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Ajoka revisits 70 years of Partition

Ajoka revisits 70 years of Partition

LAHORE: The three-day Ajoka Theatre festival (Oct 10-12) began on Tuesday here at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall, attracting a large audience, primarily comprising the fans of the group that is famous for its plays on political and social themes.

The festival -- ‘Revisiting 70 years of Partition’ -- had a lot to offer in terms of the Ajoka plays that jelled with the theme.

The event opened with Kaun Hai Ye Gustakh, while on Wednesday Shehr-i- Afsos will be staged and it will conclude with Anhi Mai Da Sufna.

Before the inaugural play that was based on life and works of great short story writer of the Subcontinent, Saadat Hassant Manto, the moving spirit behind Ajoka, Madeeha Gauhar, addressing the audience said that history written on the Partition needed to be revisited.

She said a lot of literature was produced on what people on both sides of the divide went through during the Partition, especially in Punjab.

She said Ajoka also staged three plays, including the one on Manto in Amritsar in a festival.

The play written by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Ms Gauhar was an excellent production be it lighting, acting, set or the background music.

The most fascinating were the old photographs of Lahore taken before or after the Partition which were shown on a screen during the play when Manto tells his story of migration from India to Pakistan.

The character of Manto (played by Usman Raj) tells the audience that how on the advice of Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi he wrote his first short story -- Thanda Gosht -- which could not get printed in his literary magazine Naqoosh.

The play also shows Manto’s disillusionment at the communal tension in Bombay which had adversely affected the atmosphere of the city that was hub of film industry in the Subcontinent.

In the play Manto is visited by characters from his stories and essays like Khuda Ki Qasam, Khol Do, Kal Saveray Jo Ankh Meri Khuli, Licence, Letters to Uncle Sam, Thanda Gosht and Toba Tek Singh, which have been used as a vehicle to narrate the writer’s literary and emotional journey.

Published in Dawn, October 11th, 2017

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