A Love Story that Bloomed into a City

Mira Pawar

Mira Pawar

Mira is is an avid traveler and loves writing travelogues.
Mira Pawar

Mira reviews the play, Quli: Dilon Ka Shahjada, unraveling the love story that led to the foundation of Hyderabad. A poet-king’s love for a Devadasi is a part of our cultural heritage and history.

It is essential to appreciate the past if we want to be familiar with the present. History is important to accomplish the required objectives in a mission for acquiring wisdom and virtue. To preserve the culture and history of Hyderabad, Qadir Ali Baig Theatre Foundation (QABTF) has been an essential contributing aspect by staging theatre plays from time to time and keeping the sagas of the past alive.

Every year, as the weather gets pleasant towards the end of the year, theater groups in Hyderabad is abuzz with activities. Recently, QABTF staged a play Quli: Dilon Ka Shahjada, at The Park Hotel, Hyderabad, as part of the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Heritage week. The play was based on the love story of the founder of Hyderabad Quli Qutub Shah and Bhagmati – a Devadasi girl (danseuse), who as per tradition was supposed to devote her life and service to Lord Shiva and the temple.

Quli is believed to have ascended the throne at a tender age of fifteen. Besides possessing the qualities of a successful ruler, he also acquired the skills of a poet, which affirmed the fact that he was a romantic at heart. He composed verses in Persian, Telugu and Urdu. The Daccani dialect prevalent in the region is assumed to have been invented by Quli. The most identifiable symbol of Hyderabad, the Charminar was also built during the reign of Quli.

The love of Quli and Bhagmati concurred when he heard Bhagmati singing bhajans in the temple. He was mesmerised by her voice and the romantic side of him gave way to creating a love story. The play depicted their preordained meeting, thriving love, nikaah, Baghmati’s transition from a danseuse to a consort and her veneration as a queen. It is believed that she proved to be a very caring queen, who placed the well being of her subjects before her.

While Bhagmati’s concern and dedication for her subjects increased, the love of Quli for her also was growing. She worked tirelessly to protect her subjects during the flood that caused havoc and destroyed more than half the city of Bhagyanagar (old name of Hyderabad). Her perseverance and courage compelled Quli to confer the title of Hyder to her and called her Hyder Mahal. Hyder which means brave and courageous is normally the term used for a male but seeing her courage and valor, Quli considered it appropriate to bestow the title to her. Later, Bhagyanagar was named Hyderabad after Hyder Mahal. The literal meaning of Hyderabad is ‘abode of the brave’.

It is also believed that during the flood, the city of Bhagyanagar established on the banks of River Musi, was seized with plague and due to over indulgence in working towards saving the lives of her subjects, Bhagmati fell victim to this plague and lost her life. The story of Quli and Bhagmati was a very well balanced combination of patriotism and love, which has been captured by the Thespian and protagonist Mohd Ali Baig in his play ‘Quli – Diloon Ka Shehzada’.

The play was absolutely spellbinding as it was performed in a narrative form. It was fascinating as to how just two characters on the stage can keep your attention grabbed throughout one-and-a-half hour show. The intensity of acting portrayed by Padmasri Mohd Ali Baig, as Quli, was exceptionally pragmatic and the character of Bhagmati played by Noor Baig was executed to the utmost recreating the glorious moments of history. The costumes for sure had the original royal touch. There was a shadow dance performance, which seemed quite innovative to have been included in a play.

The entry of Quli was a captivating view when all of a sudden he walks through the middle of the audience to the stage and starts to applaud the ongoing performance of a danseuse and when she concludes her performance; he introduces himself to the audience as ‘Quli – the founder of Hyderabad’. During the course of his introduction, at one point, Bhagmati, his beloved, walks in from the back stage and joins in to deliver her dialogues expressing the events of life she had been through. It was totally a unique way to introduce the characters. The play predominantly focused on the rich heritage and history of Hyderabad.

Quli: Dilon ka Shahzada was a tribute to the Legend Qadir Ali Baig of The Qadir Ali Baig Foundation, who envisioned Hyderabad as a theatre-vibrant city.

The play is written by Noor and Mohammad Ali Baig. The Urdu translation is done by Kadir Zaman. The play is conceived, designed and directed by Mohammad Ali Baig. Begum Razia Baig is the producer of the play. This play has also been staged in Europe, US, Canada and Turkey. The European media called it an “Indian Masterpiece” and classified Mohd Ali Baig as a Global face of Hyderabad Theatre. He is also named ‘Sultan of Epics’.

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