Treasure from the Archives

Ismat ChughtaiWhile many of us are familiar with Ismat Chughtai’s work, it is rare to discover her interactions with literati when she visited Pakistan. This treasure trove has been pulled out from the archives of Herald Magazine, courtesy Asif Farrukhi, when he interviewed her for the magazine in 1985.
Read this delightful interview to get an insight on Ismat’s views on the future of Urdu, the role of the Progressives, her praise for Manto, her story Lihaaf and the controversy around it.
Her playful, cutting and witty demeanor throughout the interview establish her without doubt as the audacious doyen in the annals of Urdu Literature.
Zambeel Dramatic Readings is grateful to Asif Farrukhi for sharing this document.
Click on PDF thumbnail to read the interview.
IsmatChughtai 1985
Posted in Archives | Tagged , ,

Kutub Khana – The Sharfabad Bedil Library

Reading room1Tucked away modestly in the bustling centre of Karachi’s Sharfabad area is a treasure trove for Urdu researchers, readers and enthusiasts; the Sharfabad Bedil Library. Established in July 1974 through the singular efforts of Dr Mohammad Zafeer ul Hasan Azeemabadi, this reading centre hosts a collection that ranges from rare books and journals to contemporary publications and newspaper archives.
The library is named after the poet Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil (1644-1720) whose impact on Rekhta influenced many great poets in the centuries to come, including Ghalib and Iqbal.
In Ghalib’s own words:
tarz-e-Bedil mein Rekhta Kehna
Asad Ullah Khan Qayamat hai
Situated on the second floor of the Sharfabad Community Centre, the library initiated its collection with 300 books and journals that were contributed by Dr Azeemabadi’s circle of literary friends. Now expanded to over a hundred thousand in number, the collection is a valuable resource for researchers and students of MPhil and PhD.
The library was formally created as a Trust in 1993 with Dr Azeemabadi nominated as its Chairman for life. In 2001, Dr Azeemabadi stepped down from his post because of illness. The library is managed by a board of members but the main spirit behind its strength is the presence of the Library in-charge Muhammad Zubair. It would be safe to say at this point that without Zubair Sahab’s tireless efforts to maintain and organise the collection, the library would not have been as invaluable as it is today. With bare minimum resources at hand, (the library does not own a computer) Zubair Sahab has meticulously catalogued every entry by hand and is essentially the human cataloguing system for the collection. Any request for a book by title, author or journal number will have Zubair Sahab whisking into the resource room to bring you the text within minutes. Should the library not have the requested item in store, he makes extraordinary efforts to locate the item in libraries in Karachi or other cities of Pakistan.
The Bedil Library’s collection has been built over time through personal contributions from patrons and supporters. Stumbling upon books that dated to 1913, I asked Zubair Sahab how the library acquired these. He explained that many contributors brought their books with them when they migrated to Pakistan and these books were passed on to the library after the demise of their owners. Often practical reasons also contributed to the collection. Moving house, migrating, a lack of storage space were just some of the factors. Apart from random contributions, the library has been fortunate to receive books and journals from prominent literary figures. These collections are stored in dedicated shelves labelled with the contributors’ names. Apart from adding to the richness of the library, these collections also reflect the contributors’ reading choices and inclinations. For this reason, Zubair Sahab keeps these contributions intact, despite the fact that one may find certain books in duplicate in other shelves.
Perhaps the most valuable asset in this category is the individual collection of Professor Mohammad Hasan Askari, who has donated his entire personal library to Bedil. Marked with his own handwriting and annotations, this collection occupies about six cupboards in the resource room.
The library consists of three rooms in the main reading section. The modestly sized entrance and reading room with plenty of natural light and breeze has shelves along its walls and a large working table at its far end. This room holds books from individual personal collections as well as a cupboard dedicated to Indian publications in Urdu. The second and larger resource room stores the remaining collection which includes journals and rare books. It is here that the library stores the complete or near complete archives of innumerable journals including Adab e Lateef, Adabi Duniya and Saqi. (Saqi was launched in Delhi by Shahid Ahmed Dehlvi and its first issue dates to January 1930).
The third inner room serves as a storage space for newspaper archives. The earlier dated ones have been bound and the remaining await cataloging. Zubair Sahab informed me that the library holds archives for the newspaper Jung from as far back as the early sixties.
The reading room receives readers on a daily basis and numbers vary from day to day. Despite its limited working hours (4pm to 7pm), it has a steady stream of regulars everyday. A hand written notice congratulates individuals who have recently completed their doctoral studies. The space provides a hushed and serious atmosphere, signifying the awe and reverence it inspires. An adjacent room serves as a lending library and includes books and magazines of interest for students and children. This section receives about fifty to sixty visitors per day and its collection is updated on a regular basis.
For a space of such academic significance, it is bewildering that it maintains it reputation despite its lack of resources. As mentioned earlier, it lacks basic amenities such as a computer and a photocopier and has fast run out of shelves and cupboards to store its valuable collection. The floor of the inner resource room is strewn with books waiting to be catalogued and stored. Newspaper archives remain tied in bundles as they queue up for binding. There are however, efforts being made to support the library as patrons and well-wishers have stepped in to contribute towards its needs. While Zubair Sahab delightfully looks forward to these facilities, he continues nonetheless, indefatigable and unwavering in his commitment to this enterprise.
For first time visitors, the experience of encountering such a wealth of knowledge can be overwhelming and breath-taking. Nevertheless, the Bedil library welcomes novices and aficionados alike, making room for every individual’s quest for knowledge and endeavour towards scholarship.
(1) Bagh e Bedil, 17 Feb 2010,, accessed 10 June 2015

