Hyderabad’s first iconic one-man show, Adrak Ke Panje by Babban Khan broke into the record book for his world-famous satirical play in 1984. For someone whose epic one-man comedy show ‘Adrak Ke Panje’ became a rousing hit across the globe and earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records in 1984 edition of UK, 75-year-old Babban Khan remains a humble man.
The world-wide fame that the playwright-actor earned sits lightly on his fragile frame as he walks into The Hindu office with wife Shaila to mark 35 years of his Guinness entry.
35 years, 60 countries
The bespectacled gentleman, whose one-act play with him in the lead brought the house down wherever it was staged, — mind you, the show travelled to 60 countries in a span of 35 years — is reticent now. While the Guinness entry was made after he notched up 5,169 performances of his two-and-a-half hour show on September 22, 1983, he went on to perform and completed 10,000 shows before bringing the curtains down.
Babban Khan fondly recollects how Hollywood stars and eminent personalities across the world enjoyed his show.
For the benefit of the generation that did not have the privilege of seeing him perform live, Mr. Khan was born into a poor family with several siblings and lost them to malnourishment.
He scripted the comedy show under a street light in 1965. The play, which had an universal appeal, chose the crucial issue of family planning in a lighter vein.
The character that brought him phenomenal reputation for several decades was a man saddled with the burden of feeding a dozen children and coping with an ill-tempered wife.
Among celebrities who enjoyed his show and complimented him included actor Rex Harrison who produced the play ‘My Fair Lady’, director Francis Ford Cuppola, author Frederick Forsyth, former South African president and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela and Ghanaian diplomat Kofi Annan.
He has in his collection hundreds of congratulatory messages from famous personalities including one from 10 Downing Street (private secretary of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher) and a citation from Britain’s Queen Elizabeth.
Ironically, the first time the play was staged, he had to pawn his mother’s gold chain to raise money to pay for the hall. Gradually, it became popular bringing him fame and money as well as international recognition.
The one-act play was never changed through its over 10,000 performances. #KhabarLive