Celebrating her 25th year in theatre production, Nadira Babbar is now directing a play on the life of celebrated artist M F Hussain. It is said to be Hussain's wish to have the play made during his lifetime. After the recent controversy over his nude paintings of Mother India, the title of the play was changed from Maqbool Se Fida Tak to Pencil Se Brush Tak.
"The play gives an insight into his early days in Pandharpur, in Indore, his schooling in Baroda, romance with the brush, his women, marriage, Indianness, ethos, and his move to Mumbai," says Babbar.
Hussain's recent nude painting of Mother India had created a lot of tension, but it wasn't the first time for the 92-year old.
Four people play Maqbool, depicting the various stages of his life. The youngest is played by child actor Prannoy Katri. Pavan Uttam depicts life from childhood to his teenage years, Sushant Singh plays the years between adolescence and mid-life, while the present day Hussain is played by theatre veteran Tom Alter.
"The play talks about Hussain's life. It speaks of how he has kept the child, the young and the old man alive within him even today. It talks about the restless, surrealistic, carefree Hussain going through various phases of his life, still exploring, experimenting," says Alter.
Hussain, who has not been in the country since the last controversy, is expected to attend the show. Tickets are available at Mumbai's Prithvi Theatre, in Juhu, for April 15 and 16, with shows at 6 pm and 9 pm.
Text: Priyanka Jain | Photographs: Uttam Ghosh