Alhamra Theatre Festival kicks off with a play about Partition

Published 31 Jul, 2019 05:02pm

Permasher Singh is one of the six plays that will be performed in the festival.

Photo by White Star
Photo by White Star

The week-long Alhamra Theater Festival kicked off at the Alhamra Art Center, The Mall on Tuesday with the inaugural play Permasher Singh by Maas Foundation.

Despite heavy rain a good number of theater fanciers came to attend the 21st festival organised by the Lahore Arts Council. The festival will feature six plays by different theater groups.

Maas Foundation presented its evergreen production Permasher Singh, a play adapted from short story of legendary Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, and got a good response from the audience.

The play is about a young Muslim boy, Akhtar, who gets separated from his mother during the partition. The boy is soon found by the story’s other central character, a Sikh man called Permasher Singh. Permasher proceeds to save the boy from an unruly mob, eventually adopting him against the initial reluctance of his wife.

Forced to make the boy adopt the ways of the Sikh community to survive, Permashar’s character is in contrast to the people around him. He encourages Akhtar to recite his lines from the Quran, fights to protect Akhtar’s identity as a Muslim and goes all lengths to take the boy back to his mother, regardless of how close he is to the boy. The story ends on a sad note, with Permashar’s efforts going waste, and the innocent cries of a young boy ringing out loud in the face of unsympathetic coldness.

The music is composed by Harinder Sohal, a prominent music composer, while poetry of Amrita Pritam was also used.

Maas Foundation president Aamir Nawaz, the director of the play, told Dawn that the group had performed this play 15 times from 2008 till 2013. This included five performances in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Preet Nagar, Rohtak and Kurukshetra.

“It’s a great experience to reproduce it after six years. At one stage we produced it so many times that it became the identity of Maas Foundation. Its music is composed by Harinder Sohal,” said Nawaz.

He said performing a dramatic piece of literature by a literary giant like Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi was not an easy task. “Although we had produced this play several times but owing to its rich scenes and visual effects, we have to put in extra effort each time to perform it.”

Maas Foundation has produced more than 21 theatre plays since 2003. These include Kafan, Book of Love, Teen Taray, Guddo and Mera ki Qasoor. The group has also performed in India, China, South Korea, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Maas Foundation is also going to perform at the 8th Colombo International Theater Festival 2019 on Aug 4.

Originally Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2019