Click on first image to view Gallery.

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Zambeel Design

WP-blog-designIn preparations towards announcing a new project, the first impression a viewer gets is visual. The announcement is set out by means of a poster, which captures your attention and sets the ball rolling. Images are shared across the social media network. People across the world and those who do not get an opportunity to attend a performance, know the work through its image. The design is therefore the essential visual identity of a performance. And we take it very seriously.
While we often elaborate on the performative mechanisms of our works; the actors, the content, the authors to name a few, we rarely discuss the process that gives the poster its final shape. A discussion on this cannot be complete without the mention of Naheed Zahra Yahya, a dear friend, designer and Associate Professor at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. Like many of our friends who stepped forward to support our venture from the first day, Naheed took on the charge of giving Zambeel its design identity.
Zambeel-finalogo2The process began with Muzzumil Ruheel’s calligraphy of the word Zambeel, masterfully penned in the Sulus script. This was then integrated with the title by Naheed to give the Zambeel logo its final shape. It is the calligraphy that now recurs in all our posters as a watermark or in many cases, elements of the design itself.
For every performance we identify a colour that reflects the mood of the content. Each poster then becomes an amalgamation of text, colour, shapes and forms to create the final product. Drafts are set out, numerous options are discussed on Skype screen share to arrive at a consensus. During this time Naheed’s desktop takes on the appearance of a quagmire of files; alternatives for fonts and colour, scale and resolution. Negotiating through this sea, she meticulously crafts the image, often while battling other deadlines and commitments only to deliver the product on time.
MolkaFINAL-for-WPTaqseem-web-higherWhile Zambeel’s design sensibility is abstract in nature and does not rely on the illustrative representation of its story content, the posters do employ the use of elements to illustrate with a more playful approach. Take for instance the poster of Taqseem, where the laam from the Urdu script is used to create a fence or divider, illuminating Manto’s stories on Partition. Or the Taaos Chaman ki Mayna poster where the geometric trellis suggests the design of the eejaadi qafas. In Shatranj ki Baazi, the dot motif from the Urdu script is rotated to suggest the chessboard and in Molka Deo Sahib Bakery Walay the alphabet zay is repeated to create the aromatic cloud of fumes from the bakery.
Zambeel’s design sensibility is also extended in other areas. You may have noticed the Anniversary logo that appears annually on our web pages. This is a circular motif created with nine repetitions of the calligraphic text. While the ‘One year on’ logo highlights one central motif in black to signify the first anniversary, the ‘Two years on’ design is slightly altered to mark two coloured motifs integrated with a monochromatic gradation in the remaining circle. Cleverly conceived, the concept is built around its adaptability as we move from one year to the next. This design is extended in our annual bookmarks as well as our Facebook header image.
Suffice to say, it is a laborious task and one that Naheed Yahya has fulfilled beyond our expectations. Across the seas where our voices don’t reach, it is these visual artefacts that represent Zambeel’s work to the world.
CLICK HERE to visit the updated Zambeel Design Page.
CLICK ON THE FIRST THUMBNAIL to view the album on Zambeel Posters.


