Invaluable Source of Inspiration

Amanulla Rizayev,
theater critic

The rich spiritual heritage of a person with unique talent, brave commander, great governor, thinker and poet Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur and his descendants throughout several centuries does not cease to fascinate mankind. Invaluable works of Babur, his and his descendants’ life and deeds found their artistic realization in modern literature, music, fine arts, theater, cinema and radio. Many artistic and scientific works dedicated to his poetry and philosophical views take their rightful place in development of world literature, culture, art and science. In this series a special place belongs to the encyclopedic work “Baburname” – the pearl of Babur’s creativity, the architectural complex “Taj Makhal” erected by his descendants and perceived as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. We can say, that in the modern arts there is no direction, which researchers would not address to “Baburname”, or do not seek to open new layers of this work, which, like an invaluable pearl, is a decoration of modern Uzbek theatrical art.
“Baburname” is an invaluable source for the scenic embodiment both on the artistic value, and on the historical contents. Artistic pictorialism, sharp dramatic nature, perfection and brightness of the characters, simplicity and, at the same time, full of sensual richness of language are indeed real source of inspiration for masters of performing arts – playwrights, directors, artists, composers, and, of course, actors.
In fact, for a person of creative profession the aspiration to bring on stage or screen “Baburname” is a natural impulse. But, unfortunately, it should be noted that although in recent years there was a number of works about Babur and the era of the Baburids, there is no serious creative research on this subject in literature and fine arts, in the field of dramaturgy and visual arts. The video “Babur” (director M. Yunusov) shown in the 1980-ies on television went down in history as the viewers favorite series. But in the field of cinema, unfortunately, so far there is no movie dedicated to the life and legacy of Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur. The plays staged (about a dozen) on this theme in theater are only the first step in staging of “Baburname”.
In the second half of last century «Baburname» saw the limelight. So, in the Academic drama theater named after Hamza (nowadays – the Uzbek National Academic Drama Theater) the novel “Yulduzli Tunlar” (“Starlit nights”) was dramatized, and the Uzbek state musical theater named after Mukimi staged the plays “Har kimki vafo qilsa…” (“The one who will be devoted…”) and “Boburshoh” (Baburshakh), the play “Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur” was presented on the stage of the Andijan Theater.
The novel “Starlit nights” by the national writer of Uzbekistan Pirimkul Kadyrov is a new step for the Uzbek theater art in development of «Baburname» and all national classics. According to literary critics, in this novel the author presents also the events stated in “Humoyunname”. P. Kadyrov creatively used stories from such type of sources. This performance staged under the play “Starlit nights” of P. Kadyrov deals with the life of our great ancestor, writer-thinker and statesman Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur. The performance was staged by the director Bakhadyr Yuldashev (1983). The set design and scenic scenery were prepared by the art director of the theater George Brim. A little later B. Yuldashev together with G. Brim dramatized Uygun’s tragedy “Zebunniso”, which embodied the image of a princess from the family of the Baburids – the famous poetess Zebunniso. The both performances on the example of tragic events from the lives of great historic figures Babur and Zebunniso touched upon the subject of war and peace. They especially noted that enmity, strife, contentions and wars between people are the greatest disasters, hurting souls, destroying beauty, separating relatives, destroying bases of state, society and nation. Events of the tragedy are transferred in quasi-metaphorical and romantic form, full of feelings, and using, at the same time, also publicistic details. Scrolls, with the written on them gazelles (lyrics) by golden ornate lettering, cover the entire scene, giving it an amazing charm. Such decoration, as if saving Babur and Zebunniso from bloody fields of war, uplifts them to the world of pure-beauty.
In the play “Starlit nights” the main character – Babur appears at three different ages: twelve-year-old teenager, middle-aged man and old man. B. Yuldashev represents Babur on stage simultaneously at all these ages. The main events of the play take place in participation of Babur at the middle age (Yo. Sa’diyev) and elderly age (Yo. Ahmedov). Many characters involved in crowd scenes also take part in this monumental performance reflecting rapid events in the life of Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur from his ascent on the throne at twelve-year age to his becoming the greatest Shah. Events on the stage are accompanied by songs on Babur’s gazelles. The play is a bold step towards the scenic embodiment of our great ancestor and, at the same time, recognition of his great merits as a thinker.
