Students and politics cannot stand apart: Ayatullah Khan


Ayatullah Khan , director and founder of Rangrez Sarokar Theatre productions, Mumbai comes from small village Nua in Jhunjhunu. His play Karl Marx Jaipur Mein is much talked about play, with artists from Jaipur. It will be staged tomorrow (Sunday) at 7:00 pm at Clark’s Amer. A passout from Jamia Millia Islamia University with leftist ideology ingrained in him, Ayatullah talks about the JNU episode and says politics and students cannot stand apart if we are intent on shaping up a sound vision of our great nation. Rajasthan Post’s Iram Tasleem makes him debate on current issues and also gets him to talk about his form of theatre

Why is theatre inspiring for you as a medium?

Theatre is a live medium. It is compilation of all types of performing arts.Theatre is very close to me because it gives me an opportunity to express myself. The two key things are that it fulfils a person’s urge to speak up his mind, to give vent to his feelings and provides solace to a person that his ideas are being perceived by many.

Since you are a Jamia Millia Islamia University pass out, what were your subjects in the university?

I did my graduation from Jamia Millia Islamia University. My subjects were history, economics and political science.

Since Universities have currently become the hotbed of news, especially JNU, what are your views about the entire episode and also should students be indulging in politics in the universities?

Actually it is a very complex issue. It is not only about Kanhaiya Kumar or few other students but it incorporates many underlying issues of various nature. Besides it, there were parallel events which were interrelated with each other like Rohit Vemula’s suicide case. JNU from the beginning has been dominated by Leftist ideology. These recent happenings may be seen as a political attempt to dismantle the dominance of left in JNU. The role played by government and after effects of the whole incident, politicisation of the issues like that there are many aspects linked to this issue.
Absolutely students must participate in politics in universities. Until and unless the youth don’t get involved in politics, how would the vision of the nation come up.The participation of youth in politics often bring the required change in national political outlook of the country.

You have adapted many historical legends in your plays like Birsa Munda, Sadat Hasan Manto, MK Gandhi, Karl Marx to name a few. Why is it so?

Yes, biographies of historical legends have alwasy inspired me a lot. Many of my plays are inspired by biographies of them. Like I myself have written the plays like “Badnam Manto” which is based on Sadat Hasan Manto,”Gandhi Ne Kaha Tha” inspired from M.K Gandhi etc.

Do your plays reflect contemporary politics and their effects, how much of present-day political situations get incorporated in your plays?

Most of my plays are based on political characters and political events. They very much reflect the contemporary political situations and showcase the aftermath of many political events. Through my plays I try to revoke many significant historical and political events which have its impact in present times and still holds relevance. Like one of my plays titled “Gandhi Se Pehle Gandhi’ was based on life and struggle of tribal leader Birsa Munda, which depicts the events in the history of the country with special reference to tribals and its effects in the present scenario.

Rajasthan has different theatre forms as Bhavai, Khayal, Nautanki, Tamasha, Swang but your style is modern and focuses on historical legends. Does Rajasthan or its rich culture find place in any of your plays?

No, not yet but now I am planning to do a workshop with Langa-Manganiyars, Rajasthan’s folk musicians which. It will be an interesting fusion of folk story of Rajasthan with the play of Shakespeare. I will portray their folk art in theatrical form. It is an attempt to give these local artists a platform to exhibit their creativity as well as to give a new dimension to their art.

Your theatre group, Rangrez Sarokar is there from 2010, how would you look at your journey? What has been its high point till now?

It’s been a fantastic journey. I have been doing theatre for the past 14 years. I was born in a small village, Nua of Jhunjhunu. I grew up like any other village boy rearing animals, playing in fields before I was taken to Jamia by my maternal uncle for graduation. I was an empty cup till then. In Jamia I got attracted to theatre which changed my life entirely. I joined Jamia IPTA society, then I did diploma in dramatics from Rajasthan University and went Mumbai. In Mumbai I founded the theatre group Rangrez Sarokar in 2010 and since then we have been staging our plays in different states of the country..

The play ‘Karl Marx Jaipur Mein’ is becoming talking point of the city, what should theatre lovers expect from it ? And how did you get its idea?

See, in Hindi theatre, no work has been done on biography of Karl Marx so far. So it is important for people to know about him. In this play an attempt has been made to showcase various aspects of life of Karl Marx. Personally I have inclination towards left ideology. I am greatly inspired by Karl Marx and read about him a lot. He was a great personality who had endeavoured to bring change in the society through his ideas. He was a person who made people realise the notions of freedom of expression, which have now become a much heated topic of debate. So I wanted to do a play based on him. My friend Gaurav Asri and I researched on him and finally came up with this play.

Which artists have you chosen from Rajasthan or especially Jaipur in your upcoming play ‘Karl Marx Jaipur Mein ?

It is a solo performance Jaipur’s Deepak Mahaan. Proficient guitarists Sahil Hussain and Lakshya Sharma will play music and Siddharth Mahaan will do the lighting.

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