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When the stage becomes a people's forum

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LESSONS OF HISTORY A scene from
LESSONS OF HISTORY A scene from "B-Three"

DIWAN SINGH BAJELI

The Urdu Drama Festival held this past week featured plays on the changing social fabric.

The four-day Urdu Drama Festival organised by the Urdu Academy, Delhi, at Shri Ram Centre auditorium, which ended this past week, evoked an encouraging response from theatregoers. Most of these plays express deep concern at the communal strife being triggered by anti-social elements for their nefarious ends. What is most ennobling is that a note of conviction runs through these productions - that man is essentially good and strong enough to defeat anti-people elements to inculcate a sense of brotherhood in a secular policy."Pehaley Aap" written by Iftikhar Alam, was the concluding play of the festival that offered moments of hilarity. It was an admirable effort to project a highly emotional issue of communal riots in a comic manner. Two agent-provocateurs after destroying communal harmony in a town, plundering public property, move on to Lucknow city. To their dismay, they find here a cultural climate that does not breed hatred, much less communal violence. Mohammad Shahid, the director of the play, was not able to bring out the comic elements in the initial sequences, but when the action moved to Lucknow, he was not only able to capture the milieu known for its lively and leisurely pastime such as cock fighting and chess playing, but also treated them in a style that enabled wit and mirth to sparkle. The most hilarious scene was one in which Nawab Sahab and Rai Sahab are locked in a fight-to-the-finish duel with knives as little as a human fingers, following strictly the Lucknow etiquette of `Pehaley aap' in the duel. Dheeraj Tyagi as Nawab Sahab and Aslam Khan as Rai Sahab were eminently humorous. Baby Naaz as Bahu and Lali and Rafia Khan as Begum Sahiba acted admirably. The play was presented by IPTA, Jamia.Over the years, Bahroop has emerged as a leading amateur dramatic group on the theatrical landscape of Delhi. Its production of Shahid Anwar's "B-Three" was featured at the festival on the opening day. The play deals with the predicament of a professor of history who is not able to convey to his students the enormity of the crime against humanity by the German fascists who are guilty of genocide. The students make fun of the professor. He devises a new teaching technique to bring home the lesson of history, which witnessed the butchery of innocent Jews. Ironically, he ends up in justifying the very thesis he wants to denounce. The play has been directed by Suman Kumar, a graduate of the NSD.

Death and survival

Presented by Saakshi Kala Manch, "Mere Khwab Reza Reza....Aakhir-E-Shab Ke Hamsafar" deals with two aspects of human life - death and survival - against the background of war. It is also a play about the emotional and psychological scars left on the dear ones of the dead. At another level, it displays man's capacity to reconcile with his loss and reshape his life. Written by Ahmad Fraz in blank verse, the play seems to have been based on Christopher Fry's "The Lady Not for Burning", a romantic comedy in a medieval setting. Director Amina Sherwani's production remains tense throughout. "Baagh", translated into Urdu from Shishir Kumar Das's Bengali play by Bilquis Zafeerul Hasan, captures a riot-torn society in which religious fanaticism is out to destroy human values. The fanatical killers are shown metaphorically through prowling tigers escaped from captivity in a circus. The production under the direction of Mohammad Waseen Khan conveys that in a society in which sanity and humanity prevail, these dreaded brutes tend to become mere paper tigers. This play was presented at Ayodhya by Habib Tanvir after the demolition of the Babri Masjid to warn the people of the perpetrators of communal frenzy and to create amity and communal harmony.


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