It’s that time of the year again, when we take a breath and realise that it’s been another year. Zambeel Dramatic Readings is three years old. It’s been a productive time for all of us, and the last year has particularly put us on festival platforms in and outside Karachi.
In fact, the month after our second year mark, we were off to Lahore, our first domestic trip with a reading of Taoos Chaman ki Mayna at the Children’s Literature Festival (CLF). This was tied in with a set of readings of Manto’s Aao plays at Faiz Ghar, where we were privileged to have Manto’s daughters in the audience. Soon to follow on the home front was a reading of Asif Farrukhi’s Samundar ki Chori at the NAPA Auditorium, as part of ‘Pursukoon Karachi’. A fully packed theatre and an appreciative audience set the mood for what the year would be like. The 5th Karachi Literature Festival, the Sindh Festival ArtFest and the CLF in Karachi filled our February calendar. Then there was the NAPA theatre festival in March and the CLF in Islamabad.
In all this frenzy we were still creating new works. We have in this past year created six new readings, which include two stories for children. Of these, Raaja kay Do Seeng, adapted from a folk tale by Zara Mumtaz took the festival rounds and was immensely enjoyed for its live music component. Our summer projects brought the welcome inclusion of Khalid Ahmed and Nimra Bucha as guest readers in Dhal Gaya Hijr ka Din, based on letters by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz written during the poet’s imprisonment in the 50s. The support and encouragement by both actors reconfirmed our faith in our work as we began to (very slightly) spread our wings. The last project before we closed this three-year mark was a set of two stories by Ghulam Abbas, Ghulam Abbas kay Qalam se challenging to us as actors for their very atmospheric and descriptive nature.
We have seen new inclusions in our team, had guest actors return for more, and have found word about us spreading slowly but surely. We welcomed Zeerak Ahmed and Danish Faruqi who sang and composed the absolutely unforgettable score for Raaja. We thank Zara Mumtaz immensely for writing her story for our storytelling format. For the same project, Salim Mairaj joined us for CLF Islamabad trip in May. In Samundar ki Chori, Ali Rizvi lent his voice to a multitude of roles. Shatranj ki Baazi saw Meesam Naqvi’s return, along with his colleague Nazr ul Hasan from NAPA. Both actors gave a compelling performance and added to the dynamics of our repertoire.
This year also brought a tragic loss; the passing away of Musadiq Sanwal. A dear friend and enthusiastic supporter, Sanwal had composed and sung the touching soundtrack of Nazaara Darmiyaan Hai. Selflessly devoting his time to us when we were only a project old, Sanwal was keen to be on board for Taoos Chaman ki Mayna, a story he loved and one that he had promised to compose music for. His illness prevented him from taking this wish further and we mourn the loss of a very special and precious friend.
As we find our list of friends growing, we thank them all for their immense support. Zaheer Kidwai for his generosity with his knowledge and resources, and mostly for his love. For her spirit and enthusiasm, Sabeen Mahmud. May T2F prosper beyond your dreams
Maham Ali, a new friend at CLF who never says no, Adeela Suleman, who taught us to think big and gently led us along the way, Asif Farrukhi, our mentor and guide, Maliha Ahmed and Shama Askari who have listened to painful debates and endless ideas with great patience, Abida Abidi whom we can still call at any point of the day and ask “Auntie, mitti ya matti?” Seher Naveed and Hajra Haider, whose temporary absence made us appreciate their contribution more than ever, despite their claim, “we just press the space bar”… Naheed Yahya, who gives Zambeel its visual identity with an ownership and spirit of participation that leaves us humbled.
And lastly our friends and families, who have practically been part of each step of Zambeel’s evolvement.
Thank you all. We love you immensely and your watchful eyes make us more intent on raising the bar next year. Until we meet again, same time, same place, one year later.
25 September, 2014