It was a court scene of King Janak from Mithila. All eyes were focused on the conversation between Sita and her father Janak. As the audience appreciated the experience, everyone agreed that the appearance of Janak and his dialogue delivery were thoroughly convincing giving the impression of reality.
Playing the role of Janak, was a Muslim theatre artist Saahil Hussain Khan popularly known for this identity in Delhi's theatre circuit. In a time where news columns are being filled with events of disharmony and violence between communities, Saahil is emerging as an example of cultural harmony and heritage. He is playing different roles of different characters from the Ramleela this year in Ramlila at Dwarka Sri Ramlila society, sector 10. Some roles played by him are Janak, the father of Sita, Sumant the minister of king Dashrath and Vibhishan the younger brother of Ravana.
He says, "Being a part of the story of Lord Rama's life is a great honour for me. I had a dream to perform in Ramleela and this came true this time in Dwarka. I am doing my best and feeling blessed in performing in Ramleela.”
Saahil whose academic name is Waris Hussain has been an aspirant for theatre and films and has made efforts to make a career in these fields. Talking about his journey, he says, “I was involved in dance performances in schools and that gave me the confidence to act. Coincidentally, a shooting of a film was going on in my area in West Delhi in 2011. I went to meet the coordinator and asked for a small role. He offered me the role of a standby policeman."
He adds that the coordinator was happy with him and later gave him another small role in Noida where Rani Mukherjee, his favourite actress was in the lead. “I thought that work is only to stand still in the crowd so why not stand with the best production? I was being paid 1000 rupees every day and that gave me confidence.”
Saahil made efforts to be a part of NSD but couldn't succeed. Nevertheless, he joined private classes of the faculties of NSD. It was here that he learnt the nuances of acting and started participating in plays directed by eminent theatre directors such as the late Mahender Mewati, Robin Das, and Happy Ranjit among others. He took such people as his mentor.
He says, “ I could not join NSD but I was in touch with the people who graduated from there and the teachers. I started doing stage production work for them in their shows just to watch them and learn from them. With time, I learnt many things and started performing in theatre shows. This was a big early achievement for me which made me a face of theatre in Delhi,” says Sahil.
Saahil always had a desire to act in the Ramleela. He made an unsuccessful attempt in 2017-18. After that, he was chosen to act for a Ramleela in Modern Town by his friend but there too the key roles were chosen earlier and he was not fit for other roles due to his seniority. Finally, he got a chance in Ramlila at Dwarka and passed the audition. “Passing the audition and getting roles in this Ramleela is a great achievement for me. I am happy and satisfied,” says he.
Son of late Mustafa Hussain, an artisan and late Naima Bano a political activist, Saahil was guided and supported by his elder brother Tahir Hussain to pursue a career in theatre and film. Sahil established a group named Ababil Actors Studio in 2018 to train budding theatre aspirants and earn a livelihood in his career.
Even after this, the road to dreams goes far for Saahil. Saahil wants to go to Bollywood to make his place in acting. His ideal in acting is Nasiruddin Shah and Irfan Khan. In his words, “Ultimately I have to search for a place in the film industry and I am determined to achieve that."