Manto’s rich repertoire of writings includes a series of Urdu plays written for radio.
Amongst these is the collection of ten plays under the title Aao.
Each play’s title begins with Aao… (Come) and the series is written around three primary characters, Kishore, his wife Lajvanti and his friend Narayan. The title of every play (Aao Chori Karein, Aao Taash Khaylein, Aao Jhoot Bolein… to name a few) sets the mood for humorous scrapes and escapades between the three characters. The delightful banter between Kishore and Lajvanti and the timely interception of Narayan in each new situation provides comical moments in the plays.
In 1940, when Manto left Lahore for New Delhi to take up the position of staff artist at All India Radio in New Delhi, he stopped en route at Amritsar where he wrote the preface for Aao, his first anthology of short humorous plays. Written over a span of five months, these plays “raise a variety of social and political issues” and ridicule those who “unthinkingly adopt Western culture.” (1)
“I was hungry and so I wrote these dramas. What I seek is appreciation for the few humorous dramas my mind has produced via my stomach, and which have made people laugh but not brought the faintest smile to my lips”. (3)
Zambeel Dramatic Readings revisits the Aao plays this August with a fourth new addition to last year’s three plays.
Aao Manto Sunein (2013) includes Aao Chori Karein, Aao Kahani Likhein, Aao Taash Khaylein and Aao Baat tau Suno. Performed by Ehteshamuddin, Mahvash Faruqi, Syed Meesam Naqvi and Asma Mundrawala, the plays are accompanied by live sound generated in the performance space as part of the sound track.
Aao Manto Sunein – coming up on Saturday 24th August 2013 at T2F (The Second Floor)
(1) Ayesha Jalal, The Pity of Partition. Manto’s Life, Times and Work across the India Pakistan Divide (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2013), accessed August 9, 2013, http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=e8slcR5dsTMC&lpg=PA96&ots=ajzRRqjWeN&dq=information%20on%20Aao%20plays%20Manto&pg=PA96#v=onepage&q=information%20on%20Aao%20plays%20Manto&f=false
(2) Urdu preface : Saadat Hasan Manto, Urdu Dramay (Lahore: Sang-e-Meel Publications, 2003), 265
(3) Ayesha Jalal, ibid