From Iqbal to Wo Lahore, Partition-era India revisted on Delhi stage

  • Etti Bali, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: May 26, 2016 18:38 IST
Sayeed Alam plays the titular character in Sir Iqbal. (Pierrot’s Troupe)

With an interesting line-up of plays that tackle the various aspects of Partition-era India, Delhi theatre-goers are in for a treat this weekend. Each play, through the journey of its characters, tries to send across the message of humanity. SP Singh Sengar, director of Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya, feels that religion and humanity are two separate things and should be kept that way.

Thespian Saleem Shah, who plays the role of Ghazanfar Hussain in Pakistan aur Alzheimer’s, feels that the younger generation doesn’t even know what the Partition was. He says, “Whenever we talk about Partition, we only think of the killings. But after performing this play, I have seen young kids asking their families about Partition.”

Atul Satya Kaushik, director of Wo Lahore, feels that plays on this theme have a wider reach in cities of north India. “The audiences in cities like Delhi are able to relate to these stories on a more personal level,” he says. Here is a look on what’s in store for you.

Read: Tales from India’s 1947 Partition refugee camps

Sir Iqbal by Pierrot’s Troupe

Written and directed by Dr M Sayeed Alam and Professor Danish Iqbal, Sir Iqbal draws a sketch of poet and philosopher Sir Muhammad Iqbal’s life. Bringing the different aspects of his personality to audiences is very important, feels Alam, who is also playing the lead in the play. “He is the most sung poet; he wrote Saare jahaan se acha Hindostan humara. Yet, he is associated with the foundation of Pakistan. We have tried to tackle this paradox through our play,” says Alam. The play also shows India’s socio-political scenario during Iqbal’s time. “The play is about the personal, poetic and political life of Allama Iqbal,” adds Alam.

Danish Iqbal feels that this play will get appreciation in Delhi as the senior-most generation has grown up on the ideologies of Iqbal. “He was proud of his Kashmiri pandit roots and was a household name in Sikh and Hindu Punjabi families”, says Danish. Alam says that he would love to take this play to Pakistan. “All we want to tell through this play is that do not hero worship Iqbal and don’t associate him with the idea of Pakistan and the partition of India,” he concludes.

Venue: LTG Auditorium, Mandi House, Copernicus Marg

Date: May 28

Time: 7 pm

Nearest Metro Station: Mandi House on Blue Line and Violet Line

Read: Gurgaon to get a glimpse of Ghalib’s letter-writing

A scene from Sir Iqbal... (Pierrot’s Troupe)

Wo Lahore by The Film and Theatre Society

Presented by Atul Satya Kaushik’s The Film and Theatre Society, Wo Lahore is set in the Lahore of the 1940s. “The play looks at a very important phase in India’s history from a micro level. We have taken the context away from the two nations and inside the 4 walls of a household,” says Kaushik, director of the play. Use of poetry and verse to convey certain events and passages in the story is one of the highlights of the play.

Theatre actor Shakti Singh, who plays the lead role of Jamuna in the play, initially felt it tough to get into the skin of the character. “I was very young when I first played Jamuna, who is a mother of three sons. It is only now that I feel I have matured enough to do full justice to her,” she says. The group will be staging the 25th show of this play on May 29 at Kamani Auditorium. “It is our silver jubilee show and over the years, the audience has become more receptive,” concludes Kaushik.

Venue: Kamani Auditorium, Copernicus Marg

Date: May 29

Time: 7 pm

Nearest Metro Station: Mandi House on Blue Line and Violet Line

Read: Akshara puts theatre on trial | Art festival celebrates courtroom drama

(File photo) Lead character from Wo Lahore, Jamuna, in a scene from the play. (FTS )

Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya O Jameyai Nai by Shree Umapati Group

Based on playwright and scholar Dr Asghar Wajahat’s play of the same name, Jis Lahore Nai Dekhya O Jameyai Nai is the story of an old Hindu woman who gets left behind in Paksitan in the aftermath of the Partition. “It is an emotional play and drives home the message of humanity,” says SP Singh Sengar, director of the play.

Preparing for a period drama requires thorough research. Vivek Kavishwar, who plays the role of the Muslim patriarch Sikander Mirza who migrates to Pakistan, says, “I used to go to Old Delhi and roam the streets observing the mannerisms of the people there. Time has stood still here and you can feel the walls talking to you.”

Venue: Sri Ram Centre, Safdar Hashmi Marg, Mandi House

Date: May 29

Time: 7:30 pm

Nearest Metro Station: Mandi House on Blue Line and Violet Line

This is story of Mai, a Hindu woman who gets left behind in Pakistan after the Partition. (Shree Umapati Group)

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