Monday, June 29, 2009

Habib Tanvir 1923-2009

Indian playwright, director and actor Habib Tanvir died earlier this month at the age of 85.

I've not ben able to find many English language obituaries, but Wikipedia has a reasonable biography.
In his exploratory phase, 1970-73, he broke free from one more theatre restriction, he no longer made the folk artists with whom he had been performing all his plays speak Hindi, and instead switched to Chhattisgarhi, a local language, they were more accustomed to. Later, he even started experimenting with 'Pandavani', a folk singing style from the region and temple rituals, making his plays stand out amidst the backdrop of plays which were still using traditional theatre techniques like blocking movements or fixing lights on paper. Soon spontaneity and improvisation became the hallmark of the new style, where the folk artists were allowed greater freedom of expression.
As this article in ThaiIndian news makes clear, he was a hugley important figure in Indian theatre,

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