“Bringing Heer Ranjha to theatre is a small step towards revitalising people’s interest in classical Urdu literature,” said Zain Ahmed, director of the musical Heer Ranjha on Tuesday before its opening on Sept 7 at the Karachi Arts Council.

"These stories, and these writers, are our assets. But unfortunately, the younger generation is not even aware of them,” he added.

Created as a fundraising effort for The Citizens Foundation (TCF), a non-profit organisation set up in 1995 by a group of citizens promoting education, the production is inspired by the poetry of Waris Shah and uses Indian poet Kaifi Azmi’s script.

The cast includes Sanam Saeed in the lead role of Heer, with Arshad Mahmud and Samina Ahmed playing the heroine’s parents. This story of star-crossed lovers is an emblem of the Punjab, and has for decades been seen as a lesson in love conquering all.

Zain Ahmed is the artistic director at the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) in Karachi.

The play, created in collaboration with the Napa music department, features originally scored — though drawing on material written for the film by the same name — music that will be played live.

The Urdu musical is to be performed in Karachi from Sept 7 to 11, and then in Lahore on Sept 13 and 14, with the run concluding in Faisalabad on Sept 16 and 17. Details about tickets are available on TCF’s Facebook page.

Originally published in Dawn, September 6th, 2017