‘Rainshed Dream’ by Sana Janjua

The purple midnight of Jhelum
crawls over the rainshed memory
I have of you – drenched,
tipsy with pubescent desire,
as if you will light up the mosque in
which we played cards
with your skill at the game- those nerved hands-
and the soul of that fluttering heart,
all mine.
Outside, it poured
and I cajoled you on
with my nascent dialect
that was too outlandish to
your upper middle class upbringing.

A jackal  whimpered in the distance,
somewhere where jackals reside.
The pack moved closer in inches
towards the story, so that the epic

(our love story)

became an unmoored myth
of belligerent animals
that slime out of nocturnal spaces,

howling,

which perturbed your
sophisticated sensibilities,
making me an incongruity to your prestige,

your high end, red bricked house,

heaving its mighty benevolence

in the midst of an anthill, my residence.

Your story had to be written with the
nib of a peacock feather,

dipped in the splash of white gold,

imbuing the stately shades

you have in your heroic blood,

when you so generously grant me
a smile,

a glimpse,

(and, nowadays)

a small touch

so i may burn,

burn at both ends.

i have no where to go,

but to hide in the shadows

my voice

generates on the periphery

of your vision.

My genesis lies in
the idea of the possibility

that i may exist,

that i may very well be born

under the weight of

your rib cage.

It’s you,
who has brought me to life.

Between us, there is a galaxy

of contradictions,

and of a singular realization

that you are the guardian of my imagination,

and i am the silhouette of your past.

All this time,
in looking at you and the passing nights,
I only had a longing– a wild cry–

inherited and passed down the line of
old city’s song writers who feed on
the wisdom and chirping of migratorial birds;
right here from my throat
to my stomach is
but a cry, –a wild cry–
a song bird’s devotion,
nothing to quell your taste in music and noble art.

You have spent days
unlearning the dignified aesthetics
of your social class
when you play Salman Ahmed
on a small guitar,
that tune which had no song attached to her,
no burden attached.
It is a free tune and
we are free to touch each other,
as we hold  each other’s hands,

wanting to kiss the august sky
in the imagined street named after

you and me.

Mad reverie,
Somewhere in the world,
There is a street named
after our unrequited love.
Find me that, and

find me your love.

Sana Janjua is a poet and a playwright who is also the President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation/discussion group.

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Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema

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Written by Randeep Singh

In the high and palmy state of Bombay, the Bard and Hindi screen did meet … It was the Parsi theatre which brought Shakespeare to Hindi cinema. The Parsi theatre flourished between 1870 and 1940, adapting Shakespeare’s plays into Urdu, the literary lingua franca of northern India. Those plays were in turn screened and adapted to Hindi cinema.

One of the earliest such films was Dil Farosh (1927), a silent film based on the Parsi theatre adaptation of The Merchant of VeniceThe Taming of the Shrew, Antony and Cleopatra and Measure for Measure were adapted respectively in Hathili Dulhan (1932), Kafir-e-Ishq (1936) and Pak Daman(1940). Hamlet meanwhile reigned among tragedies, adapted first into the silent film Khoon-e-Nahak (1928) and later into the “talkies,” Sohrab Modi’s Khoon Ka Khoon (1935) and Kishore Sahu’s Hamlet (1954).

In adapting Shakespeare to India, the dramatists of Parsi theatre recreated his pathos, wit and intrigue in Urdu. With the exception of the drama and opera Inder Sabha (c. 1853), Urdu literature lacked a tradition of drama in the Sanskrit or Elizabethean sense; and yet, the verses of Ghalib and the marsiya of Anis and Dabeer demonstrated that Urdu was capable of dramatic resonance. The Parsi playwrights exploited that potential by making an elaborately rhetorical Urdu the vessel through which Shakespeare was carried to Indian audiences.

Take the following excerpt from Safed Khoon, Agha Hashar Kashmiri’s adaptation of King Lear. The dialogue relates to the first scene between Khakan (Lear) and Zara (Cordelia) where Khakan addresses Zara:


Khakhan: Haan, ab teri gulfishani ka intizaar hai
(Now we await a shower of flower from thy  lips)

Zara: Abba jaan, mai kya arz karoon
Ita’ut mujh se kahti hai ki tu chup rah nahin sakti
Magar mera yeh kahna hai ki mai kuchh kah nahin sakti

(Respected Father, what shall I say –
Obedience tells me that I cannot remain silent
But I have only this to say that I can say nothing)[1]

In the following dialogue, each character speaks half a line to the other, a rising tension building in rhyme:


Khakan: Chhor de yeh zid………Zara: abhi chhooti nahin
(Leave this stubbornness)……….(No, never)

Khakan: Be-adab hai tu…………Zara: Magar jhoothi nahin
(Disrespectful art thou)………(But not a liar)

Khakan: Nuqsaan uthhayegi…………..Zara: era bari ta’ala hai
(You will suffer great loss)…………….(The Creator is supreme)

Khakan: Mai kuchh na doonga tujhko……Zara: Khuda dene wala hai
(I will give thee nothing)……………………  (it is for God to give)[2]

This intensely dramatic Urdu style was well suited not only for adaptations of Shakespeare plays in Parsi theatre but for Hindi cinema as well.

