Vol. 4 Num 287 Fri. March 19, 2004  

Celebrity couple
Khaled and Mita: a couple that complement each other
'The cultural personalities of our country are politicised while the politicians are culturally insensitive'

It was a pleasant spring morning when I went to the Banani residence of singer Mita Haq and theatre personality Khaled Khan. As I stepped inside, I heard the melodious voice of Mita at her daily rewaz. After a short while, Khaled Khan came to the sitting room. Mita joined in the conversation later.

Khaled was brought up in a culture-oriented family where music and theatre were a way of life. He thought of going into acting seriously in 1978 when litterateur Rashid Haidar encouraged him to appear on television. Though Khaled was ready to do a role, he could not do so because he was not enlisted in BTV at that time. But Rashid Haidar kept on prodding him to act and asked Khaled to join the theatre. However, he also told Khaled that he would not get any role in the near future and would have to be content with a trivial job backstage. 'But I was fortunate enough that I did not have to wait too long and got a role within three months,' says Khaled. His first performance on stage was in the drama Dewan Gazir Kissa by the group Nagorik in which he played a replacement role for an absentee artiste.

He also has a fascination for direction. As he says, 'My first direction was a workshop- based job but fortunately it became a regular production of Nagorik later.' Among his directorial ventures are the highly successful Shwapnobaj and the mythical play Kaalshondhya, adapted from Buddhadev Basu's novel. Khaled explained, 'I know many plays adapted from Basu's write-ups have been staged so far but this particular one was never staged before.'

'It is not that all those plays were successful. But the format, story and the characters of Kaalshondhya attracted me and I felt it could be a total theatre. So, I decided to stage the play.' According to Khaled, both acting and directing are very challenging. Keen on playing multi dimensional characters, he goes for diversity all the time.

The conversation veers in a different direction. Talking about his relationship with Mita, who has by now come into the room, Khaled says: 'Our achievement is that we have never stood in the way of each other's success. Theatre combines art forms such as music, dance and recitation. So we share the common ground of music."

Mita and Khaled always have a critical look at each other's performance. As she says, ' I usually watch the rehearsals with great interest. While I might find fault with the pronunciation, projection, appropriate music or even the set, I do appreciate the positive features.' And Khaled? 'I think it is good for the artistes to be criticised because that way they can improve their performances,' he says.

Mita feels that she is making a contribution to our culture, no matter how minuscule. Her guru Wahidul Haq, she says, encouraged her to teach music from the beginning of her career. Shurotirtho, Mita's 12-year-old music school, arranges many programmes countrywide to promote music. She is also involved with the Rabindra Sangeet Parishad, which has about 50 branches countrywide and will hold its 23rd conference this year. This organisation works to promote the performing arts among the children of the remote areas as well as all over the country. Mita says, 'We are trying to make Tagore songs more popular and widespread in rural and suburban areas.'

Talking about the future, Khaled bemoans the politicisation of culture. As he says 'The cultural personalities of our country are politicised while the politicians are culturally insensitive. The state should change this scenario.' Another feature of the present day theatre scenario, he says, is that there is at the most a 15,000-strong audience for a play out of a population of one and a half crore in the city. In his words, 'I know I work in a medium for the select few. Millions of people lack the interest even to go to art exhibitions.'

Mita has a different view. As she points out, 'You are working for the people and the message is reaching them. For instance, nobody even in Kolkata dared to stage the play Kaalshondhya by Buddhadev Basu because they thought it was a complex play.

But you staged that play and they have accepted it.'

Khaled Khan and Mita Haq may disagree on many issues, but as a couple they complement one another perfectly.

Khaled Khan and Mita Haq absorbed in the world of art