She was one of the talented actors and directors groomed by none other than the famed Abraham Alkazi in the 1970s in the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and is known today as a theatre veteran who has to her credit a long and creative journey on stage.
Nadira Zaheer Babbar (67) was born to the well-known communist intellectual, Sajjad Zaheer and Urdu writer Razia Zaheer, activists of the Progressive Writers Association. Her growing years found her in the midst of the best literary and cultural talent of the times. Founder of the Ejukte Theatre Group, she has staged scores of plays and directed actors like Raj Babbar, Satish Kaushik and Kirron Kher.
In the city on the invitation of the North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC) on Friday to stage her latest play that she has penned herself, ‘Jaise Sookhe Phool Kitaabon Mein Milein’, Nadira says, “It was a decade and a half ago that I turned to writing my own plays because I felt that many contemporary issues needed to be addressed. I took the name of this play from a couplet by Urdu poet Ahmad Faraz. The play is about our linguistic heritage for we are in sad times when we are even ashamed of speaking in Hindi, Urdu or say Marathi because it is English-Vinglish all the way. So this play is dedicated to our languages and literature.”
Earlier, Nadira had written and directed the widely appreciated play ‘Bombay Meri Jaan’, which told the stories of young folks who come to struggle and make it in the ruthless and competitive world of the metropolis. Other plays that she has written and directed include ‘Dayashankar Ki Diary’, ‘Sakku Bai’, ‘Suman Aur Sana’ and ‘Ji Jaisi Aapki Marzi’. Nadira met Raj Babbar in her Delhi days and they have two children, upcoming actor Arya Babbar and Juhi Babbar, a fashion designer. A woman who has known love and loss in her life, Nadira has great generosity of soul. Raj left her to marry the famous actor Smita Patil in the early 1980s but she forgave it all and went on record to say she was sad that Smita could not fulfil her dreams and wishes. Coming from Nadira, these are not hollow words.
Talking of the city audience, she says, “Chandigarh has the best audience and I have always loved bringing my plays here.” The play was staged at Patiala and now moves onto Jalandhar, Bathinda and Shimla.