Partition tearjerker, day after Independence

Set in Lahore against the backdrop of Partition, Jit Lahore na Delphina wo Jamyai Nahi, is perhaps the best production by eight-year-old Antraal theatre group. Staged in Delhi several times earlier by different theatre groups, Antraal, led by Akbar Qadri and Azam Qadri staged their take at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi on August 16.

Written by known Hindi playwright, Asghar Wajahat, the story revolves around an old Punjabi woman, recognised as Mai or Ratan ki Ma (Richa Rai), who gets left behind in the newly formed Pakistan. Robbed of her son and family during the riots, she lives in her ancestral home. When Sikander Mirza (Anshuman Rounak) and family are allotted the same house as their residence after Partition, they begin feeling insecure about their financial independence. At first they try to involve political goons to remove the budhiya from their way, but soon realise she is a boon for them. Everybody calls her Mai and warms up to her. There are a few Islamic fools, who want Mai out of Pakistan, but these fools hold their own importance as they bring out the contrast with the true values of Islam.

Mai lives in Pakistan till the end of her days and is given a Hindu cremation by her Muslim beloveds. The play was apt for being staged on a day after Independence Day, (which was felt in the audience). It clearly represents the resentment faced by Hindu and Muslim communities after the partition. But why Jis Lahore na Dekhiya wo Jamyai Nahi, why being born and bred in Lahore is unmatchable with any other place, was never witnessed by the audience. Except during moments when one experienced the Punjabi and Urdu dialogues blending easily in Mirza’s home and neighbourhood. The elements of ‘love’ developing between Mai and Sikander Mirza’s family were also omitted notably, which lightened the emotive element. Mai’s death came as a surprise rather than a breakdown. The play stayed within confines of Hindu –Muslim unity.

Antraal’s adaptation of the play couldn’t manage to make a very strong statement, but the poetry in the writer’s mind was able to compensate for most of the omissions. The tear jerker, even after the rush felt by the actors, was able to provoke intended emotions.


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