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Play based on life of Sufi saint Kabir staged

Play based on life of Sufi saint Kabir staged

ISLAMABAD: The Ajoka Theatre on Wednesday put on a performance of Kabira Khara Bazaar Mein, which focuses on the sufi and mystic saint Kabir.

Over an hour and a half long, the play was the second on presented by the production house in the National Art Gallery’s auditorium.

The play is based on Bhisham Shani’s play and is designed and directed by one of India’s prominent theatre directors, Kewal Dhaliwal.

The 15th century poet and saint Kabir is one of the better known representative of the Bhakti movement, which was a largely monotheistic spiritual and social movement which challenged the Hindu caste system and projected a relationship with the creator based on love and compassion.

It advocated religious harmony and tolerance and rejected faith-based hatred and discrimination. The movement was largely influenced by sufis and in turn, the Bhakti thought profoundly influenced the later sufi poets and mystics including Bulleh Shah.

The play follows the life of Kabir, who was born in a lower class Muslim family of weavers, who defied the divides of class, caste and creed in the 14th and 15th century India and challenged qazis, mullahs, pundits and mahants with equal zeal.

He was attacked by the Hindu and Muslim religious establishments but was loved by the people and his poetry was popular in India and Pakistan and remains so today.

Usman Zian, who has been with Ajoka since 2006, played Kabira and appeared calm and composed on stage when moral and spiritual decay was showed to be around him.

The characters that remained popular with the audience include a pandit played by Nabeel Butt and a mullah played by Fahad Hashmi with both the characters bringing in comedy and energy into the play.

The stage setting was simple, with singers and musicians sitting in the back and red and blue lights used to depict scenes of fire and thunder.

Ajoka’s Creative Director Madiha Gohar introduced Kabir to the audience, and said he was a sufi saint who did not figure in historical narratives like many other such as Bulleh Shah, Bhagat Singh, Darashiko, Manto and Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

“History has been re-written and people eulogise the wrong people for all the wrong reasons. This used to be the land of tolerance, of people who believed in plurality and diversity and cultures and respect for all.

“ It is sad that there is no mention of the people who preached love and peace, especially in these times of narrow-mindedness,” she said.

Acting High Commissioner of India J.P Singh appreciated the play and said it was a message for the people of the two countries to live in peace and harmony.

Ajoka will present Bala King on December 15.

Published in Dawn, December 15th, 2016

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