At a time when Delhi and Islamabad are spewing venom at each other, it comes as a pleasant surprise to witness a theatre group from Lahore, which has come all the way to Chandigarh, to spread the message of peace and reason.
Sponsored by Punjab Arts Coucil, Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi and Adakar Manch Mohali, the five-day event-‘Theatre for Peace Festival’ kicked off at the Tagore theatre in Chandigarh, on July 23. The occasion was graced by SSP of Chandigarh Sukhchain Singh Gill who was present as the chief guest.
The performers from Lahore’s Ajoka Theatre took the audience to the glorified Mughal era of Dara Shikoh, elder son of emperor Shahjahan and Aurangzeb the younger one, who are eying the emperor’s throne and how they shed blood of their own to fulfil their dream. Scripted and directed by Shahid Nadeem, the play ‘Dara’, through its historical narrative showed the current situation prevailing in Pakistan, South Asia and the Islamic world in general. The play was much appreciated by the audience and the actors were given a standing ovation for their performance.
A day after their heart warming performance, Ajoka presented yet another powerful play titled ‘Kaun Hain Yeh Gustakh’, based on the life and writings of Saadat Hasan Manto, who worked as a script-writer in Mumbai but later migrated to Pakistan in 1947-48. He died at the age of 43 due to alcholism. Directed by Madeeha Gauhar, wife of Nadeem, the two-hour play left the audience spell bound and teary eyed. The play showcased the trials undergone by Manto, first in undivided India and later in Pakistan and also tried to touch upon the lesser known facts of Manto’s life.
In the coming days, two more plays— Lo Phir Bahar Aayi and Anhi Maa da Sufna(Punjabi)— will be staged by Ajoka, which they hope will leave an impact over the audience like the other two.
The writer is a retired JNU professor, New Delhi, and author of books on Bhagat Singh and Hindi literature.