New Delhi: Long before India was swept off its feet by big-screen spectacles like ‘Baahubali’, ‘RRR’ and the upcoming ‘Aadipurush’, Aamir Raza Hussain was a creative powerhouse who gave us a mega theatrical First hand experience. The production in The Fifty Day War, which was not repeated in scale or perspective at any stage until the year 2000.
On Saturday, June 3, Hussain, 66, passed away leaving behind a legacy of memorable stage productions.
He is survived by his wife and creative partner, Virat Talwar, whom he met when she was a student at Lady Sri Ram College and came to audition for a play (‘Dangerous Liaison’), and their two sons.
If ‘The Fifty Day War’ told the story of Kargil on a scale that had not been attempted on an Indian stage with an original Indian script (Alic Padmasi did Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ did something similar with (but again, it was not an original production), ‘The Legend of Ram’, which aired on a small scale in 1994, when it was relaunched in 2004, the theatrical Became the gold standard for glasses.
The production of ‘The Legend of Ram’ involved 19 outdoor sets spread over three acres and a cast of 35 actors playing various characters from the epic and a 100-member technical team. The last show was performed on 1 May 2004 in front of the then President APJ Abdul Kalam.
Hussain was born on January 6, 1957 in an aristocratic Awadhi family. His parents were divorced – his father, who is rarely seen, was an engineer at Bechtel and founded the Mecca-Medina Water Works – so he was raised by his mother and her family – During the days of British rule, he presided over a small princely state called Pirpur.
He went to Mayo College, Ajmer, and after completing his schooling, studied history at St. Stephen’s College, where he acted in several college plays under the direction of greats like Joe Michael, Barry John and Marcus Murch. This was the beginning of a career devoted to English theater and his company, Stagedoor Productions, which from 1974 was known for bringing ordinary theater into the realm of the spectacular.
Hussain appeared in two films – ‘Kim’ (1984), based on Rudyard Kipling’s novel, starring Peter O’Toole, and Shashank Ghosh’s romantic comedy-drama, ‘Khubsurat’ (2014), starring Sonam Kapoor and Fawad were. Khan – But she was married to theatre.
Over the years he produced several plays staged in outdoor locations – ‘Sare Jahan Se Achcha’, ‘1947 Live’ and ‘Satyamev Jayate’, which was staged in 1999 against the backdrop of the 14th-century Hauz Khas monument in Delhi. was
Earlier in 1998, Hussain and his group, in association with Delhi Tourism, organized the 14th Ka Chand festival in Chandni Chowk, 2 km between the Red Fort and Fatehpuri Masjid, now celebrated as Delhi-6. .
With 91 productions and over 1,100 performances under his belt, and awarded the Padma Shri in 2001, Hussain spent his last years developing Qila next to Select Citywalk Mall in South Delhi’s historic Saket neighborhood.
Like all things with Hussain’s stamp, Qila has emerged as a co-working space where corporate and creative souls work under one roof to hatch business ideas or the next big theater production.
Unfortunately for Hussain, as he lamented in a recent interview, theater remains a hobby, or at best a second profession in India, but fortunately, thanks to the efforts of pioneers like him, it is no different. is not mired in poverty. Far from it, it has become the nursery of the best and brightest in cinema.