Life in Theatre for Ahsan Syed Mehdi Hasan
Ahsan, Syed Mehdi Hasan based his first play, Dastavez-e-mohabbat or "Testimony of Passion" in the year of 1897, on Mirza Shauq's famous narrative poem, Zahr-e-ishq or Love's Poison. In the same year, he was appointed resident author of Dadabhai Thuthi's Alfred Theatrical Company. His first script for them, Chandravali, modelled on Karimuddin Murad's enormously popular Chitra Bakavali, won him immediate acclaim. By 1905, he had written at least eight highly successful plays, among them adaptations of Shakespeare named Hamlet as Khun-e-nahaq or "Unjustified Murder" in 1898, Romeo and Juliet as Bazm-e-fani or "Fatal Union" in 1898, Merchant of Venice as Dilfarosh or "Merchant of Hearts" in 1900, and Twelfth Night as Bhulbhulaiya i.e. "Comedy of Errors" in 1901 were there. Film historians believe that Sohrab Modi cinematized Khun ka khun or 'Murder for Murder' in 1935 from his hit stage production of Ahsan's Hamlet adaptation.
This theatre personality Syed Mehdi Hasan had a successful but short career. He was a serious and remarkably accomplished writer; he tried to raise the standard of Urdu theatre. However, the scene had become brutally competitive and Ahsan, a proud man with a strong sense of integrity, was unable to make his literary skills subservient to the interests of a thoroughly commercial stage.
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