Sometimes, all you want to do is listen, especially when people take a trip down memory lane recollecting fascinating stories about their lives. Here’s one such person. Meet Aamir Raza Husain, one of India’s most prominent theatre actors.
“I have fulfilled all my dreams. Every President and Prime Minister, except Deve Gowda, has seen my plays in the past 20 years. I have achieved more than what I thought I would achieve when I began acting,” Aamir Raza Husain says, hinting at all the things he has achieved in his 40-year acting career. He has been acting since the age of 14 and so far, he has performed in more than 5,000 shows and directed scores of productions.
He’s currently in Hyderabad to stage his play Murder, which he says is a gripping thriller about a man who’s planning a murder. His wife, Virat Husain, has been co-directing and writing several plays along with him. Most of his plays so far boast of lavish sets and he has even gone a step ahead and directed large outdoor productions like The Fifty Day War. How did this penchant to create such lavish sets begin? “He’s a lot into historical stuff and knows a great deal about our heritage and culture. Perhaps that’s where the inspiration to create such huge sets comes from,” Virat says. Aamir nods in agreement. “I was born in Lucknow and then studied in Mayo College in Ajmer. Later, I majored in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi. I think all that had an impact on my conscience and made me the person I am today.
As far as building such huge sets goes, today, I am competing with Rs 200-crore worth films. When someone can watch Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and hundreds of serials on their TV for free, why would he want to come and watch my play? Everything I do has to be worth every penny that the person would pay to buy the ticket.”
Aamir is happy that people are finally talking about theatre. “There’s a lot more awareness now and pretty soon, it’s going to be an industry of its own,” he says. However, there’s a certain tinge of sadness when he thinks about the stories which are being told these days and the audience as well. “People have become more contemporary, crass and insensitive. I have grown up in a different culture, time and environment which I loved. It has changed now. I had a lot of friends and patrons who watched my shows with great commitment. In fact, Raj Kumar, after watching Legend of Ram, told a TV channel that no one can ever copy my play. It’s been more than 15 years since he said that and it still holds true. I miss people like Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt and Raj Kumar. I am dedicating this play (Murder) to Rajesh Khanna,” he says. Aamir is blunt about his opinions and has no qualms speaking his heart out. “Youngsters these days respond well when it comes to watching a play, but I have a problem getting a cast. People have lazy speech today. I can’t reproduce that on stage. I have to teach them how to speak well before I teach them how to act. That’s very boring for me,” he says.
He has fond memories about how he staged The Fifty Day War, which was based on the Kargil War. “My wife’s father is a retired army general. Back then, we decided to cheer up the soldiers who were being treated at a hospital in Delhi. When they wanted to meet some film actors, I asked Pramod Mahajan, the then I & B Minister, who flew in 14 celebrities like Salman Khan, Raveena Tandon, Javed Jafri and Javed Akthar.
Later, we all flew to Srinagar and Kargil to meet the troops. My wife wanted to make a documentary on the war and that’s when I realized that we could stage a huge play from the footage we had. It was a huge hit. Right from Pramod Mahajan to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, everyone saw the play and were in tears,” Aamir recalls with great fervor. So what keeps him going even today? “It’s the applause I get from the audience. You know, I feel old when I am not on stage,” he signs off.
Murder by Aamir Raza Husain and Virat Husain
Venue: Crystal Ballroom, Fortune Select Manohar, Begumpet
Time: 6pm onwards
Entry by invitation only
About the Author (Author Profile)
Hemanth writes primarily about Telugu cinema, although he finds inspiration from the works of filmmakers like Woody Allen. Apart from writing, he spends most of his time on Twitter discussing about cinema, travel and life in Hyderabad.