Congress leader Salman Khurshid turns playwright

February 21st, 2008 - 1:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Sharat Pradhan
Lucknow, Feb 21 (IANS) Written by Salman Khurshid and starring Naseeruddin Shah! After two tough stints as president of the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC), Congress leader and former union minister Salman Khurshid has donned a new cap - that of a playwright. And he is hoping to get renowned actor Naseeruddin Shah to act in his “Sons of Babur”.

“I have discussed the play with Naseeruddin Shah and he is already working on it and may play the lead,” Khurshid, a minister of state for external affairs in the government of prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao, told IANS.

The 55-year-old leader has delved into Mughal history and the contribution of various kings to India in his 121-page play, published by Rupa. The Rs.295 hardcover book, released at a book-reading event earlier this week, is written in English and is being translated into Urdu.

The play’s Hindi translation is in the pipeline.

The idea struck Khurshid during one of his retreats at Goa when his father, the late Khurshid Alam Khan, was governor.

Part of his inspiration can also be attributed to his contemporaries at Delhi University’s St Stephens College - Amitav Ghosh and Shashi Tharoor, who are already established writers.

The play commences with a university student going back in time to revisit the founder of the Mughal Empire, Babur. For a guide, he finds an old and infirm Bahadur Shah Zafar who takes him down memory lane.

“Instead of going by chronology, I have tried to pick out those aspects of each of the famous Mughals which throw light on their contribution to India,” Khurshid said.

Asked if the play’s title was provoked by the Hindutva campaign, terming all Muslims as “Babur ki aulad” (the progeny of Babur), Khurshid shot back: “Well it is for them to realise the fallacy and shallowness of their oft repeated sarcasm; the play would also tell them that even Bahadur Shah Zafar was the son of Babur; I wonder if they would still want to underscore what that man felt and did for India - his watan.”

A well-researched work, “Sons of Babur” took seven years to complete. While he had undertaken the task in 2000, he could really devote time to it only after he shed his responsibilities as Uttar Pradesh Congress chief.

“I literally rushed through the play to complete it before the conclusion of the ongoing celebrations to mark the 150 years of the 1857 war of independence - and today it is a great feeling,” he said.

And was he apprehensive about the market response to his first literary output? “Certainly not; anyone who has been head of the Uttar Pradesh Congress would not fear anything,” he quipped.

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