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The Lahore Literary Festival came as a breath of fresh air on the city’s depleted cultural landscape
“Pata nahin kee hai, koi kitaaban da mela lagda hai,” one of the numerous policewomen deployed outside the Alhamra Arts Council last weekend was overheard saying perplexedly into her phone. It was easy to understand her confusion for it’s not every day that the city witnesses an event of the magnitude that was the Lahore Literary Festival (LLF).
Spread over three days, the festival put up a remarkable 75 sessions that gave the people of the city, as well as those who’d converged on to the Alhamra from various parts of Pakistan, a taste of literature, politics, culture and music. The sessions ranged from tributes to Pakistan’s legends such as Madam Noor Jehan and Faiz Ahmed Faiz to talks by the country’s new generation of fiction writers including Kamila Shamsie, Mohsin Hamid and Bilal Tanveer, interspersed by discussions on global and regional politics that engaged international journalists such as Roger Cohen of the NY Times and Lyse Doucet of BBC with local experts and politicians.
Posted by Raza Rumi
It is absolutely a great development. Ajoka has decided to stage a play on a personality that has been neglected by India and Pakistan. His views and role in history challenges the myths of Indian and Pakistani nationalism and confronts religious militancy rampant in the two countries. Had Dara – the visionary, sage and believer in humanism – lived, we may have avoided blood, carnage and violence that defines South Asia of today. Those interested to explore the hidden history, removed from textbook propaganda must watch this play. The venue and timings can be found at the end of this post. Now the formal introduction to the play:
Dara – A play on the life and times of Mughal prince Dara Shikoh
Ajoka’s new play “Dara” is about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb. Dara was not only a crown prince but also a poet, a painter and a Sufi. He wanted to build on the vision of Akbar the Great and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for the Truth and shared teachings of all major religions is reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play also explores the existential conflict between Dara the crown prince, and Dara the Sufi and the poet. Continue reading
Posted in heritage, History, Lahore, theatre
Tagged ajoka, Dara Shikoh, India, Lahore, Mughal, play, prince, Sufi, theatre
By Hajrah Mumtaz
Over the decades, Pakistani politics have become an ever more complex game. So it is hardly surprising that talking politics is something of a national pastime, the closest we have come to, perhaps, achieving a shared national obsession. What is surprising, however, is that political discourse is largely missing from the entertainment media. Continue reading
Say No to Talibanization Cultural activity is under threat in Pakistan
Please attend Ajoka’s performances:
1. Hotel Mohenjodaro on 17th May
2. Dekh Tamasha Chalta Ban 18th May
3. Burqavaganza 23rd May
4. Bulha 24th May Venue: 8:00p.m, at Alhamra Hall # 2, The Mall, Lahore.
Entry is Free In Karachi, the festival will be held at the Arts Council from 30th May to 4th June 2009
For further information 042-6682443/ 6686634
LAHORE: A group photograph of Governor Salmaan Taseer and performers of the play ‘Hotel Mohanjodaro’, produced by the Ajoka Theatere at the Al-Hamra Arts Council. APP
Yasser Hamdani at Chowk writes: We must learn a lesson from Abbas’s prophecy and stop this decay before it consumes us, as Pakistanis and as Muslims. Even Islam as a faith has no real conception of clergy. Repeatedly the Quran calls upon the Muslims to live their own lives without interferences from the holy men and witchdoctors. Then why are we tolerating the Mullah in the name of Islam? The Mullah is no defender of Islam. He is a parasite sucking the very life blood out of our faith. Obscurantism and retrogressive values will lead us no where but to total destruction. We will be humiliated and in the words of Iqbal ‘tumhari dastan tak bhee na ho gi dastanon mein’. The Muslims world over should decry this unnatural priesthood conferred upon the mullah.
Watch the video clips below: Continue reading
Lahore was renowned for its experimental theatre and led the country’s art scene with its sizeable creed of artists, writers and directors. And, whilst that parallel culture of serious theatre is present, it has been sidelined by a crass and commercial brand of entertainment that was earlier popular for the lewd Punjabi jokes.
However, the newest brand consolidated during the 1990s has integrated the old Mujra form albeit in its destroyed shape. What has been the effect of this trend: women, children and families are not found in theatre halls. The larger purpose of theatre as an inclusive form of entertainment, interaction and participation is all decaying. Such is the impact of greed and commercialism. Commercial theatre is now a preserve for the oversexed, possibly under-laid male Lahoris; and rich men from the outskirts come to get a visual-lay to be supplemented by a real one besides the grand old mosque.
Today, someone forwarded this video and sent a link to a blog that has a collection of such stage-d mujras. It is noticeable for the Bollywood influence including the tattoos! I am not sure if they are that hot or sexy though this little “hot” number is redeemed by the attractive performer.
Well, watch it at your own risk!