Posted in Design, Dramatic Readings | Tagged , ,

Three years on…

Zambeel-3yr-logoIt’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
Posted in Dramatic Readings | Tagged ,

Ghulam Abbas

WP-Ghulam-AbbasA long overdue update on our Authors page comes soon after our last reading of two short stories by Ghulam Abbas.
More popularly known for his seminal stories Anandi and Overcoat, Ghulam Abbas’ treasure trove of writings is distinct in its measured and meticulous approach. In August this year, Zambeel Dramatic Readings presented Ghulam Abbas kay Qalam Se: Uus ki Biwi and Kun Russ; two narratives that brought Ghulam Abbas’ mastery of the medium to the fore.
Read more about the author on our updated Authors Page.
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Dhal Gaya Hijr ka Din – The journey of a project

The following essay written by Asma Mundrawala talks about the journey of the project Dhal Gaya Hijr ka Din, based on letters by Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Alys Faiz.
A slightly edited version of this is published in The Friday Times, 11 July 2014.
EVE OF PARTING – Asma Mundrawala TFT Issue 11 July 2014
Faiz Alys TFT
The Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is celebrated for his commitment to humanist values. But a lesser known voice is his British wife Alys, whose letters to Faiz in jail inspired a recent performance by Khalid Ahmad and Nimra Bucha in Karachi.
Director Asma Mundrawala describes the project’s journey to fruition.

