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Reaching out

Scenes from the plays to be staged at the three-day festival in New Delhi.

Scenes from the plays to be staged at the three-day festival in New Delhi.  


Danish Iqbal talks about All India Radio’s Urdu Theatre Festival, starting this Monday

Urdu continues to be the flavour of the season. We are just through with the Jashn-e-Rekhta celebration and now we have All India Radio Urdu Service marking its 50 years with a three-day Urdu Theatre Festival beginning this Monday. Organised by the External Services Division (ESD) of AIR, the festival is also a part of the national radio station’s 75th anniversary.

The festival invites theatre lovers with three popular plays. To be staged on Monday is Salima Raza directed “Ek Kutte Ki Kahani” (based on Saadat Hasan Manto’s short story “Tithwal ka Kutta”. The next day will feature “Ghalib in Delhi” directed by M. Sayeed Alam. Tarique Hameed’s “Sara Ka Sara Aasman”, portraying the life of Pakistani poetess Sara Shagufta, is scheduled for the last day.

Danish Iqbal, in-charge of AIR’s Urdu Service and the curator of the event, says, “We have chosen these three plays keeping in mind the brief of ESD which is to create a positive image of the country, especially across the border, emphasise the democratic and secular aspects of the nation and the futility of armed conflict between India and Pakistan.”

He considers theatre the most apt art form to depict life and the condition of the armed forces and those residing on the Line of Control (LoC).

The plays shall be performed in different places in Jammu and Kashmir near the LoC with the aim of reaching out to the neighbours through art and culture.

Literary figures are the common denominator for the works chosen for the festival.

“The public is aware of these personalities. Moreover, they depict situations and events that transpired in their lives. This greatly facilitates connecting with the audience as they appreciate realism,” points out Iqbal.

Manto’s story, he highlights, shows how conflict between two nations created due to Partition is meaningless as they share many aspects of their life and history. It also raises pertinent questions about the future of art and literature in Pakistan.

“The tale is prophetic as despite several wars, nothing has been achieved,” he says. “Ghalib in Delhi” is a slapstick comedy which portrays the noted poet in present-day Delhi.

The final day’s play brings the struggle of Sara against the patriarchal, male-dominated Pakistani society. “Through her poems she poured out her anguish over the exploitation of women,” underlines Iqbal.

Though these plays have been staged several times, some aspects have been redesigned for the occasion. In the first work, for instance, says Iqbal, since it will be staged for the Army, some things have been tweaked. To make it LoC-centric, he says, “Certain nuances and eccentricities of the armed forces, like cross-border fire exchange between the soldiers to overcome boredom,” have been included.

Similarly, the penultimate day’s play depicts Ghalib’s confusion when asked by the angels if he would like to go to India or to Pakistan.

“Sara Ka Sara Aasman”, which Iqbal describes as a dark play, is not character-centric. Rather, Pakistani society is its focus.

(The plays will be staged at Muktadhara auditorium, Bhai Veer Singh Marg, Gole Market, New Delhi, from 6.30 p.m. onwards.)

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Printable version | Aug 15, 2018 5:29:56 PM |