(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 14, 2009
Moments And Memories
S K Pande
MUSIC, poetry, songs,
reflections, moments and
memories –– all combined as
Habib had led a full life, so it was something more than just obituaries. It was indeed a celebration of a theatre colossus, a multifaceted personality, a rare humanist inspired by secularism, love for the masses, and a penchant for grassroot voices.
The function at the Muktadhara
organised by an amalgam of organisations working in unison to bring out
three hours more than eight decades of a theatre thespian, who dabbled
films, loved his theatre and even had a stint in journalism. The organisations responsible for a rare
evening were the Jan Natya Manch, the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, the
Lekhak Sangh and of course the grand (young lady) of
All this in the backdrop of the stills of Habib saab, young, middle aged, old, bubbling with life, ideas depicting his characters from the ‘maulvi’ to the romantic hero, at times in the barricades, at times abroad lecturing on Indian theatre. Just a few months back many of the same artists felicitated him on his 85th birthday.
The memorial meeting began with Dr Brijesh of Jan Natya Manch announcing that “this was not a meeting for mourning.” “Instead, we will sing his songs and read his poetry,” he said. Tanvir’s poetry and songs from his celebrated play Agra Bazar were performed. Murli Manohar Prasad Singh, secretary of the Janwadi Lekhak Sangh termed Tanvir’s death as “the end of an era.” “He was a warrior for secularism. It is our responsibility to carry his message to all corners and continue his struggle.” Similar sentiments were echoed by photographer Ram Rahman who recalled Tanvir’s key role in the formation of Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), after the death of Safdar Hashmi in 1989. “He was at the forefront of the cultural sit-in at Ayodhya in 1993. His commitment towards fighting forces of communalism and casteism was unwavering,” he said. In fact, the title “Ham Sab Ayodhya” for the sit-in at Ayodhya was given by Habib, he revealed.
Asghar Wajahat, who wrote Jis
Long-time friend Zohra Sehgal speaking with pain, anguish and at times a twinkle in her eyes reminiscing the days gone by recalled “He directed me in my first play in the late 1950s. For the world, he was a great artist. Personally, I miss the man more than the artist,” she said.
Artist Satish Sehgal paid a
poetical tribute, with Al
Jawed chipping in as the president of the Progressive Writers
Scientist Professor Yashpal narrated how a scientist like him grew fond
Habib, learnt from his experiences and even lived with him and his
family in Habib’s
younger struggling days in
Present in the gathering was a one time field reporter whose first report ironically was titled: ‘A place for rest’. Habib saab after a late night shift wanted to be dropped at Humayun’s Tomb where it is said he and another artist J Swaminathan argued for a long while, looked at the moon in full bloom and then slept peacefully. Farewell Habib saab.