Ajoka plays at Napa begin today | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Ajoka plays at Napa begin today

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Lahore-based Ajoka Theatre is to stage two plays as a tribute to a great freedom fighter of Punjab, Bhagat Singh, during the ongoing international theatre festival at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), Karachi, on March 14 and 15.

‘Rang de Basanti’ is to be staged on March 14 while ‘Lo Phir Basant Aee’ is to be put up on March 15.

According to the director of the two plays, Madeeha Gauhar, who had flown in from Lahore especially for the press conference, the plays are going to narrate the state of intolerance and bigotry that have gripped our society since the beginning of the 80s decade, against the backdrop of the spring festivals that have been celebrated in the subcontinent for centuries.

Madeeha Gauhar, addressing the mediafolk at Napa, said the Basant festival was an important landmark in the calendar of festivities in the subcontinent and had absolutely no religious overtones. It was a festival heralding the onset of spring with all its joys and merriment and was celebrated by all Indians, regardless of their religious affiliations. Yet most abruptly, it had been banned on the pretext that it caused a whole lot of fatalities.

“That is no big deal. All you have to do is to remove the ground glass from the kite-string,” she said. She thought that it had been banned at the behest of some religious zealots during the Zia years.

“Our mission is to generate the habit of debate on issues and inculcate tolerance where every individual has the right to his views. We want an intellectually magnanimous society,” Gauhar said.

‘Rang De Basanti’ is a celebration of Bhagat Singh’s legacy. The play seeks to correct many historical inaccuracies, according to its producers, and brings to the fore many little known facts about the life, ideology and trial of the legendary freedom fighter.

“We could not relegate the immense revolutionary struggle of Bhagat Singh for liberation from colonial rule. His being from a different religious fold should not be a hindrance to the recognition of his immense contribution,” Gauhar said.

‘Lo Phir Basant Aee’, the play to be staged on March 15, is the story of the vibrant, vivacious Lahore where the inhabitants believed that the walls around the city would protect them. However, the insidious enemy stealthily broke in, the gates crumbled and the city was held hostage from within by an enemy which was now stealing everything, their values, their culture their identity.

Spring is supposed to have arrived but the question that looms large is: will Basant ever be celebrated again in the besieged city? This again is actually an allusion to the regimented and constricted values being superimposed on society.

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