The choice of working with Ismat Chughtai’s works emerged from a deep respect for the author’s writings and their indisputable quality of conveying very tangible concerns with subtlety and humour. Her use of colloquial Urdu and the colourful employment of diction were for us not just a means of paying homage to the mastery of her art but also to the Urdu language itself.
Ghoonghat (The Veil) touches upon notions of pride and arrogance that supersede the importance of personal relations. Masterfully woven by the author, the narrative speaks of the superficiality of traditions and customs and the false pride that rules the lives of the protagonists Kalay Mian and Gori Bi over a span of thirty years. Humorously told, yet intensely reflective of deep sorrow, this short story is skillful in its poignant simplicity.
Bachho Phuppi (Aunt Bachho) narrates the tale of the venom-spewing protagonist Badshahi Khanum (Bachho Phuppi) through the eyes of her niece. This colourfully written short story is exemplary in its use of language, wit and humour and touches poignantly on the sensitivities of human relations. Ismat’s art lends a nuanced reading into the character of Bachho Phuppi whose seemingly caustic nature is layered to reveal a more complex personality.
Manto’s essay on Ismat is a celebratory text that reveals his admiration for a contemporary writer who shared his interests in writing about the social fabric of the times. Humourous, ardent and appreciative, his essay introduces the listener to the work and personality of Ismat Chughtai and the high regard both writers shared for each others’ work. The excerpts selected for this performance lend an insight into the vibrant times that both authors belonged to.
Manto’s Essay on Ismat: Saife Hasan Ghoonghat and Bachho Phuppi: Mahvash Faruqi and Asma Mundrawala
Title calligraphy: Muzzumil Ruheel
Poster Design: Naheed Z. Yahya
Music Compilation and Direction: Asma Mundrawala
Performance dates: January 2011, OAKS Alumni Association, Koel Gallery Karachi
17 February 2011, Behbud Association, Karachi
25 March 2011, T2F, Karachi
24 September 2011, Habib Bank Head Office, Karachi
25 September 2011, T2F, Karachi Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org