By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net
Entertaining, enlightening, and informative- these are the few words that best describe the play “Maulana Azad,” where Azad is played by Tom Alter. For two and a half hour, Tom Alter brought alive Maulana Abul Kalam Azad on stage in Boston, Massachusetts. Over a hundred people showed up to watch the play at the eighth annual convention of Federation of Aligarh Alumni Association organized last weekend in a suburb of Boston.
First premiered in 2002, the play is the fruit of painstaking research and hard work of Dr. M. Sayeed Alam who wrote the script of the play as well as directed it. Script is written in Urdu and was a deliberate choice for the Director. Most of us have read Azad in Urdu but very few had the opportunity to hear him have a conversation. This play is an imaginary conversation between Maulana Azad and Humayun Kabir. Maulana dictates what later gets published as “India Wins Freedom.”
During the writing of the book, the conversation digresses to include religion, poetry, literature, politics, and personal life. Sprinkling of Urdu poetry by Maulana or by the narrator behind the scene (performed by Sayeed Alam) and jokes keep the audience entertained providing lighter moments in what is otherwise a long and a reference-rich monologue.
Those who have not read the book “India Wins Freedom” will learn a lot about the history of India during a crucial time in its history. Lesser known but significant events of both pre and post-partition India and Maulana Azad’s take on those incidents are part of this play.
Many know Maulana Azad as the great leader of the freedom struggle but few know that Maulana Azad has a prominent place in Urdu literature. After Ghalib, it is Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad who is known for his letter writing. Some of his letters published in book form as “Ghubaar-e-khaatir” is enough to prove his literary skills. We get a taste of his letters and some of the topics he covered in those letters. This play also let us in the story behind the first ghazal said by the Maulana.
It is difficult to encompass multi-faceted personality of Maulana Azad in one play but to his credit Sayeed Alam manage to do an excellent job of introducing Azad to the uninitiated while also keeping it informative for those who know him well.
Maulana Azad started his public career as a journalist and soon joined politics and India’s freedom struggle. His journalistic life soon came to an end but his frequent days in prison give him time to shine in literature. He is also a well respected Islamic scholar and his book ’Tarjuman-ul-Quran’ which is a commentary on the Holy Book is still widely read.
This play, which has been preformed in many cities in India and abroad since 2002 does justice to Maulana Azad the literary figure and the politician but audience do not much glimpses of his role as a journalist and a prominent religious scholar of his time. This is a slight weakness in overall brilliantly written and performed play.
Tom Alter’s flawless delivery of Urdu keeps this monologue going and an audience consisting of native Urdu speakers glued to their seats for over two hours.
This play has two more performances in the US- Two in Chicago and one in Detroit.
July 25: Chicago
SATURDAY, THE 25TH OF JULY ( DAY TIME )
MEADOWS CLUB, ROLLING MEADOWS, IL
2950 W Golf Road, Rolling Meadows, Illinois-60008 (Venue of IMC 2008 Convention)
CHECK IN AT 12:30 pm ends at 4:00 pm
July 26: Detroit
SUNDAY, THE 26TH OF JULY (CHECK IN AT 4:00 PM)
COSTICK CENTER, FARMINGTON HILLS
28600 ELEVEN MILE RD. FARMINGTON HILLS, MI 48336
call 847-571-0648 or email [email protected]