Main Rahi Masoom, on the life of late Rahi Masoom Raza, will be performed on November 14 in Hyderabad

Timeless show
From the play
From the play

The monologue Main Rahi Masoom, on the life and times of late Rahi Masoom Raza, directed by Bhasker Shewalkar and enacted by thespian Vinay Varma, is to be performed for the 62nd time and is refusing to go out of fashion. The classic performance is yet again to enthral the audiences on November 14 at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) university, Hyderabad — the sole performer Vinay Verma speaks to CE about a feeling (the play) that is to last.

The play has been showcased in every possible known venue and city across India, including two shows in London. “Words fall short to express the ecstasy when asked to perform, as it is about a staunch nationalist whom many have met, seen and heard in person. So the challenge becomes all the more challenging as I have neither seen the man nor heard him, ever,” says Vinay Verma.

Wherever Vinay performed, the show was much appreciated. It was termed ‘uncanny’ by Javed Akhtar after he saw the show at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. “There were many who couldn’t hold back tears at the poignancy of the script as the performance ends. Many watched the performance several times and still discovered something new each time. The biggest takeaway for a whole lot was that they said they would stop thinking in regional terms and be only a true Hindustani,” Vinay shares.

This is one of the plays that refuses to go out of fashion; asked what is the key ingredient that makes it such? Is it the story or the actor? Or both? Or solely the connect with the audience?, Vinay responds, “It’s the script. That’s the basic resource material for an actor and since I’ve compiled the script (registered with the Screenwriters Association, Mumbai) from various sources, mainly the 519-page journal Abhinav Kadam, dedicated to his 75th anniversary, and with inputs from his family, it started seeping in during the writing stage.”  

Having never seen the man, the written word, the sarcasm behind his writings, he taking head-on with the fundamentalists on both sides of the divide, his unceremonious exit from Aligarh Muslim University, the filmi journey and his ‘vaseeyat’ of being laid in the lap of Ganga Maa, whom he called his second mother — all these thoughts have been put so beautifully in words that they needed a voice. “Giving life to the written word is an actor’s job, and going by the feedback received from audiences from the age group of 10-90, I seem to have hit the right chord. And how can Indianness or Hindustaniyat ever go out of fashion?,” he asks.

“As I keep doing each show, it looks like it’s getting more relevant than ever. The thoughts are hence immortal, and as the country keeps progressing, the thoughts will keep reverberating. The instant connection with the audience is established when he talks of the sense of belonging, the freedom of expression, the use of cuss words in his novels, promptings ban, and the futility of partition,” Vinay believes.

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