Country mourns death of theatre legend Habib Tanvir (Lead)

June 8th, 2009 - 9:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi New Delhi/Bhopal, June 8 (IANS) Indian theatre Monday lost one of its tallest heroes Habib Tanvir, who passed away after a month-long illness at a private hospital in Bhopal. He was 85. His family was with him at the time of his death.
Tanvir died at about 6.30 a.m. at the National Hospital in Bhopal, where he had been admitted about 20 days ago after developing respiratory problems.

Hospital sources said the playwright suffered kidney failure and his condition worsened. The funeral will be held in Bhopal Tuesday, his family said.

The popular Hindi playwright, theatre director, poet and actor, had written plays like “Agra Bazar” (1954) and “Charandas Chor” (1975). In 1959, he founded a theatre company called the Naya Theatre in Bhopal. He was born in Chhattisgarh in 1923.

He was known for his people-oriented plays drawn from the folk traditions of India.

He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1969, Padma Shri in 1983, Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 1996, and the Padma Bhushan in 2002. Tanvir was also nominated as a member of the Rajya Sabha (1972-1978).

His play “Charandas Chor” got him the Fringe Firsts Award at the Edinburgh International Drama Festival in 1982.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit described Tanvir as one of the most popular Hindi playwrights. She spoke to Tanvir’s daughter to convey her personal condolences and expressed her grief.

Dikshit said the country has lost a “legend” with the demise of Tanvir.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi condoled Tanvir’s death and appreciated his contribution to the field of theatre.

The National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital mourned Tanvir’s death at a 45-minute “commemorative” service where students and members of the NSD’s Repertoire Company and school’s Theatre in Education Company recalled their impressions of Tanvir’s plays. For most students, “Habib saab” was an example in whose footsteps they would like to walk someday

Veteran stage personality Sohag Sen said Tanvir was one of the rare directors who believed in “total theatre that made use of the stage, folk dances, physical acting, music and even silences”.

“He used the stage like magic and inducted even unlettered people from the villages in his cast. The Chhattisgarhi language was no barrier for his theatre was so communicative,” Sen recalled.

Mumbai-based stage and screen actor Manoj Verma, who was part of the cast of Tanvir’s watershed play “Agra Bazar”, said Tanvir was one of those few people who knew the difference between professional and amateur theatre.”

Theatre activist and writer Sudhanva Deshpande of Jan Natya Manch, who was associated with Tanvir for a long time, said the playwright represented the “best aspects of forward looking and secular India”.

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