Charles Dickens and Saadat Hasan Manto will share the stage this week, figuratively speaking. On the one hand, it’s the great novelist of the Victorian era in his bicentenary year. On the other is the Urdu story teller of the days of the Partition in his centenary year.
They can be experienced through their plays, dramatised readings, elocutions and more at the Pickwick Festival, named after Dickens’ first novel The Pickwick Papers. The three-day fest, organised by the English Literary Association of Jamia Millia Islamia, aims to take the legacy of the two writers further among the youth, especially those who have not read their work. “Good art should not be constrained by boundaries,” says Saumya Kulshreshtha, one of the organisers.
Dickens’ famous works include A Tale of Two Cities, Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and many more. Characters from his works are equally popular even after more than a century. Manto, on the other hand, translated many well-known works from other languages like English and Russian into Urdu, the popular language of northern united India. Saddened by the mayhem and destruction of the Partition, he wrote many remarkable stories. Many of his works attracted the wrath of fundamentalists and he was tried in courts for obscenity many a time. His famous works include Toba Tek Singh and Khol Do.
The festival, starting October 15, will feature adaptations of the works of the two writers. There will also be graffiti based on their works. One can also enjoy paintings and creative writing in which audience members will be asked to write their own plays based on Dickens’ or Manto’s works. An undisclosed movie on one of Dickens’ work will also be screened. After the movie, the audience will discuss the movie’s significance in our times. Also, an animated movie on the writer, especially made for the festival, will be screened.