Shakuntala comes to town speaking Urdu

Cultural diplomacy

That’s what will be on show, for the first-time ever in India, at the 12th Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the country’s biggest theatre festival organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) in Delhi.

The Urdu play “Shakuntala,” adapted from the play written about two millennia ago by the great poet and directed by Zain Ahmed of Karachi, will probably be among the most eagerly awaited events at the festival this year, to be held from January 6 to 22.

The play, translated by Ahmed Himesh and adapted by the director himself, is a production of the Karachi-based National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) and its cast includes Mohsin Ali, Kashif Jamal Farhad, Ali Rizvi, Paras Masroor, Maria Rubab, Sana Hasan and Uroosa Siddiqi.

The songs in the play have been composed by Paras Masroor and Aimen Tariq while the rest of the music has been composed and performed by Alan Simon and Ahsan Bari.

“Shakuntala is a great love story full of elements that we find repeated in our modern plays, films and television. While being an ancient text, it is remarkably contemporary in the themes that it embodies and shows how deep a people’s cultural memory can be,” said NAPA faculty member Ahmed in his director’s note.

Sushma Bahl, festival project coordinator, is excited about the play coming to India. “It will be very interesting for theatre enthusiasts in India to find out how a Pakistani group has adapted one of the immortal classics of Indian theatre,” she told Deccan Herald.
The festival this year will stage 87 plays, including 13 from abroad, selected from among 450 entries representing the immense diversity of theatre activity. Incidentally, this year’s selection comprises only one Kannada play in the form of Samkutty Pattomkary’s adaptation of Euripides’ classic ‘Medea’.

The Girish Karnad-scripted English play “Broken Images,” directed by theatre and advertising veteran Alyque Padamsee, will also be staged during the festival.

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