TS Eliot blends with Indian culture at Rich Mix 100 years on

Blend of TS Eliot and Kazi Islam at Rich Mix centenary

Blend of TS Eliot and Kazi Islam at Rich Mix centenary - Credit: Ahmed Kaysher

Two masterpieces of 20th century literature are being used to blend western and eastern culture in a centenary performance at Bethnal Green’s Rich Mix arts centre. 

Sunday’s 6pm performance celebrates The Waste Land by TS Eliot and the 1921 Bengali poem Bidrohi by Kazi Nazrul Islam, commonly translated as The Rebel.

The live music, spoken-word and theatrical production by Saudha Society of Poetry and Indian Music also features Eliot’s famous interview with Professor Shiv Kumar and his interpretation of Indology. 

“This is a symbolic merging of two rich poetic traditions of the world,” its director Ahmed Kaysher reveals.  

“It blends Eliot uttering the meditative Indian mantra ‘shantih shantih shantih’ with Islam’s poetry from Bengal almost flamed with anti-colonial, anti-sectarian verses. 

“They were perhaps portraying the same decayed wasteland in different ways, while the world was facing war and moral decadence.” 

Poet John Farndon plays TS Eliot in Sunday’s production, with Manash Chowdhury as poet Islam and Shantanu Goswami as Prof Kumar. 

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Ahmed's production is touring Europe and then on to Bangladesh and India shortly after the November 14 performance at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road.