It was about two years ago, in the formative years of Zambeel Dramatic Readings, when a visit to the publishing house Maktaba e Daniyal helped us discover the letters of Faiz Ahmed Faiz to his wife Alys from jail during the years 1951-55. The letters had been translated in Urdu by Faiz and published under the title Saleebein Meray Dareechay Mein. We were looking for all sorts of resources at this very initial stage of our journey and this seemed to be such a pertinent text. Yet the task was too daunting. 135 letters, each poignant and imbued with depth and texture, each representing thoughts from the philosophical to the everyday. How could one extract from the text and yet retain its essence. The result? I gave up. At least for the time being. But it kept brewing in my mind, perhaps for a better reason.
When the opportunity arose to present a reading on Faiz at a recent event, I knew that it was time to revisit the letters. But they needed a second voice; the letters of Faiz’s wife Alys. A text now out of print under the title Dear Heart – to Faiz in Prison opened the wondrous world of a courageous woman, struggling to keep her life in place, bringing up two little girls and living in an alien land in an atmosphere rife with uncertainty. My heart went out to her as she recounted to her beloved Faiz, their life in Lahore, making sure he never missed a precious moment about the girls, or news about their friends, family and the discussions around his imprisonment. The letters also gave an insight into the political conditions of the country in the 50s. Through her mention of food shortages, protest marches, martial law, rampant use of arms, Alys took the reader back to details about a time otherwise unknown to younger audiences.
Here was Alys with her unreserved emotions, never fearing the expression of her anger, love or vulnerability. There was Faiz, looking at the larger picture, always supportive, finding the right words to lend courage to his wife, to have faith and keep up her spirits “but for a few days more”. This was the conversation that needed to be developed into a reading.
It took months of note taking and reading both texts several times to begin to understand the shape the project would take. I felt the need to keep the chronology intact, and yet include in the spectrum not just insights into an era but also a range of emotions. There is humour in Faiz’s letters as he speaks about his getting so used to the amenities offered in jail (a radio set, a lamp, an armchair) that he isn’t sure how he will cope without the comforts of this lifestyle when he is released. There is the strong presence of Lahore’s weather in Alys’ writings and the reader vicariously experiences the heavy stillness of summer and the chilly winter nights through her words. As the first draft ran well over an hour, friends were called in for several critiques that resulted in a more succinct result. Mulling over the script for that long helps to soak in the text and know the characters as if they are extensions of one’s own life. My mind imagined Faiz’s cell in jail and his little garden. My head was filled with anecdotes of Cheemie and Meezu through Alys’ voice. And so when I saw Salima Hashmi in Lahore on a recent visit I was startled for a moment. This was Cheemie. The nine year old who woke up at seven to cycle and went to see Buzdil with Iqbal Mamu. This compelled me even more to bring these characters to life.
In a bid to diversify our work, the Zambeel team had decided to consider bringing in new voices for this project. We thought immediately of Khalid Ahmad and Nimra Bucha, both established artists in their own right. I am grateful that both agreed without hesitation. Rehearsals were no mean feat as we tried to find time slots that suited us all. We traversed the city and its various locales to meet at each others’ homes or workplaces, continuously thinking of ways to shape the work. The actors brought seriousness to the project from day one, a relief from critique that considers dramatised readings to be secondary to theatre performances. The texts seamlessly steered us to inform the renditions as Bucha explored the emotive voice of Alys and Ahmad brought to life Faiz’s reserved temperament.
Sound and music is integral to Zambeel’s work and it was essential to find the right tracks to support the text. Zaheer Alam Kidwai was forthcoming in his contribution by lending us a recording of the verses Mata e e lauh-o-qalam in Faiz Sahab’s voice from his private collection. Setting the mood as the first voice to be heard in the reading, it was followed by another gem from Kidwai’s library; Bahaar Aaee played on the sitar by Ustaad Imdad Husain and on the sarangi by the late Ustaad Abdul Majeed Khan. This, supported by other sitar underscores, lent the work the sublimity it demanded.
As the production began to take shape the Zambeel team set the wheel into motion. A poster was designed in keeping with the design sensibility of the repertoire, and announcements were forwarded to the press and on social networks to inform the audience. A meaningful moment for all of us was when Salima Hashmi dropped in to hear our final rehearsal. This was the closest any one of us could get to the characters in the text. While the actors understandably felt overawed by her presence, I did not dare steal a glance towards her throughout the reading. How could I? We were compelling her to revisit moments of her life that were etched in her memory, and her emotional response made it evident that despite reading, hearing and discussing these letters multiple times, it was still an overwhelming experience. And yet it is the large heartedness that Faiz’s and Alys’ family demonstrates that makes Faiz Ahmed Faiz “our Faiz” too.
For Zambeel Dramatic Readings this project was a continuation of its commitment to bring Urdu literature in a dramatised form to a live audience. Referencing traditions of storytelling and the contemporary form of the radio play, this collusion of literature and performance has enabled us to traverse time and geographical boundaries and enliven narratives through sound and recitation. Since 2011, the group has presented seminal texts to audiences in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The addition of Ahmad and Bucha in this project was in the same spirit of inclusion that has enabled many actors and musicians to contribute to Zambeel through their respective fields of specialisation.
On the day of the performance, as the audience sat in rapt attention, absorbing each word that was read by the actors, it was clear that we had brought the text to a younger audience that had probably not engaged with this aspect of Faiz’s work. The rendition by both actors illuminated their skill, which through engaged rehearsals, notched up their performance to a new level of excellence in the finale. There was a palpable sense of communication between the actors as they expressed in the voices of Faiz and Alys loneliness and despair, sheer joy or encouragement and most of all optimism for the future.

It is with this spirit of optimism that we ended the script; Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s prayer for peace and contentment for themselves, their children and for humanity at large. As we finally leave the letters, it is their enduring spirit of hope that we find resonating in our hearts and minds.

