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Review of play Saara Ka Sara Asman: Life and struggles of the Pakistani Urdu poetess Sara Shagufta

By Mohammad Aleem

Watching a play always fascinates me a lot because it gives a unique opportunity to watch some lively performances which is hard to come by in other ways so easily. It helps you to ruminate something very serious and thought provoking.

For a long time, I had not been to any theatre. That’s why I was quite excited to see it. Luckily, I could watch this one at SSS 1 Auditorium at Jawahar Lal Nehru University, on Monday, 8th December 2014, at 6:30 pm.

Drama Review - Saara ka sara Aasmaan1The play was based on the life and struggles of the Pakistani Urdu poetess, Sara Shagufta, known as the Sylvia Plath of the subcontinent. Her life was a constant struggle and throughout the play which was penned by very versatile and prolific Playwright, Danish Iqbal and whose long association with the theatre and radio has provided him enough scope and opportunity to accumulate some worth treasured experiences. He doesn’t only write plays with heart, but also gets himself completely involved with its making, reshaping and reliving on the stage. That makes him much more mature and alluring not only as a good dramatist but as a good craftsman also.

Danish has had the fortune of working with some of the best theatre personalities of the country, right from Utpal Dutt to M S Sathyu, and Reoti Saran Sharma to Dr Sayeed Alam and younger generation of writers and directors.

He has won many National Awards, including the prestigious ‘Mohan Rakesh Samman’, ‘Public Service Broadcasting Award’ (Thrice), Best Play Award (Thrice) and the ‘Gandhian Philosophy Award’.

His passionate belief in the strength of our cultural tradition combined with a contemporary understanding of the changing dynamics in the art world gives Danish’s drama an immediate aesthetic appeal.

The writing of plays is very much associated with the stage and its related craft and paraphernalia. Sadly, only a few could think of writing plays in that fashion as he writes. I wish him a great success in future.

Sara Shagufta had lived all her life in very abject and hard poverty. She came from a very poor background and in absence of a caring and loving father, her vulnerability had increased manifold. It not only played havoc on her personal life, but in professional life also.

Drama Review - Saara ka sara Aasmaan2Through her constant struggle to find some space for her own and enjoy some freedom with kind of her choice, she brought forth many questions to the mind and heart of the audience. Sometimes it looked that freedom to think, write and express oneself in artistic form is not meant for Muslim women. Nobody in her society understands her well. Unfortunately, her three failed marriages push her in the deep recess of darkness, hopelessness and insanity. Even, her last love which was luckily fulfilling and contented could not give her that kind of time to live happily. She took her own life by inflicting harm to herself at that juncture when it was hoped that she would start living well with a loving and dotting husband if she chose to marry with that man who loves her the most.

It also raises some very pertinent questions in mind that why she did not fight back and tried to live a life without suffocating bondage of marriage. If she had done so, she might have lived a life differently. Why she did choose to surrender her aggressors and tormentors so meekly and submissively? She looks all the time lamenting on her fate and complaining and whining, though, we don’t expect such behavior from a person like her who is a poet and writer.

But in spite of all her failings and shortcomings, she fascinates and allures as a poet.

In “Sara ka Saara Aasmaan”, the less spoken about fractions of Sara’s life are highlighted through phases of passive submission, acceptance, grief, retaliation, humility and well, peace.

Sara Shagufta in her 30 years of existence (1954-1984) understood a world that failed to understand her, a world that continues to fail to understand her.

The play was well crafted and well played by actors. All did equal justice to add the glory of the performances, but some lead actors were exemplary well like the main protagonist, Sukanya Mukherjee and others.

This play was directed by Tarique Hameed and presented by the group, Wings Cultural Society, New Delhi.

They have presented many such good plays at different platforms from time to time, like very happening and prestigious theatre event, Bharat Rang Mahotsov organized by National School of Drama and Urdu Academy Delhi.

Although there was much constraint of space on the stage because the auditorium has not been constructed aiming to stage big cast plays, but, after all these deficiencies, they did their best and brought out a watchable play. The music which was composed by Ankush Gupta was also catching and inviting. Light was also used prudently in spite of minimal scope to do so. The set was suggestive and looked much more effective and it was done by Mahima, Jayana, Simran, Malika, combined.

I wish that this group will continue to stage such plays which have immense power to captivate and jolt the minds and hearts of the people.

[Mohammad Aleem is Managing Editor of India’s First Online Muslim Newspaper “IndianMuslimObserver.com”. You can know more about him by visiting his website at www.mohammadaleem.com. He can be contacted at [email protected]]

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One comment

  1. This review seems to be more about the drama writer Danish, and other peripheral things. It is less about the story of grief and lamentations of the subject, that happens to be Poetess Shugfata . In the opening the writer said it was drama about the tortured life of the young poetess, who was misunderstood by the society.

    Poets are generally too sensitive , and prone to be heart broken.Most of the poets have spent miserable lives. They are less fortunate than others. If we studied the life stories of the great poets of the past, we will find poverty, misery and unhappiness in their lives.They seem to have borne the difficulties well. The sensitive nature of the poets differentiates them from ordinary people.

    Sometimes it becomes too difficult to bear that kind of misery, and they commit suicide. May be Shugfta was under acute depression and decided to end her worldly existence. The writer has not shed more lighton her circumstances, so its not easy to assess her condition, Physical and mental.

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