along, I will love to do it.

What's missing here that you hope to find in Bhopal?
Cleaner air, fewer people!

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