Dhal Gaya Hijr ka Din was performed in Karachi on 26 June 2014
Performed by Khalid Ahmad and Nimra Bucha and directed by Asma Mundrawala.

The published online version of this essay may be accessed at

Eve of Parting

Asma Mundrawala  TFT Issue: 11 Jul 2014

The Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is celebrated for his commitment to humanist values. But a lesser known voice is his British wife Alys, whose letters to Faiz in jail inspired a recent performance by Khaled Ahmad and Nimra Bucha in Karachi. Director Asma Mundrawala describes the project’s journey to fruition

– See more at:

Eve of Parting

Asma Mundrawala  TFT Issue: 11 Jul 2014

The Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is celebrated for his commitment to humanist values. But a lesser known voice is his British wife Alys, whose letters to Faiz in jail inspired a recent performance by Khaled Ahmad and Nimra Bucha in Karachi. Director Asma Mundrawala describes the project’s journey to fruition

– See more at:

Eve of Parting

Asma Mundrawala  TFT Issue: 11 Jul 2014

The Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz is celebrated for his commitment to humanist values. But a lesser known voice is his British wife Alys, whose letters to Faiz in jail inspired a recent performance by Khaled Ahmad and Nimra Bucha in Karachi. Director Asma Mundrawala describes the project’s journey to fruition

– See more at:

Posted in Dramatic Readings, English | Tagged ,

2013 – A Year in Retrospect

Zambeel retrospectIt’s been a productive year for Zambeel Dramatic Readings as we have brought you new works from inspiring literature, welcomed new friends in the team and taken our readings to new platforms in Karachi and in Lahore.


Clearly the most popular work and the one that received the most acclaim was Taoos Chaman ki Mayna by Naiyer Masud. Read first in March 2013, Naiyer Sahab’s endearing tale captured the hearts of both young and old. It was followed closely by two new readings in the summer that brought lesser-known works to the audience. Bazm e Suboohi that included two short stories by Ashraf Suboohi Dehlvi, introduced the quaint literary style of an author little known by audiences. While the same cannot be said about Ismat Chughtai, her play Dozakh, presented in June this year was a rare text that many were unfamiliar with.  August brought a revisit to the Aao plays by Manto, with an additional fourth play added to the set of three presented the previous year. The year closed with Samundar ki Chori, an apt text by Asif Farrukhi, bemoaning the loss of a city we live in and love.
Team: It has been our privilege to welcome actors who have contributed to our projects and shared a sense of ownership towards our work. This year, we delighted in the performances of Ehteshamuddin, who brought texts like Taoos Chaman, Aao and Samundar ki Chori to life. Shama Askari, our dear friend and well-wisher, performed in Dozakh bringing Chughtai’s acerbic wit to life through the character of Ūmdah Khaanum. Meesam Naqvi, a graduate from NAPA joined the team for the August rendition of the Aao plays with sharp precision and timing. Ali Rizvi took on the challenge of playing multiple characters in Farrukhi’s Samandar, reflecting his defined technique and training at NAPA. We have also had the privilege of being supported by musicians who have lent their contributions to our readings. The tradition began with Musadiq Sanwal last year for Nazaara Darmiyaan Hai, and continued this year with Rakae Jamil generously contributing his time with an original score for Dozakh, and Danish Faruqi lending an evocative mood to Samandar ki Chori.
Platforms: We are grateful for the recognition received through the year as we spread our wings and reached out to new audiences. The year began with a reading at the 4th Karachi Literature Festival, where we were pleasantly surprised by the turnout as people scrambled for standing room, space on the floor, and even in the corridor where the reading was being live streamed. This year we were also invited by the Oxford University Press to present two projects at their bookshop on Khalid bin Waleed Road. A happy surprise came in the form of an invitation to present Taoos Chaman at the Children’s Literature Festival in Lahore, coupled with an invite to present the Aao radio plays at Faiz Ghar in Lahore under the banner of The Maya Tree, a literary journal published at the Beaconhouse National University. The year-end multi tiered art and performance festival Pursukoon Karachi was the hosting event for Samandar ki Chori, allowing us the opportunity to perform at the NAPA Auditorium for a wide reaching audience. Our first and last projects through media were with our friends the Urduwallahs in Mumbai, with whom we collaborated in two projects; the Kalaghoda Festival and most recently the Mood Indigo Festival at Indian Institute of Technology Powai (IIT). Both these representation were through a recorded reading of Saadat Hasan Manto’s Khol Do, by Mahvash Faruqi.
WordPress blog: We have also shared our interest in literature and the stories we have read by publishing posts on our WordPress blog from time to time this year. The most outstanding response has been to the two photo essays published in April and November this year, where our site stats hit the roof! Posted after the reading of Taoos Chaman ki Mayna, the photo album titled The Landscape of Taoos Chaman generated interest by revisiting the sites mentioned in the story itself. Later this year, the play Aao Baat tau Suno created enough curiosity in our minds to seek out vintage and archival images of all the products mentioned in the play and generate the album Arey Kishore – Aao Baat tau Suno! Both these essays have been thoroughly appreciated and we have had appreciative comments from across the world for them. Other project related posts have regularly appeared through the year and our venture to highlight information on writers through a dedicated page Authors in April has had an encouraging response.
We are also now on Twitter and you may follow our tweets as we update you about our posts, albums, sound bytes and announcements. Don’t forget to visit other pages on this WordPress site, stop by at Zambeel on SoundCloud, and do LIKE our Facebook page so you can follow our work.
We wish you a happy, safe and prosperous year ahead and look forward to a productive year ahead.
All good wishes,
The Team at Zambeel Dramatic Readings
Posted in Dramatic Readings, Urdu, Zambeel | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Arey Kishore – Aao Baat tau Suno!

