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The great poet Ghalib, part of a long tradition of eclectic liberalism, found Benaras so compelling that he wrote his longest poem on the holy city, 'Chiragh-e-Dair' (Mandir Ka Diya or Lamp in the Temple):
'Ibadat khaana-e-naaqoosian ast,
Hama na Kaaba-e-Hindostan ast.
(Devotees make searing music with conch shells,
This truly is the Kaaba of Hindustan.)
Take Ghalib and his myriad followers out of the equation. Will Hindustan be left with a gaping hole or become something quite new? The Muslim Vanishes, a play by Saeed Naqvi, attempts to answer that question.
Caste, the Hindu-Muslim divide, Pakistan-Kashmir-decibel levels on these subjects are too high, with each side fiercely defending their own narratives for a conversation to take place. What is the way out of this trap?
Razor-sharp, gentle and funny, Saeed Naqvi falls back on a combination of grandma's bedside stories, Aesop's fables and Mullah Nasruddin's feigned foibles to spring an inspired surprise on us. Can it douse the flames?
Saeed Naqvi is a well-known Indian journalist. He covered the 1971 war against Pakistan, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh, the Sri Lankan Civil War, 1971, Sino-Vietnam war, 1979, US bombing of Libya, 1986, the first coup in Fiji, 1987, Nicaragua war, 1989, Operation Desert Storm, 1991, US occupation of Afghanistan, 2002 and Iraq, 2003, and the Syrian civil war, 2011. He has also conducted long-format TV interviews with world statesmen like Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Saddam Hussain, Muammar Qaddafi, Benazir Bhutto, Henry Kissinger, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Hashemi Rafsanjani, Hosni Mubarak and Mahathir Mohammad.
Among the path-breaking works in the field of India's plural culture and the history of Hindustani classical music is his three-part DVD series on the history of Hindustani classical music. He has produced thirty-five short films on India's composite culture, which were considered a landmark. He has authored three books: Reflections of an Indian Muslim (1992), The Last Brahmin Prime Minister (1996) and Being The Other: The Muslim in India (2016).