Regional theaters of Uzbekistan also paid attention to Babur’s image. In 1983, in connection with the 500th anniversary of Babur’s birth, the historical drama “Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur”, created by the director M. Hamidov together with the writer Z. Mukhiddinov, was staged in the Andijan regional theater of musical drama on the basis of “Baburname”. In this musical performance, which revived historical events, the main roles were played by such leading actors of the theater as O. Saydburkhonov (Babur), M. Ubaydullaeva (Kutlug Nigorkhonim), O. Makhmudova (Honzodabegim), S. Hozhiev (Humoyun), and M. Sadykova (Gulbadan). Other characters in the crowd scenes and chorus were played by the members of the creative team of the theater, who truly and plausibly reflected the atmosphere of historical time of the past. Although this play was staged on the basis of “Baburname”, it, unlike the play staged in the Uzbek National Academic Drama Theater, paid more attention to the events connected with the period of Babur’s life in India.
In 1994 the Uzbek Musical Drama Theater named after Mukimi created one more play based on «Baburname». The musical drama “Har kimki vafo qilsa…” (“The one who will be devoted…”), staged under the play by the playwright Haidar Muhammad, is a new step in the way of scenic embodiment of the image of the great Babur.
In 1984 the playwright Haidar Muhammad wrote the work “Bobur Umrining Bir Dovoni” (“One stage of Babur’s life”). For its stage realization the author invited the director H. Apponov, and as a scientific adviser – the drama scientist Mukhsin Kadyrov, who at the first reading of the work expressed the opinion that this subject requires a new interpretation, and on the basis of «Baburname» another version should be created. The director and playwright jointly revised the work and enriched its characters with new events. The plot of the play was included by samples of Babur’s gazelles. Professor M. Kadyrov suggested put in the basis of the play the idea that the goal of Babur was to unify the fractured country and to revive the kingdom of his grandfather – Amir Temur.
During creation of the theatrical performance the authors relied on historical sources. All characters (except Orzubek and Kumribek) are historic figures, which were mentioned in «Baburname» without their excess embellishment and idealization. Language of the play was simple and straightforward.
For the role of the main character of the play “One Stage of Babur’s Life” three actors were selected. In one of the performances Babur’s role was played by the Honored Artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan Nasriddin Rustamov, whose age was suitable for this role. Sincerity, sedateness, and serious relation to the events performed by the actor were characteristic of Babur’s character. N. Rustamov subtly felt, what kind of attitude, in his interpretation, must show his character to the different persons, and how to act in different circumstances. His performance was lively and natural. Performance of arias, mimicry and looks convincingly reflected purity, deep religiosity and greatness of the goal of Babur. Both the appearance and voice timbre of the actor favored it.
Husravshakh, whose role was played by the Honored Artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan Rustam Ma’diev was Babur’s antipode in the play. The haughty governor Husravshakh considered that his state was stronger than Babur’s one, and his troops was more numerous. But eventually he lost the throne and was in distress. The play, through images of these two rulers opposite in the nature and goals, reflected thoughts about power, destiny of people and country.
R. Ma’diev, embodying the image of Husravshakh based on historical facts. From the first moments of appearance on the stage he attracts attention of the viewer trying to convey moral vices and physical defects of his hero brightly and boldly. His appearance, movements, sneers and sarcastic remarks, even the husky voice very accurately convey the shah’s condition, whose days as a ruler and person waned. Unfortunately, now these two talented actors – Nasriddin Rustamov and Rustam Ma’diev are no more with us. But the psychological images created by them, which showed rare talent of their performers, will remain in the history of theater as the brightest ones.
