HTKGAF 2018: The story of loss and finding yourself

The play retraces Padmashri Mohammad Ali Baig’s life, from his childhood in a Hyderabadi palace to the loss of his father, a renowned thespian

mumbai Updated: Feb 08, 2018 00:50 IST
Aayushi Pratap
Aayushi Pratap
Hindustan Times
Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival,HTKGAF 2018,Padmashri Mohammad Ali Baig
The play Under An Oak Tree being staged at Horniman Circle on Wednesday.(Satyabrata Tripathy/HT)

It was an evening of theatrical magic as the Horniman Circle gardens on Wednesday, as Padmashri Mohammad Ali Baig and his troupe staged Under an Oak Tree as part of the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival.

The play retraces Baig’s life, from his childhood in a Hyderabadi palace to the loss of his father, a renowned thespian, to making it big in the adverting world in Bangalore and returning to theatre and his roots in Hyderabad.

“It was my wife’s idea to structure the play in story-telling format,” Baig said. “Just as an acorn needs to fall far from the oak tree in order to grow, the protagonist of the play also had to move away in order to find his feet, grow and eventually belong.”

As an actor, Baig added, it is a challenge not to cross the line between narrator and protagonist.

In the climax of the play, Baig is told, “The more you run, the more you have to hide. Slow down, listen, just be...” And it is after this that Baig returns home, and to theatre, and wins hearts and accolades.

It was a conclusion that moved and surprised the audience.

“I didn’t know the play was about Baig’s own life,” said Nandu Sirdeshmukh, 53, a retired software engineer from Kandivli. “I had seen him perform earlier in Hyderabad and had fond memories of that performance. When I found out he was performing here, my wife and I decided we had to come.”

Nandu’s wife Shailaja, 50, a retired hospitality executive, added that she was mesmerised by the part where he described the emptiness he felt after he made it big in the advertising world.

“The story of loss and finding yourself after it, is the same everywhere in the world,” a fellow audience member added.

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 00:46 IST