Friday, December 23, 2011
The genius of Faiz
DIWAN SINGH BAJELI
THEATRE Delhi had a taste of the legendary poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz's works at the recent Urdu Drama Festival.
The plays featured at the festival had titles from Faiz's famous poetic lines
T he Urdu Drama Festival organised by the Urdu Academy, Delhi at Shri Ram Centre recently was a glowing tribute to Faiz Ahmed Faiz, a great revolutionary Urdu poet. The plays featured at the festival had titles from Faiz's famous poetic lines and most of the poems sought to be dramatised were selected from his poems he composed while he was in prison.
The festival opened with “Chand Roz Aur Meri Jaan” presented by Wings Cultural Society. Remarkable for its slickness and imaginative design, director Salima Raza's production evoked a nostalgic mood. There were two locales - the prison where Faiz was kept and home where Faiz's beloved wife Alys Faiz was sitting. Through exchange of letters between the wife and husband various aspects of their lives, time and socio-political happenings were revealed. Alone in his cell in the prison and implicated in the so-called Rawalpindi Conspiracy case, Faiz kept writing poems. Alys writes about her struggle to look after their two daughters, Moneeza and Salima, her intense worries about the release of her husband from prison and her own struggle of living in Pakistan as a British expatriate whose husband is in prison.
These letters were read out by Salima Raza who played the role of Alys and Danish Iqbal as Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Both are senior theatre artistes. Their styles were restrained. There was nothing superficial about their delivery. Whatever they delivered, they delivered with inner conviction. In this process they established a lively rapport with audience and conveyed the world outlook of the poet that repression and gloom are only the transitory phase. The end of tyrants was inevitable. “Though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed/in rooms where lovers are destined to meet/they cannot snuff out the moon…”
The climactic scene was marked by the powerful rendition of Faiz's immortal poem Hum dekhenge, hum dekhenge/lazim hai ki hum bhi dekhenge. Some of the members of the audience joined the performers on the stage and the rendition acquired tremendous power, exuding revolutionary fervour. (In fact this poem was sung by Iqbal Bano, a Pakistani singer as a protest against the arrest of Faiz in 1951. In India this poem is hugely popular among progressive writers and intellectuals with left leanings).
The evening witnessed a surprise and such surprises are rare in the theatre world of Delhi. Faiz's daughter Moneeza, who happened to be in India, was invited to come to the stage. She spoke briefly about the sufferings of her mother and was overwhelmed to see the production and the emotionally surcharged auditorium.
Another play featured at the festival was “Mujhse Pehli Si Mohabbat Mere Mehboob Na Maang” which was presented by ACME. Written and directed by Ram Ji Bali who also played the role of Faiz. It is a well written script that dramatised Faiz's poetry against the backdrop of his political and literary activities. Action shifts from prison where Faiz was confined as a political prisoner to various venues of Faiz's activities. We meet in these meetings important leaders of the progressive writers association including Sajjad Zaheer. We meet Faiz as military officer who was promoted to the rank of Ly.-Col. (he resigned later from military). While meeting his comrades, who criticised his action to join armed forces, he justified his decision to join the army because the Second World War was basically a war against fascism. The play also revealed that Faiz was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union. Bali in the leading role of Faiz imparted deft strokes to the portrayal of his character.
Pierrot's Troupe presented “Jo Dil Pe Guzarti Hai” under the direction of Sayeed Alam. Written by Asma Mirza, it is a solo play enacted by Ekant Kaul.
Brilliantly directed and acted, the production presented recitation of great poetic pieces set to a music score that enhanced the meaning and emotional depth of the poems selected with care.
The poetic recitation from off-stage by Sayeed Alam had slow rhythm, depth and clarity of diction that stirred the audience emotionally and intellectually. The director's treatment of the recitation of poem “Hum Bhi Dekhenge” was remarkable for its ingenuity and impact.
Faiz's daughter Moneeza, who happened to be in India, was invited to come to the stage. She spoke briefly about the sufferings of her mother and was overwhelmed to see the production and the emotionally surcharged auditorium.