Doyen of Indian theatre, Habib Tanvir, who made Bhopal his home during the later part of his life, seems to have been forgotten by the city within three years of his death. September 1 was the 88th birth anniversary of the world-renowned artiste, but there were simply no words from any quarter on any function to pay tributes to the late genius or any theatre group staging a play to commemorate the occasion. Strangely, Naya Theatre -- Tanvir's novel experiment that brought him world fame -- also forgot to remember its founder on the day. The group is based in Bhopal and run by his daughter Nageen and his disciple Ramchandra Singh.
The state government and multi-art complex Bharat Bhavan, which once fought against its own artistes (whom Tanvir had sacked after he became the director of Bhavan's theatre section 'Rangmandal') up to Supreme Court-level just to honour his decision, also forgot him. There were no functions on behalf of the state culture department to mark the occasion.
Asked what his group did on this occasion, Ramchandra Singh, director of Naya Theatre, merely referred to holding rehearsals of some play and rather talked about his group's future engagements.
Ramchandra said his group on September 6 would be leaving for Delhi, Dehradun, Mussoorie, Saharanpur, Roorkee and Meerut, and will be back on the 16th. He said they were booked again for the shows in Patna and Siwan in October, but didn't refer to anything that his group might have done in the memory of its mentor on the day.
When reminded about it, there was a long pause followed by a drab response that his group remembered him during the day's rehearsals. After dilly-dallying for some time, he said a programme was held in Delhi. But what did Naya Theatre do on the day, there were no answers from the artiste.
Talking to HT, Tanvir's daughter Nageen said: "I was out of station to attend a programme in Delhi and came back late on September 1. We observed Habib Ji's birth anniversary in our own private way. If someone would have organised some programme in his (Tanvir's) remembrance, we would have attended it. Earlier, late Kamla Prasad used to organise a programme in Habib ji's memory. Now Kamla Prasad is no more, so that programme has also been stopped."
Bansi Kaul, renowned theatre personality, reacted in a stoic manner. He said this was happening to other great personalities as well.
"Market-driven economy is changing everything. One should not forget that when Habib's troupe travelled to Delhi or abroad, it was known as a troupe from Madhya Pradesh. He made the state proud, and if he is forgotten by his own state itself, it only indicates a sorry state of affairs in the cultural sphere,” said Kaul.
“Programmes held at Bharat Bhavan are decided by the advisory board. I will put this matter in front of this board and see what could be done in future,” said Bhavan's chief administrative officer Tarun Bhatnagar.