“Humko maalum hai jannat ki haqiqat lekin, Dil ko khush rakhne ko ‘Ghalib’ ye khayal acha hai.” Any ardent follower of Urdu shayari will surely have heard of Mirza Ghalib. In the year of his 220th birth anniversary, a musical narrative celebrating the life and writings of the prominent poet was organised in the city on Sunday. Joining the celebrations was another name who has been associated with the poet for a very long time — renowned theatre personality, Salim Arif, who was in the city to recite Ghalib’s letters and share some interesting anecdotes.
Elaborating on the collaboration, Salim, an alumnus of the National School of Drama, an actor, designer and director par excellence, says, “I have been an avid fan of Ghalib sahab since I was a child. His works used to prod me to go deeper into the human psyche. Both he and his works have lived with me for over 30 years now and I am really proud to be associated with it.”
Talking about Ghalib’s letters, Salim says, “When I had started reading Mirza Ghalib’s letters, for me the whole world turned upside down. I got to know so much about him and life, leading to a deeper understanding of things. My whole perception changed then on. It was really nice to read the letters on stage and relive every moment with Ghalib.”
Further, “The recitations of the letters and anecdotes interspersed with Ghalib’s ghazals sung by Tauseef Akhtar on stage are the perfect way to celebrate the master. We are working on a new set of ghazals. Tauseef will sing the ghazals keeping in mind today’s generation’s point of view,” says Salim.
Notably, Salim has been a part of Shyam Benegal’s Bharat Ek Khoj, Gulzar’s Mirza Ghalib and Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s Chanakya, which got him international recognition as a costume designer for period films and shows.
Some of his other projects as a costume designer are Nirja Guleri’s Chandrakanta, Ketan Mehta’s Sardar Patel, Gulzar’s Maachis and Hu Tu Tu, Govind Nihalani’s Thakshak and Anil Sharma’s Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo. He has also been a consultant for period films like Anil Sharma’s Gadar and Mani Ratnam’s Guru.
Beside films, Salim’s contribution to theatre is also immense. He has staged many plays on innovative themes and some of his works include Taj Mahal Ka Tender, Kaifi Saab, Bayaane Ghalib, Rakt Kalyan and Kachche Lamhe — making him one of the most exciting and popular directors of Hindi theatre in India.
Talking about the theatre scenario in Hyderabad, Salim points out that the city has undoubtedly evolved in terms of content and production but has a long way to go. “I have performed in Hyderabad before and I love the energy that the audience bring to the stage. But when it comes to quality production, I feel there’s more potential for improvement in modern Telugu and Urdu productions. I believe in a few years’ time, Hyderabad will come out as a strong hub for theatre,” says Salim....