Gulzar’s adaptation of The Comedy of Errors in Angoor (1981) aside, adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays in Hindi cinema petered out after 1960. The influence of Shakespeare though has been felt in the theme, story and dialogue of Hindi cinema whether through the The Taming of The Shrew in Junglee (1966) and Naukar Biwi Ka (1983) or Romeo and Juliet in Mehboob Khan’s Aan (1952) and Mansoor Khan’s Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988).

In more recent years, the bard has travelled to the Bombay underworld, the dusty towns of Uttar Pradesh and Kashmir’s valleys of snow. Shakespeare will continue to evolve and inspire in Hindi cinema as in this monologue from Haider:

Dil kī agar sunooñ to hai
Dimāgh kī to hai nahin 
Jaan looñ ki jaan duñ 
Main rahooñ ki main nahiñ[3]

Exeunt

“Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” Rajiv Verma in India’s Shakespeare: Translation, Interpretation and Performance (ed. Poonam Trivedi and Dennis Bartholomeusz), 269-290.

[1] R. Verma, “Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” 273.

[2] R. Verma, “Shakespeare in Hindi Cinema,” 274.

[3] The barely sane Haider speaks revolver in hand:
“If I listen to my heart – it’s there
It’s not of my mind 
To kill or to die
To be or not to be

Celebrating 100 years of Saadat Hassan Manto (May 1912-2012) – Lahore May 14-17/12

By Kanwal Dhaliwal from Uddari Art

Celebrating 100 years of Saadat Hassan Manto (May 1912-2012)
AJOKA THEATRE
In collaboration with the
Lahore Arts Council
Presents a
Tribute to Manto
On 14th, 15th , 16th & 17th May 2012 at 7pm
VENUE: Hall #2, Alhamra the Mall, Lahore.

You are coordially invited to the following events
14th and 15th May
Performances
Siyah Hashiye
Toba Tek Singh
Khol Do
Adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
Directed by: Madeeha Gauhar
Dramatised Readings
Akhri Salute
By Naeem Tahir

16th and 17th May
Performances
Naya Qanoon
Adapted by: Shahid Nadeem
Directed by: Naseem Abbas
Dramatised Readings
Sawerey Jo Kal Ankh Mairee Khuli
Pardey ki Baatain
Dekh Kabira Roya
Uncle Sam Ke Khatoot
By Naveed Shahzad, Naseem Abbas, Furqan Majeed

More Information:
Ajoka: 042-36686634, 36682443, 36677047 Alhamra: 99200917-8

Note:
Children under 12 are strictly not allowed
Mobile phones must be switched off before entering the hall
Doors shall be closed upon commencement of the performance
Consumption of eatables & drinks in the hall is not allowed

Website: www.ajoka.org.pk
Email: ajokatheatre@gmail.com
Facebook: AjokaTheatrePakistan
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Celebrating Gursharan Singh (1929-2011) – Surrey BC Oct 10/11


Mere dil vich dard jagaey, chutki le ja na, le ja na … chatta channan da dey ja na
(From ‘Chatta Chandna Da’ by Amritshar Natak Kala Kendra)

Bhaji Gursharan Singh passed away in his home in Chandigarh on September 27. This
great human being from Punjab, a revolutionary spirit, a ground-breaking artist who
changed the face of Punjabi theatre and culture, a champion of the downtrodden and
fearless defender of the oppressed is mourned not only in Punjab and India but wherever there are South Asians who ache for the deprivation and sorrow of others and who work for social justice.

Join us in celebrating the life of this revolutionary artist.
Monday, October 10
1.30 pm-4.30 pm
7475-135 Street
Surrey BC

Organized byHarinder Mahil, Chin Banerjee, Raj Chouhan, Sadhu Binning, Charan Gill, Makhan Tut., and Paul Binning, Sukhwant Hundal and Sarwan Boal.
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Special Performance: Ajoka’s play on Honour Killings – Lahore July 26/11

AJOKA THEATRE
in collaboration with
SOUTH ASIAN PARTNERSHIP (SAP)
Cordially invites you to
A special performance of
Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae
They are honour-killing me O Mother

Written by Shahid Nadeem
Directed by Madeeha Gauhar
July 26th 2011
11.a.m
Ali Institute Auditorium
Ferozpur Road, Lahore

No Invitation passes required
Free Event

Fiction not as grotesque as fact
“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” (They are honour-killing me O Mother!) is a fictional account of the proceedings of a Panchayat of men sitting on judgment on their own women, who are accused of violating the tribal code of honour. But the fact is that reality in our society is much stranger and shocking than fiction, as we have learnt from the cases such as the murder of Saima Sarwar and the Mukhtaran Mai gang rape. The recent Supreme Court judgment on MUKHTARAN MAI case has made decision a laughing stock of the world.

