Habib Tanvir

Born in 1923 in Raipur, Madhya Pradesh, Shri Habib Tanvir went to college in Nagpur, and moved to Bombay in 1945 where he worked with the Indian People’s Theatre Association as a writer and actor. He attracted attention with his production of Agra Bazar in 1954 and established the Hindustani Theatre in Delhi with Begum Qudsia Zaidi. The same year he went to England where he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London. He returned to India in 1958 and directed Mitti ki Gadi, an adaptation of Shudrak’s Mrichchakatika, in which he first introduced folk theatre artists from Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh. Starting his group Naya Theatre in 1959, Habib Tanvir began experimenting with traditional theatre styles in his adaptations of other Sanskrit classics like Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshas as well as plays by Shakespeare, Brecht, Moilère, Lorca and Oscar Wilde. His search for a new theatre idiom rooted in Indian soil seeemed to have met its mark in Charan Das Chor (1975), which followed Mor Naam Damad Gaon ka Nam Sasural (1973) and Raja Chamba aur Char Bhai (1974). His later plays like Bahadur Kalarian and Shajapur ki Shanti Bai (1978) established his style firmly in contemporary Indian theatre. His other important productions include his own play Hirma ki Amar Kahani, Dekh Rahe Hain Nain, Gorky’s Enemies, Asghar Wajahat’s Jis Lahore Nahi Dekhya Voh Janmayi Nain. For his contribution to Indian theatre Shri Habib Tanvir is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi.