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A musical play in Mumbai blends qawwalis and Kathak

Watch a poem by Amir Khusrau morph into contemporary drama on communalism.

mumbai Updated: Mar 09, 2018 22:41 IST
Jayati Bhola
Jayati Bhola
Hindustan Times
Play,Musical plays,Qawwali
Titled Aaj Rang Hai, the play sees an ageing baithak singer use music and poetry to restore peace in her neighbourhood after a Muslim man falls in love with a Hindu woman.
Aaj Rang Hai, a Hindustani musical
  • WHEN: March 10, 7 pm
  • WHERE: NCPA, Nariman Point
  • COST: Ticket prices start at Rs 300; available online

Watch Kathak, qawwalis and Sufism merge on stage this weekend, in a unique Hindustani musical titled Aaj Rang Hai (Today There is Colour).

The play, last staged in the city a year and a half ago, is based on a poem of the same name by the legendary 12th century Sufi poet and scholar Amir Khusrau. The original was dedicated to the Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya — after whom the Nizamuddin area in Delhi is named, home to the popular shrine visited by people of all faiths.

In the poem, rang refers to the noor or light spread by Nizamuddin; in the play, it takes on a more contemporary meaning, one reflecting secularism amid religious differences.

Set in a traditional mohalla or neighbourhod, qawwalis and Kathak are woven into the storyline.

Penned by the late playwright Vijay Naresh and her daughter Purva, Aaj Rang Hai will be staged at the National Centre for the Performing Arts.

The play is set in a traditional mohalla or neighbourhood in Madhya Pradesh, where a Muslim man falls in love with a Hindu woman. An ageing baithak singer becomes the peacemaker, using music and the poetry of Khusrau to counsel her neighbours and unite the lovers.

Qawwalis and Kathak are woven into the storyline. “The songs take the story forward,” says Sharib Hashmi, who plays the Muslim man.

Aaj Rang Hai is directed by Mumbai-based filmmaker and actor Gopal Datt, best known for his TVF (The Viral Fever) videos and web series. Music by Vijay Naresh features strains of soulful Sufi. “There’s the harmonium, dholak, sitar, tabla… it’s as good as attending a qawwali baithak,” Hashmi says.

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 22:22 IST