WP Aao slideshow titleIf you have read or heard our rendition of Manto’s play Aao Baat tau Suno, you could not possibly have missed the infinite list of chores Kishore is expected to complete on a restful Sunday.
From his wife’s herbal medicines and everyday shopping, to his father’s random requests for shoelaces, cough syrup and tobacco, and from his neighbour’s grocery list to his brother Gopal’s school supplies, Kishore can only consider ending his life by the end of the day. He must be credited however, for remembering each item, which we witness through his frenetic monologue at his friend Narayan’s place.
The list, extensive as it may have been, has sparked our curiosity into looking for some of the objects and what they may have appeared to be like in the late 1930s and early 1940s. One cannot promise that these results are accurate, but this set of images puts together products, advertisements and objects from that period of time in a part fictitious, part historical collage.
Zambeel Dramatic Readings is grateful to Srila Chatterjee for her assistance in identifying some of the image resources.

Click here to view the album.

Posted in Dramatic Readings, Manto | Tagged , , , ,

Two Years On…

Z Two yrs on FINAL
Time flies. Who would have known that a simple request by Maliha Ahmed to read a short story at her alumni association meeting would grow into such a stimulating experience for all of us.
But here we are, two years on, gradually learning and cultivating knowledge through an inspiring journey that has enriched us.
 We are humbled by the support we have had through these two years and cannot thank our friends and supporters enough. Our repertoire has grown and in the past year we have had the good fortune to have our friends Ehteshamuddin, Shama Askari and Meesam Naqvi join our team as actors. Their stellar performances have added to the texture and character of our work and we are delighted to have them on board.
A huge thanks to Musadiq Sanwal and Rakae Jamil who have contributed original scores for our readings. More importantly, it is their spirit of generosity that we are indebted to and we hope to continue working with them in the years to come. We also welcome Danish Faruqi as our most recent contributor, who has composed the music for our forthcoming work in October this year. Also a warm thank you to Zaheer Alam Kidvai who took time out for us and shared his wonderful music library to help create the soundtrack for Taoos Chaman ki Mayna. It’s always lovely to see you at our readings Zaheer!
A special thanks to Asif Farukhi for his guidance and support. We are grateful for your time and generosity in sharing your knowledge. Your familiar presence at our readings has reassured us and we hope to see you there always!
Naheed Yahya, who despite all her commitments has been the designer for our posters, our identity and like last year, the special anniversary logo. Thank you Naheed for being on our team. Hajra Haider and Seher Naveed, who silently and efficiently accomplish the very vital aspect of managing sound cues during our performances.  Moeen Faruqi who has been a keen critic and has always been present to photograph our events. Sabeen Mahmud at T2F who has from the very beginning shown her confidence in us and supported us in every way. We have enjoyed every moment of performing at T2F and look forward to many more such occasions.
A special thanks to Chaand at T2F who has always organised the pre production details with complete efficiency. We cannot do without you Chaand!
