Referencing traditions of storytelling and the contemporary form of the radio play, the productions traverse time and geographical boundaries to interpret and enliven narratives through sound and recitation.
Beginning with writings from Ismat Chughtai’s rich repertoire, the group has since late 2011, presented twenty-six projects comprising of thirty-nine stories altogether, by authors that include Quratulain Hyder, Saadat Hasan Manto, Masood Mufti, Afsan Chowdhury, Raihana Hasan, Ashraf Suboohi, Asif Farrukhi, Munshi Premchand, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Naiyer Masud. With a shared background in theatre, the Zambeel performers imbue texts with a poignant expressive quality and perform narratives that are supported by a soundscape, enriching the aural experience of the audience through sound and recitation.
Zambeel Dramatic Readings was founded by Mahvash Faruqi, Asma Mundrawala and Saife Hasan in September 2011. Mahvash Faruqi passed away in June 2018 after a year-long battle with cancer.
Mahvash Faruqi was an educator with a background in theatre that began in Lahore and continued in Karachi. Furthering the legacy of her illustrious family, Mahvash performed in numerous well-known theatre productions for Karachi based theatre group Tehrik e Niswan, attended several workshops conducted by eminent theatre directors and toured internationally and within Pakistan. Mahvash also acted in television plays for independent production houses, but her main interest remained with theatre. Mahvash Faruqi passed away in June 2018 after a year-long battle with cancer.
Asma Mundrawalais a visual artist and theatre practitioner with a PhD from the University of Sussex UK. She is a Professor in the Department of Fine Art at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She has been associated with the arts and education and has been represented in national and international exhibitions. Asma’s association with theatre began with Tehrik e Niswan in 1997. Asma is the director and sound designer for Zambeel Dramatic Readings.
Saife Hasan initiated his career in the performing arts with the theatre group Tehrik e Niswan in 1997. He has performed in many prestigious theatre festivals internationally and in Pakistan Apart from his talents as an actor for stage, Saife is also a well-known actor for television and has received recognition for his work as a television director. He has over the past years directed popular plays for production houses like Hum Television and TV One. He now works independently and has recently established his own production house.
Hajra Haider is a Printmaking graduate from the National College of Arts in Lahore and currently is employed as a faculty member in the Department of Fine Art at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Hajra has been in charge of the sound cues for Zambeel Dramatic Readings from the very initial stages.
Seher Naveed is a visual artist and holds an MA from the Central Saint Martins College and a BFA from the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She has been exhibiting her works regularly in and outside Pakistan and is currently employed as a faculty member in the department of Fine Art at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Seher recently joined the team as the sound cues in-charge.
Naheed Zahra Yahya is an artist, illustrator and graphic designer based in Karachi. She has been teaching Basic Design at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture since its inception in 1990. Naheed is solely responsible for giving Zambeel Dramatic Readings its visual identity by designing the logo as well as every poster associated with the performances to date.
Mohammad Ehteshamuddin shares a background of theatre with the Zambeel Team through his association with Tehrik e Niswan. He has also been associated with the Katha Theatre group and has developed his career in the electronic media as a writer, actor and director for television and films. His film Shahrukh Khan ki Maut received many accolades in international film festivals and he has recently received acclaim for his performance in the film Chambaili. Ehteshamuddin has performed in the Aao Manto Sunein plays and Taoos Chaman ki Mayna for Zambeel Dramatic Readings.
Shama Askari began her acting career with the theatre group Tehrik e Niswan in Karachi. Her roles in theatre plays Insha ka Intezar, Zikr e Nashunida and Birjees Qadar Ka Kunba amongst others have earned her much acclaim. Shama has participated in theatre festivals in Pakistan and internationally. She has been a familiar face in television plays such as Kaafir, Daagh and most recently Court Room. She has also explored the medium of film with her appearance in Sarmad Khoosat’s Manto. Shama is a performer, and a valuable researcher and resource person for Zambeel Dramatic Readings.
Syed Meesam Naqvi graduated from the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) with a diploma in Theatre Arts. Since his graduation he has acted in well-known productions by NAPA as well as its Repertory Company including Sultan ka Faisla, Beech Bahar ki Raat ka Sapna, Dark Room and Marat/Sade. Meesam has also directed for theatre, including the critically acclaimed production of Vijay Tendulkar’s play Kamla. He has acted in and directed plays for television and most recently has worked as Assistant Director in well known Pakistani films Chambaili. Karachi say Lahore and Hijrat. Meesam has been an actor with Zambeel since 2013.
Nazr ul Hasan graduated from the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) in 2009. Now associated with NAPA as visiting faculty, he has acted in well-known theatre productions with the Napa Repertory Theatre, including Naik Perveen, Badshahat ka Khatima, Court Martial and Manto Rama. He has performed in festivals within Pakistan (PNCA 2009) and internationally (National School of Drama, Delhi 2013 and the Kolkata Literature Festival, 2013). Nazr made his debut with Zambeel Dramatic Readings in January 2014, in Munshi Premchand’s short story Shatranj ke Khilari and has since also performed in the children’s stories Molka Deo Sahab Bakery Walay and Raaja kay Do Seeng.
Danish Faruqi graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Education with a Master’s in Education Policy. He now works at the Happy Home School System as Assistant Director of Administration. He also creates electronic music and has produced the original scores for Zambeel’s productions, Samandar ki Chori and Bhayaanak Admi.