The Final Salute by Mahesh Bhatt serves as a reminder of the significance of artists in influencing public opinion

The Final Salute by Mahesh Bhatt serves as a reminder of the significance of artists in influencing public opinion

It's a complete circle for "The Last Salute," according to director Mahesh Bhatt, who recalls how they were inspired to adapt the stage adaptation of Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-narrative Zaidi's of throwing a shoe at US president George W Bush in the early 2000s.

The Indian play that was inspired by Zaidi's novel, which was titled "The Final Salute to President Bush," also had the same name, with Bhatt presenting the stage performance. Rajesh Kumar's book about their play now contains a foreword written by the director.

The director recalled how the initial inspiration for the piece came from his decision to decline Bush's invitation to the 51st National Prayer Breakfast in 2003.

Imran Zahid, a protégé of Bhatt's, inspired him to adapt "The Final Salute" by al Zaidi into a play. Zahid performed in the play, which Arvind Gaur, a veteran of Delhi theater, directed and Kumar wrote the screenplay for.

"My involvement in the realm of amateur theater allowed me to stay in touch with the pulse of the country, where the people truly breathe, aspirate, and dream. It led me to Delhi, where I met Imran Zahid, one of my most beloved proteges, and Arvind Gaur "Bhatt said in an interview with PTI. "When you were invited to the prayer breakfast gathering in 2003, Mr. Zahid told me, "Bhatt Sahab, you sent a letter when you were invited that reflected a same attitude" as Muntadhar's shoe-throwing event." This performance serves as a timely reminder of the role that artists have in influencing the general populace. A journey that started as a book transitioned into a play before returning to its original book form. It is a journey's cycle, "Added he.

The Final Salute, which Bhatt, 74, says he performed all throughout the nation, was a piece that could only be performed in India. Since our founding fathers gave us the right to voice our opposing ideas, only India is able to stage a play of this kind, he said.

Yet there were difficulties along the way.

To perform the piece in front of al-Zaidi, Gaur's theater company and Bhatt were "crusading" to get him to India. There were difficulties getting the Iraqi journalist to India since he was living in Beirut at the time.

They even met with the Home Ministry, which was "dragging its heels," according to the filmmaker, which was then led by P Chidambaram under the leadership of the then-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"They dislike sensitive plays that stir up rabid crowd emotion. I claimed that we have a constitutional right to transform a published work into a play like we are doing here "said he.

A sensible official at the Home (minister) finally responded, "We'll fast pace the procedure," according to the Mumbai-based director. "When Muntadhar arrived, he went to Raj Ghat as his first action. Gandhiji inspired awe in him. I accompanied him on that momentous visit, "He remembered.

Bhatt said that he would read the letter at the play's commencement and then make an appearance on stage at its conclusion when it was performed throughout the nation.

"That was just done to let the public know that, in my opinion, this is a production that the whole world ought to see. It did develop its own life. People of all ranks liked each and every performance that we gave throughout our about 70 performances around the nation "Added he.

The director said he intended to convert "The Final Salute" into a book in order to keep it as a theatrical play.

There was a group of driven individuals in India who dared to do a play on the life of this man who threw his shoe at George W. Bush. I thought that before it fades away into the annals of history, it's good to convert this play into a book format so that future generations can have access to this period in history. Bhatt contends that neither mainstream movies nor television can effectively hold the powerful accountable. Only theater can do this.

"Even in the face of vehement resistance and criticism, you speak truth to power. Theater was basically created to do that. Not on television or in mainstream movies, which simply aim for popularity... Theater has historically been a platform to speak against justice and it promotes the right of a human being to live life with dignity and on his own terms, despite the fact that it upholds status quo, toes the beaten belief system, and doesn't challenge the entrenched value system of the time "Added he.

The Vani Prakashan-published book version of "The Final Salute" was introduced during the just-completed New Delhi International Book Fair.