World Theatre Day: Celebrating liberation of ideologies through art

“Theatre breaks all the boundaries and it is the celebration of life, the expression of an artist.”

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Some might say that theatre is commercial, exaggeration, fiction but in reality, it is liberating. Theatre is the reflection of our society and a tool to bring about a change, be it social, political or cultural. Theatre is an art with which an individual can achieve the highest level to understand and explore human emotions, ideas, and ideologies. 

This World Theatre Day, Mumbai Live spoke to a young theatre artist, Shahab Ali

Ali is a National School of Drama (NSD) graduate and has been a theatre practitioner for almost eight years now. He is the lead in two very famous musical Broadways – Zangoora and Mughal-e-Azam by Feroz Abbas Khan. 




Evolution and Versatility of Theatre in India

While talking to Shahab Ali about the evolution and versatility of theatre, this is what he had to say

“Theatre has been continuously evolving since the day Thespis performed for the first time in Greece.”

“In today’s time, we have various kinds of plays and performances being performed all around the world – from classical plays to experimental performance – it amazes me.” He says that the exposure of international theatre is possible for artists in India through festivals like Bharangam and theatre Olympics, thanks to institutions like NSD.

Talking about the plays being commercial, he informed that it is all about priority. “For some artists, the audience is the priority so they indulge in commercial theatre, for some self-satisfaction is the way, and others are inclined towards exploring the artistic element.”


The relevance of Theatre in India

When asked about the relevance of theatre in this country, Shahab said that theatre still holds a special place in people’s heart despite the fact that Bollywood movies have dominance over people’s mind. Bollywood films restrict themselves but theatre breaks all the boundaries and it explores every dimension and aspect of life and beyond.

“An artist can perform without set, costume, property, and people will watch it. That's why it can never lose its relevance,” Shahab argues.


Theatre as a tool to bring in Social Change

There have been many artists in this country and abroad who have tried to shape theatre in such a way that it questions the evils in our society. The rise of dissent in this country through art has been very prominent. Shahab talks about theatre and its relevance to bring social change.

“Theatre being a 'live form' can affect people directly. It will make you ponder, introspect, and criticise, which is very important for the betterment of humanity.” Shahab believes that with theatre, one can take risk of speaking the harsh truth.

“There have been many practitioners, who made great pieces of art which affected people in a great way such as Safdar Hashmi, Habib Tanveer, Badal Sarkar and the list goes on,” he remembers.

Shahab stated that every social or political movement in this country had a theatrical touch. A recent example of the same is Anna Hazare and Kejriwal’s movement against corruption, it united the entire nation, he added.

“Theatre has a huge potential to bring in social change. It can change your life as it has changed mine and I am lucky to be a part of the world of theatre.”

Also Read: 7 Plays That You Could Watch In Mumbai This April



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