The image of Babur’s mother – Kutluf Nigorkhonim, performed by the Honored Actress of the Republic of Uzbekistan Maryam Ikhtiyorovoy, was perfect. This image was brought by the actress to the degree of a generalized typical image of mother, which incorporated the best features of all mothers. The role of Maskhara played by A. Bekchonov also deserves attention. The actor on the stage plays three roles: in the first act he is Maskhara, in the second – a Spy, and in the last act – he turns into a Shadow. Three guises, three characters, and three different moods – all this is conveyed by the actor skillfully and authentically. The image of the commander Hamzabiy performed by the Honored Artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan T. Beknazarov also remained in the memory of the audience. Besides, such famous actors of Uzbekistan as M. Gafurov, S. Pulatov, F. Akhmedov, and N. Pulatova also participated in this performance. Music for the performance was written by the famous composer and performer Abdukhashim Ismoilov in cooperation with composers S. Haitboev and M. Otazhonov.
The director Habibulla Apponov, who staged the play “Har kimki vafo qilsa…” (“The one who will be devoted…”) carried out serious work with the staff of the theater. He was largely assisted by the artist Anatoliy Zhiboedov, conductor Ergash Toshmatov, choreographer Kadyr Muminov, choirmaster Botir Umidzhonov, and concertmaster Bella Tsepeman to give to this historical drama modern sounding.
In 2002 one more play dedicated to Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur – the musical drama “Boburshakh” by Hurshid Davron saw a limelight in the Theater named after Mukimi. The author of music is the Honored Worker of Culture of Uzbekistan composer B. Lutfullaev, producer – Director Rustam Ma’diev, who played a leading role in the performance “Har kimki vafo qilsa…” (“The one who will be devoted…”) and was an assistant to the production director that helped him with the staging of this performance.
The historical drama “Boburshakh” by Hurshid Davron reflects the events connected with preparation of Babur to fight with the Indian rajah Rano Sango. Hurshid Davron in his work also relied on «Baburname», where Babur’s poems sounded.
During production of the play R. Ma’diev relied on compositional structure of the play. The play consisted of two parts. When the curtain open, stars shine in the dark and shadows of people move. Then torches are lit, the scene is illuminated and the scene of preparation to fight is developed. Baburshakh (Rustam Ma’diev) is on the throne and talked to the historian Hondamir. Hondamir (The Honored Artist of the Republic of Uzbekistan M. Salimov) performs the aria, while leafing through «Baburname». R. Ma’diev very accurately conveys torments of Boburshakh, who drank poison presented by Malika Bayda. Babur on the scene remembers the native Akhsikent, melons grown there and writes continuation of «Baburname» The next scene is dedicated to Baburshakh’s meeting with Malika Bayda. Malika Bayda (the actress G. Rustamova), looking into Babur’s eyes, tells him that she does not regret of her deed and has done it in revenge for the death of her only son Ibragim. Baburshakh (R. Ma’diev) shows generosity and orders his servants to treat Malika Bayda with respect.
The second part of the play begins from the scene of meeting of Baburshakh with his wife Mokhimbegim (the actress – M. Bekchonova). The actress convincingly conveys complex emotions of the heroine, who has learned about diseases of her son Humoyun, as well as her offense and, at the same time, proud temper peculiar to the queen.
The climax of the play is the scene where Baburshakh three times walked around the son Humoyun (A. Latipov) lying unconscious. Addressing with entreaty the god, he asks to take his life instead of the life of his son.
At the end of the play Baburshakh finishes “Baburname”, and then with the help of courtiers puts Humoyun on the throne… Remaining alone, Babur takes in hand «Baburname» and, addressing the audience, says:
And I will leave to you a book about my experiences,
The song of the heart burnt on fire of sufferings…
The day will come when to the country, which I’d like to go back,
My books will return… And then, I am sure,
The hearts eager to learn about the grandfathers’ dreams
Will take it and page through… And I believe,
They will ask God’s mercy to the sufferer,
Delighting my wounded soul…

After these words, uttered by R. Ma’diev, a scroll with the word «Baburname» appears on the background of the scene in accompaniment of the orchestra and chorus…
Turning our eyes on creativity of our great ancestor Zakhiriddin Muhammad Babur, we considered several works staged in our theaters at different times. And although, it has reflected only a small part of the heritage of the great thinker, nevertheless, we hope that these performances has reflected Babur’s talent, suffering and anguish that filled his soul, and will serve as an invaluable lesson for modern descendants of the poet.

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