| 18 Jul 2024
Urdu Theatre Festival marks golden jubilee of AIR Urdu External Services

NEW DELHI: A three-day Urdu Theatre Festival commenced in Delhi from 16 March to mark the 75th anniversary of the External Services Division of All India Radio (AIR) and the golden anniversary celebrations of the Urdu service.

These plays will also be staged at different places in Jammu and Kashmir near the Line of Control in the last week of this month.

The External Broadcasts of AIR started in October 1939 in the wake of the Second World War and the broadcasts are done at present in 15 foreign and 12 Indian language services, reaching out to 135 countries. The External Services of AIR serves as an authentic voice of India projecting India's viewpoint on different issues to the world.

The Urdu Service of AIR, started in 1965 during the Indo-Pak War, has also played a historic role in reaching out to the Urdu speaking population in the Indian Sub-Continent and outside, with the objective of fostering friendly relations, strengthening people to people contact, as well as rejuvenating the shared cultural heritage among the people of Indo-Pak subcontinent.

Over the years, the Urdu Service of ESD has grown from strength to strength and played crucial and historic roles during the trials and tribulations. It has emerged as one of the most popular and significant part of External Services Division and has a large and dedicated following in Pakistan. The service has helped in bridging a cultural schism caused by the unfortunate political division. It has emerged as a platform where artists, scholars, litterateurs, performers from across the border are regularly invited.

The plays by eminent theatre groups of Delhi commence with 'Ek kutte ki kahani' by Wings Cultural Society, and directed Salima Raza. It is based on Saadat Hasan Manto's famous short story 'Tithwal ka Kutta' highlighting the futility of armed conflict between the two neighbouring countries. The play highlights doubts which Manto had about the future of Arts and Literature in Pakistan.

'Ghalib in Delhi' by Pierrot's Troupe and directed by M. Sayeed Alam is a comic take on what will happen if Mirza Asadullah Ghalib returns to this world again in the present time.

'Sara Ka Sara Aasman' by Maverick Entertainment and director Tarique Hameed portrays the tumultuous life of Pakistani poetess Sara Shagufta who struggled against the patriarchal and male oriented Pakistani society.