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Reachout's  Newsmaker

Babban Khan
The Guinness record holder for the longest running play, Adrak Ke Panje has had over 10,000 shows in more than 27 languages

Besides a mention in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1984 for the longest one-man show, this play has been seen by an estimated three crore people, staged in 60 countries around the globe, 25 cities in USA and 65 cities and towns in India. This has been the first play in the country to be computerised and translated into 27 foreign languages. What's more, this one-man show has run parallel to Dustin Hoffman's in New York and Khan's autographs have appeared in the Washington auditorium along with Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra.


Hyderabad: The one-man show has travelled to over 60 countries in a span of 35 years. But after all these awe-inspiring statistics, Adrak Ke Panje and its creator Babban Khan have decided to ring down the curtains on the play.

Before Adrak Ke Panje happened, Babban was a normal man on the street trying to eke out an existence for himself and his siblings. Adrak Ke Panje got written under the streetlights of Hyderabad in Agapura. In fact his life almost reads like a film story: Here was a man with no money who writes a comedy under the streetlights and then pawns his motherís mangalsutra to rent a hall and put up the play.On September 22, 1965, Adrak Ke Panje was staged for the first time. It was a massive flop,but a good samaritan came backstage later and gave him Rs 500 to continue with the show. The play was a resounding success and won accolades from all.

The story of Adrak is borne out of the story of Babban. His parents were unaware of family planning. The result was that three brothers and four sisters died due to malnutrition and lack of proper medical care. In fact, Babbanís parents refused to name him till he was 10 just in case he died too!. Written way back in 1965, Adrak is based on the theme of family planning. It is in the form of a one-man piece enacted by Babban himself. What makes the play popular was the comic note which transcends all barriers of time and place.

He had to call it day while Adrak was at the peak of its popularity.Incidentally, Adrak had pipped Agatha Christieís Mousetrap and Chorusline in the race for the longest running play. Both plays shut down after 7,000-8,000 shows.

Currently, the 58-year-old Babban is working on another script and is planning a sequel to Adrak Ke Panje. The theme of Adrak Ke Panje 2 will be peace, one of the most pressing needs of the hour. Apparently, novelist Frederick Forsythe watched a show of Adrak in China and encouraged him to write a sequel.

- August'2003

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