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In the words of a rebel: A literary evening featuring Faiz

‘Dear Heart’ is a dramatised reading of the exchange of letters by Faiz from jail to his wife Alys

art and culture Updated: Jan 14, 2017 08:29 IST
Paramita Ghosh
Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-84) was an influential leftwing intellectual and one of the most celebrated writers of Urdu. He also wrote poems in Punjabi.
Faiz Ahmad Faiz (1911-84) was an influential leftwing intellectual and one of the most celebrated writers of Urdu. He also wrote poems in Punjabi.(HT Photo)

Faiz Ahmed Faiz is not a passing fancy for us, it’s a passion,” says KK Kohli, 75, the founder of Impresario Asia, who has been active in Delhi’s theatre circuit for more than 20 years. And there are reasons why Delhi can’t seem to have enough of Faiz — or Manto, his contemporary and short story-writer of the Partition generation — who left India to look for a new Pakistan’s soul.

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If Urdu poetry is one of the last standing bridges between both the countries, Faiz is a poet on the top of any Urdu-lover’s list on both sides of the border. Kohli has earlier staged Kuch ishq kiya kuch kaam, a play written by Danish Iqbal based on Faiz’s life. This Sunday, he will be focussing on Faiz’s letters.

A still from Kuch ishq kiya kuch kaam’, an Impresario Asia play based on Faiz’s life. ‘Dear Heart’, Impresario Asia’s latest offering is about Faiz’s letters to his wife, Alys. (Impresario Asia)

‘Dear Heart’ is a dramatised reading of the exchange of letters by Faiz from jail to his wife Alys, a British-born journalist. Actress Jaishree Sethi is reading Alys’s part; Shamir Abadan, Faiz’s. ‘Dear Heart’ will feature eight letters written by the couple. “Faiz was sent to jail in Pakistan for almost four years on trumped up charges in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy case in 1951,” says Kohli. “One night at a party while talking politics, he jokingly said the conditions were ripe for overthrowing the government…Authoritarian governments everywhere are insecure. And they invariably have no sense of humour.”

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The result: Faiz’s arrest and incarceration in a jail in the desert province of Sindh, at a distance of 2,000 km from his home in Lahore.

Alys’s letters pass on domestic news, her “growing impatience” with her loneliness, single-parent woes of having to bring up their two daughters in an atmosphere of surveillance, but also of solidarity by the journalistic fraternity. They also convey the longing of a couple separated by circumstances and the attempts to compress it knowing that the letters are being monitored. “That other day, a lady asked me upfront,” says Kohli, quoting from one of Alys’s letters, “ ‘Does sex bother you?’ And I answered: ‘No, the lack of it does.’ ”

The reading of the couple’s letters will also be interspersed by Faiz’s poems. Faiz’s poetry is “anti-war,” adds Kohli, a difficult position to take in a country that has known military rule. But art always does spring from tight corners.

What: ‘Nashisht’, a literary evening on Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Sahir Ludhianvi

When: Jan 15, 7 pm. For details contact 9810723979

Where: IHC, Gulmohar hall. Nearest metro station: Khan market

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