After winning accolades in New Delhi, the Indian Harmony Foundation is bringing their show Purani Dilli to Mumbai. Set in the time of Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, the performance will celebrate the culture and harmony of the era, which saw a flourish of poetry, art and literature. The emperor was also known for his fairness and just administration, during his forty years of rule.
“Lectures and books would not be enough to get the message across,” says Kulsoomnoor Saifullah, who has conceptualized and directed the show. “We’ve tried to showcase the period by depicting a day in the life of Purani Dilli – its bazaars, the evening sessions at the court, the food, entertainment and the entire experience.”
Bahadur Shah Zafar, a patron of the arts, was a distinguished poet in his own right. His court too, boasted of renowned poets like Ghalib, Zauq and Momin. The show will highlight some of their works, and also portray significant traditions of the time, such as the Phoolwalon ki Sair. The latter is a 400-year-old ritual that takes place even today in the capital.
Urdu scholar and theatre artiste, Zakia Zaheer, who has also provided music and written the script, will narrate Purani Dilli. Noted Kathak exponent Shovana Narayan has choreographed the performance.
“All Indians, deep in their hearts, yearn for the old days of social harmony. In recent times, discord and animosity have generated bitterness and ennui, and these must be rooted out of our system and our psyche,” says Zafar Saifullah, former Cabinet Secretary and Founder President of The India Harmony Foundation. “Culture is the greatest tool in building bridges and promoting understanding between communities.”
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan and Tourism Minister Kumari Selja are among several dignitaries slated to attend the event. A Coffee table book Eternal Delhi – Bridging the centuries compiled by and published by Mrs. Saifullah will also be released, the proceeds of which will go to the Foundation.