Resistance and Rasa in Pakistan
Girish Karnad
A CRITICAL STAGE: THE ROLE OF SECULAR ALTERNATIVE THEATRE IN PAKISTAN by Fawzia Afzal-Khan Seagull Books, Kolkata, 2006, 143 pp., 425
May 2006, volume 30, No 5

Although the subtitle of the book places its subject squarely within Pakistan, I should like to start with two events, separated by nearly two decades, which took place in India. In 1989, the Sangeet Natak Akademi organized a theatre festival in New Delhi to celebrate Nehru’s Birth Centenary. The uniqueness of the event lay in the fact that it was designed as a ‘Retrospective’ of Post-Independence theatre: personalities whom the Akademi had identified as builders of modern Indian theatre –most of whom were alive at that time—were invited to revive (where necessary) and present their most favourite or influential creation. The participants ranged from Utpal Dutt and Habib Tanveer to the young Ratan Thiyam. I was then the Chairman of the Akademi and half-way through the festival a bright young couple, Madeeha Gauhar and Shahid Nadeem, came to meet me. Political relations between India and Pakistan were pretty fraught at the time, so I was surprised to discover they were Pakistanis who had come all the way from Lahore to witness the entire festival.

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