Theatre

Of Habba Khatoon and Sir Iqbal

Conveying his struggle: A scene from Sir Iqbal

Conveying his struggle: A scene from Sir Iqbal  

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The Urdu Drama Festival-2019 saw some memorable plays that will go a long way in enriching the composite culture of Delhi

The six-day Urdu Drama Festival-2019 organised by Urdu Academy, Delhi at Shri Ram Centre, which ended recently attracted a large number of theatre lovers as well as young actors in the quest of improving their skill of Urdu accent.

Adapted by Ranjit Kapoor, eminent theatre and film personality, from Nikolai Gogol’s classic “The Government Inspector” as “Chainpur Ki Dastaan” was presented at the festival by Saksham Society of Art and Culture under the direction of Sunil Rawat. The play is a comic exposure of rampant corruption in administrative machinery at various levels of a state. Kapoor’s adaptation is set in an imaginary small town administered by a group of unscrupulous and corrupt officials. In the original, the element of satire is strong. Kapoor’s adaptation is essentially comic. He has created a character of dacoit to make his play hilarious.

Despite rough edges here and there, Rawat’s production amuses the audience bringing to the fore the contemporary relevance of the play. Kapil Pal as Daku Lakhan Singh and Vikram Aditya Pandey as Khan, who is constantly nagged by his young second wife, give creditable performances as comic actors.

Prolific director Dr. M. Sayeed Alam has produced a number of plays which are remarkable for delivery of dialogue in chaste Urdu and aesthetically conceptualised productions. His Pierrot’s Trope under his direction presented “Sir Iqbal” at the festival. The play opens with a poetic symposium in which Sir Iqbal recites his immensely popular poem “Saare Jahan Se Achchha Hindustan Hamara” which is heard by a group of poets in rapt attention setting the tone of the production, projecting the multi-faceted protagonist of the play.

His personal life is unfolded against the background of the tumultuous political movements in which Iqbal plays vital role. Despite the serious tone of the production, the audience is offered some light-hearted moments. Dr. Alam as Sir Iqbal gives an outstanding performance. Anju Chhabra as narrator speaks in Punjabi in a lively style punctuated with serious tone to convey the struggle Sir Iqbal faces in his public and domestic life. The members of the cast are warmly applauded by the audience when they took curtain call.

Written and directed by Kajal Suri, “Habba Khatoon” depicts the life of Habba Khatoon, a 16th century poetess of Kashmir, her troubled first marriage that culminated in divorce and Yusuf Shah Chak's infatuation for her beauty and the melancholic melody of her poems. Yusuf Shah marries her and they lead a happy conjugal life. To persuade Emperor Akbar not to invade the peace loving people of Kashmir, he goes to Delhi but never comes back. Devastated, Habba Khatoon leaves the palace, she wanders across the Valley, singing her poems which reflects her inner pain and disenchantment with a world which is full of thorns. These poems continue to be sung by people even today.

Kajal’s production seems to be disjointed. The choreographic patterns are beautiful which embellish the production but do not reinforce the mood to enhance the agony of the poetess. However, the off stage music offers poignant moments that touches the hearts of the audience. Chandrani Mukherjee as Habba Khatoon gives a sensitive performance truly living the character of a great poetess and her sufferings. Gaurav Devgan as Yusuf Shah Chak creates convincing portrait of a lover who admires the beauty and verses of Habba Khatoon from the depth of his heart.

Of Habba Khatoon and Sir Iqbal

Is Shakl Se Guzri Ghalib, written by Dr. Sadigue Ali and directed by Pratibha Singh, a fine Kathak dancer and stage director, reveals the magic of Ghalib’s poetry, the thrill of dance sequences through fascinating visuals which are woven into the narrative structure of the play. Haunted by his creditors, Ghalib leaves for Calcutta to present his pension case which has been stopped by the British authority. On the way he stops at various places and his stay at Lucknow and Banaras were momentous. Disappointed with the behaviour of Lucknow Nawab, he stays in Banaras and enjoys himself while walking through the city. When finally he reaches Calcutta, he tries his best to get justice but failed to get his pension restored to him. Though dejected, he appreciates the social changes taking place in Calcutta. The play is presented by Kala Mandali.

Imaginatively designed, elaborate properties make the cultural and social life of cities like Banaras come alive. Ghalib’s couplets composed by Rakesh Kumar Pathak rendered in mellifluous voices to the accompaniment of an array of instruments cast a spell on the audience. Beneath the surface, the intense agony of the poet, caused by the death of his brother and the death of his children, are conveyed. The large caste under the brilliant direction of Pratibha Singh give finely tuned performances.

The festival ended with the presentation of “Bedard Dawakhana”, written by Akbar Quadri and directed by Farhad Khan. Most of the situations are frivolous which evoke coarse laughter. The play tries to impart the lesson that the systems of allopathy and indigenous medicine should coexist.

The festival opened with Anjum Usmani's play “Zanjeer Ka Naghma” directed by Arvind Singh and presented by Sumukha.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 4:39:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/of-habba-khatoon-and-sir-iqbal/article30186580.ece

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