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Habib Tanvir

Habib Tanvir
Towards an Inclusive Theatre

First Edition
  • Anjum Katyal - Consultant (Publications), Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies (MAKAIAS), Kolkata and Co-Director, Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival
Critical Acclaim

Other Titles in:
Design | Drama

August 2012 | 248 pages | SAGE India
Anjum Katyal's work is the first comprehensive study on the life and contribution of Habib Tanvir to Indian theatre history. A playwright, director, actor, journalist and critic, Tanvir is perhaps best known for the play Charandas Chor. However, his real significance in the history of post-Independence Indian theatre is that he signposted an important path for the development of modern theatre. His productions with Naya Theatre using Chhattisgarhi folk actors established how one could do modern theatre integrated with age-old-yet equally contemporary-folk culture on a basis of equality.

Habib Tanvir: Towards an Inclusive Theatre explores various important aspects of Tanvir's theatre philosophy and practice as he experimented with both content and form. Starting with his early life and work, Katyal charts his professional trajectory from Agra Bazaar to Gaon Ka Naam Sasural, when he was searching for his true form, to Charandas Chor, which portrayed the eventual maturing of his style, and beyond, to cover his entire oeuvre.


Anuradha Kapur
Introduction: Making Space for the Oral Tradition in Indian Theatre Today

Growing Up in Raipur, and Early Influences

The Bombay Years

New Directions: Delhi and Agra Bazaar

England, Europe and Brecht

Coming Home to Mitti Ki Gadi

Naya Theatre and Other Milestones

Charandas Chor

Working with the Chhattisgarhis

The Classics and Literature

Connecting with the Folk

Music, Song and Dance

The Political Habib Tanvir


List of Plays by Naya Theatre and Habib Tanvir

Awards, Honours and Milestones


An engaging and erudite comprehensive literary biography of Habib Tanvir, the iconic Hindi and Urdu playwright, actor, director, journalist, manager, poet who strode the Indian theatre like a colossus.... Anjum Katyal’s stimulating study explores in great detail the various aspects of Tanvir’s theatre and his sense of purpose that led him in one direction—building an inclusive theatre that would address social issues from a truly Indian point of view.
The Hindu

It’s an ideological justification for the perfect theatrical mix to represent the real India, what she calls ‘inclusive theatre’...Katyal’s writing is easy, the passion for Habib’s work apparent, and for a practitioner or student of theatre the book is interesting, informative and readable. The evolution of a theatrical phenomenon is convincingly documented.

The Pioneer

Richly contextualized and authoritative material on Tanvir and his work is scarce.... Katyal’s book is immensely valuable biography of Habib Tanvir and his free, uncompromised art. 


Anjum Katyal

Anjum Katyal has been the Chief Editor, Seagull Books, Calcutta (1987–2006) and Editor, Seagull Theatre Quarterly (1994–2004), as well as the Web Editor, Saregama-HMV (2006–11) and Editor, Art and the City, a web magazine on the contemporary arts in India (2010–13). As the editorial head of a specialist arts publisher, she was responsible for a broad range of books on art and culture between 1987 and 2006. She is the author of Habib Tanvir: Towards an Inclusive Theatre (SAGE, 2012). She has translated Habib Tanvir’s Charandas Chor and Hirma ki Amar Kahani (The Living Tale of Hirma), as well as Usha Ganguli’s Rudali and stories by Mahasweta... More About Author

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