[WSMDiscuss] [pmarc] Sons of Babur
salmankhurshid1953 at gmail.com
salmankhurshid1953 at gmail.com
Thu Oct 27 07:10:38 CEST 2022
It is time to reconnect concerning *Sons of Babur* before it is too late,
owing to the unpredictability of my political commitments.
It seems just the other day that our friend, the late Tom Alter, was
playing the lead of Bahadur Shah Zafar. Most of the shows were of the Urdu
translation, and Tom made the role immortal. Rarely does a play or a film
elicit such a realistic performance. Tom has been gone almost five years,
having played Zafar for eight years from 2009 to 2017, mostly to packed
audiences and many a time with shows on two consecutive days to cater to
the demand. The opening at the huge FICCI hall also saw full houses on
both the days it was performed. But life moves on, and we will not see
another Tom Alter who put to shame native speakers of Urdu, *Ahl-I Zuban*,
who take great pride in their command of the language.
We have eventually decided to focus on performances
in English as the play was originally in English. The demand for the Urdu
version had so overwhelmed us that we could not stage many English
I wrote the play in English on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the
1857 Uprising. The Urdu translation surpassed the English original mainly
for two reasons: (i) because Urdu and its culture are so central to the
theme of the play revolving on the events of 1857 and Bahadur Shah Zafar;
(ii) an English theatre cast for staging the play regularly in India was
difficult to come by. We, of course, have had English performances of the
play at the NCPA because artistes for the English version were available in
Bombay, but it was not feasible for them to travel around the country. The
most successful performance of the play in English was staged at the JBT at
the NCPA as a joint production of the NCPA and Pierrot's Troupe.
For a long time, several friends have been asking for more English
performances. Finally, we are taking steps to make it possible. There is no
better place than London to launch this. In India, after the first show, we
have had no shortage of sponsors and are expecting the same response in
London. Although not performed in English frequently, it is a well-known
play translated into various languages, including Lithuanian. It is also
part of the Indian English literature curriculum at several Indian
At least half a million people have watched the play at its various
performances. Almost the same number of people watched it as a televised
serial, although the quality was somewhat unsatisfactory. Owing to its
theme, it was a huge success. I am now writing to reconnect with friends
who have watched the play, and even those who could not, for advice
regarding overseas performances. Past performances were coordinated by my
friend, Ather Farouqui, the play's producer and Urdu translator. This
practice will continue though I am always available to respond to friends.
Ather's contact details are email: farouqui at yahoo.com
<email:%20farouqui at yahoo.com>, Cell phone number: 8527914443. The play in
English, Urdu and Hindi was published by Rupa & Company. My friend Saif
Mahmood recorded a conversation on the request of an international
television broadcasting corporation, and towards the end Saif and I read
some portion of the play. Those who have not watched it there, here is the
I hope you will be good enough to help keep this worthwhile
theatrical venture alive, and I look forward to hearing from you.
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