“Maikoon Kari Kareenday ni mae” is part of Ajoka’s campaign to create awareness about the savage custom of “honour” killing and mobilise public opinion for its eradication. The play has been performed in big cities as well as in the areas badly affected by “Karo Kari” killings. Ajoka is already involved in theatre workshops and video screenings to enable community activists to mobilize support for the campaign against honour killings through theatre and the performing arts.

In its 27 year of uninterrupted and undeterned struggle to bring about social change through theatre, Ajoka reaffirms its determination to keep the flag of socially meaning theatre flying and be a part of the democratic movement for a secular, just and egalitarian society.

The theme song of the play is translation of a poem by Sindhi poet Seeikh Ayaz.

If any organization is interested in having this play performed in their communities do contact us at: ajokatheatre@gmail.com
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To Faiz from Alys, ‘Dear Heart’ a play by Sam Lathem

Faiz (Sam Lathem) and Alys (Helen Phillips)

Dear Heart, a 25-minute play in English based on the life of Faiz and his wife Alys, and set in the period when he was imprisoned in Pakistan during the early 1950s on treason charges, was staged for the first time on 14 May 2011 in Oxford, England.

The event was organised jointly by Anjuman-e-Adab Oxford, Oxford University Pakistan Society and the Faiz Centenary Celebration Committee UK.

The play was a part of an evening of speeches, performances, and poetry readings celebrating the life and work of Faiz. The play, dramatic and thought provoking was received with rapturous applause and a standing ovation. An imprisoned poet of Punjabi origin writing in the Urdu language of feudal literary sensibility, being visited by Alys, the love of his life, and the mother of their two young daughters – this sort of plot would have risked falling into the trap of sentimentality a la Punjabi/Urdu theatre. But the play steers clear of such a trap and carries the message across in a simple, emotive and subtle way.

The play gives prominence to Alys’ story revealing her courage and power in the Faiz narrative. Her character, played with feeling and expressiveness by Helen Phillips, stands out. Faiz, played by Sam Lathem, displays deftly both the helplessness of a prisoner and steadfastness of a committed poet. The two guards are a pivotal and integral part of the play, particularly when they are required not to speak. The older guard is played with powerful energy and stage presence, by Charanjit Singh. The younger guard is played by Ali Aulia, who manages to reveal a touching transformative journey. In no time the raw intensity of the play takes you to a virtuality, beyond time and space.

Even if one is not familiar with the lives of Faiz and Alys, the play communicates the emotional journey of two people caught in a desperate and traumatic situation who are determined to survive against all odds, the source of their survival – a powerful love for each other. Finally, in the play there are echoes of Faiz’s appeal to a universality in revealing that the guards are also prisoners.

Faiz (Sam Lathem) and prison guards Ali Aulia and Charanjit Singh

Writer/Director Sam Lathem says this about the play
I have been inspired to write Dear Heart with one simple thought – love for the whole world cannot be locked away and forgotten about. Alys Faiz a woman in a new world, armed only with love will fight for all human rights.

I wrote the play, earlier this year, setting it in and around the small cell in which Faiz was imprisoned. This gave me a strong backdrop for the play. Alys had not seen Faiz, for three months, this gave her a strong emotional centre from which I could write. Discovering Faiz, had been tortured by two guards, she first sets about her prison reformation, she then sets about Faiz’s reformation reaffirming his sense of self worth. Faced with a mountain to climb, sorting out the political and personal corruption, she does so armed only with love. The play ends with Alys saying to Faiz that he must be patient, and to keep writing. As she exits, we realize, how strong she has been, and how strong she must be to get her husband released.

Alys has been a footnote in Faiz’s life and at times for far too long. I felt, I needed to shine the light on her, to step out of the shadows of Faiz’s beautiful light and for us to realise there would be no him without her.

Words and images by Amarjit Chandan

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Press conference: Artists against government ban‏ in Pakistan

Press Release

Ajoka Theatre, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop and Samina Ahmed Productions are holding a press conference at
Lahore Press Club
February 25th
6. pm.

Regarding the statement of the Interior Minister Rahman Malik reported in the media in which he has said that all artists will require a No Objection Certificate (N.O.C.) when leaving the country.

All friends are requested to attend the press conference.

Madeeha Gauhar, Ajoka Theatre
Usman Peerzada, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop
Samina Ahmed, Samina Ahmed Productions

More information
ajokatheatre@gmail.com
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