This year also saw support from organisations such as the VASL Artists’ Collective, with whose encouragement we were able to perform projects such as Shigaaf, Taoos Chaman ki Mayna and Aao Manto Sunein. Thank you Adeela Suleman and Gemma Sharpe for your love and faith in us.
In the past year we have made new friends across continents and through the country. We have established links with the Urduwallahs in Mumbai with whom we collaborated in a project in Mumbai, the Faiz e Zabaan Team in UK that has very kindly spread the word about us, and most recently the Maya Tree in Lahore, who mentioned our work in their literary Journal in 2012. We look forward to more collaboration with all of you. We have performed at the 5th Annual Urdu Conference in December 2012, the Karachi Literature Festival in February  2013, and met new audiences at readings for the OUP Bookshops and at the CBET (Centre of Biomedical Ethics and Culture, SIUT) in Karachi. We thank all our friends and well-wishers who have invited us to perform and given us the opportunity to present our work.
But most importantly, it is you, our audience that has made us richer and encouraged us to grow. We are indebted to you for the support you have shown us and continue to strive towards excellence to meet your expectations. And to all our friends and family who have suffered countless rehearsals and have always been there in the audience for us, your presence means a lot to us.
As we move towards another year ahead brimming with activity, we look forward to many exciting new projects just around the corner. We are ever grateful for your love and support.
Asma Mundrawala, Saife Hasan, Mahvash Faruqi
September 2013
Posted in Dramatic Readings, storytelling, Urdu, Zambeel | Tagged , , ,

On Manto’s radio plays and Zambeel

WP blog AaoWhen Manto’s centenary was observed in 2012, there was a varied and extensive contribution by writers, publishing houses, theatre groups, online platforms and newspapers to present their works as a homage to the one of the most prominent writers of the subcontinent. Surveying the extensive canvas, Mavra Tanveer observes in her paper “Sound and Silence: Manto’s Radio Drama and the Critical Deficit”:
“While these efforts are highly commendable for their spirit of celebrating Manto in different formats, none showcases a single drama out of Manto’s extensive oeuvre. However Zambeel Dramatic Readings recreated three of Manto’s comic radio plays Aao Chori Karein, Aao Kahani Likhein and Aao Taash Khaylein. The power of the dialogic interplay between the same three characters in each situational comedy was highlighted with ‘musical tracks, [and additionally] the sounds for every story were generated live during the reading, very much in keeping with the tradition of early radio drama.’ [Zambeel Dramatic Readings, 2012]. In this centennial year, Zambeel’s production of these plays is the only instance of a focused project on Manto’s radio drama and the aural aesthetics of the genre itself.”
Tanveer also mentions an All India Radio progress report from 1939 that mentions Aao Kahani Likhein as one of the most successful productions.
Zambeel presents Aao Manto Sunein in 2013 with an additional fourth additional play Aao Baat tau Suno. (Saturday 23rd August 2013).
Click to hear sound clips from Aao Chori Karein and Aao Taash Khaylein and Aao Baat tau Suno.
Mavra Tanveer, “Sound and Silence: Manto’s Radio Drama and the Critical Deficit”, The Maya Tree. Liberal Arts Review, 3 (2012): 46-47
Posted in Dramatic Readings, Manto, Zambeel | Tagged , , , ,