Hyderabad Theatre : An Evolving Culture That The City Is Embracing

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Deccani Tehzeeb is term well known for the culture of Hyderabad. The local people of Hyderabad have a mixture of Muslim and Hindu tradition due to different dynasties which have ruled Hyderabad. There are two major languages spoken in Hyderabad – Telugu and Urdu. And a local dialect as Hyderabadi Urdu which has a mixture of Deccan. The emphasis on Poetry, Dance and Theatre has always been a part and parcel of its culture since the inception of Hyderabad. The Department of Culture and the Theatre Development Department of Andhra Pradesh Government is putting a lot of efforts to develop the theatre by conducting theatre festival and various programs.

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The theatre is a growing industry in Hyderabad and gaining popularity day by day. Theatre groups like Surabhi, Sutradhar, Samahaara, Udaan, Kissa go, Manthan, Rangadhara etc are paving a lot in making theatre popular within the city by conducting various shows. The theatre group Samahaara which is headed by Ratna Shekhar Reddy has gained a lot of popularity in conducting Theatre workshops. “When we started Samahaara 10 years ago, the theatre was depleting, there were no multilingual theatre groups. People either performed in Hindi, Telugu, English or Urdu, we aimed at starting a theatre group which had variety of all the languages. It took us five years to reach there and other groups are also forming the same now” says Ratna Shekhar Reddy. Samahaara is one of the most active groups in India. It has organized theatre Festivals, The Hyderabad theatre and short film festival and various other competitions which have brought amateur and professional theatre groups in Hyderabad together by improving the quality and scale of the plays. This theatre group has been a boost in the development of theatre culture in Hyderabad.

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The Qadir Ali Baig theatre festival is one of the major theatre festivals in Hyderabad. After Qadir Ali Baig passed away, his son Mohammed Ali Baig, who is a director himself formed a group in the city in 2005 as Qadir Ali Baig Foundation. The group includes eminent personalities of different sectors such as dancer Vani Ganapathy, actors such as Rohini Hattangadi, Suhasini Mani Ratnam and Urmila Matondkar, lyricist Javed Akhtar and director M. S. Sathyu.

In this theatre foundation, new talents are nurtured and trained. This festival has given the best of shows to this city by famous artists like Naseeruddin Shah, Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi etc. Every year Qadir Ali Baig theatre festival is conducted for about a week and this year it is being conducted from 27th October to 6th of November. In the presence of various famous personalities and actors, this year’s theatre features some of the finest plays by Mahesh Bhatt, Pankaj Kapur, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ila Arun, Aanjjan Srivastav, Mohammad Ali Baig, Akash Khurana, Kitu Gidwani, S.M. Azhar Alam, Baharul Islam & more. While talking to the  Anuj Gupta who is a manager to theatre Festival, he said “we are expecting the good amount of crowd this year, the tickets are already being sold in the city and seats are filling up”. This theatre festival has been witness to few mind-boggling performances every year in which popular ones are “Quli Qutub Shah”, “Tana Shah”, “Mahboob-e-Deccan” and “Kohinoor ka Lutera.”

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The cultural space like Lamakaan, which is one of the happening spots of hanging out among the youth is giving an aid in promoting arts, literature, theatre and debates. This place is helping the other smaller theatre groups in Hyderabad to perform in a very minimal amount. It charges only thousand rupees from the organisers per show. The theatre group which faces a financial crisis is supported by Lamakan. Almost every week a play is organised here and houses are being filled by audiences around the city. “Although Lamakaan is a very good place to perform, it is located in a residential area and there are a lot of noises which disturbs an actor on stage” says Avinash Matta, a freelance actor who has performed a many times at the venue.

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With the development in the technology the theatre tickets are being sold online and various sponsors are coming up to promote the theatre culture in Hyderabad. Although Hyderabad is growing in this field, yet it faces problems in the remuneration of Actors involved, the space needed to practice and the good Public relation and advertising company in the promotion of the show. “We practice about three months to perform in a theatre play, but in return we get only 1500 to 2000 Rupees and sometimes we have to work even at free of cost” says Jay Jha who is been performing theatre past 7 years.

While in contradiction the ace theatre director Taher Ali Baig who has studied film-making from Abroad and worked with the famous director like Nagesh Kukunoor says “I am a businessman pretending to be an artist, I Believe in selling my show. I make people happy by delivering them humour and comedy and in return, I earn a lot of money and so does people involve with the production”. He believes, unlike other theatre groups that a good script, publicity and marketing can change the theatre culture in Hyderabad.



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