Dubai: A powerful Urdu play to be staged in Dubai this weekend hopes to revive the art of letter writing, even as it highlights the fatigue developing against modern digital communication.
Titled Mian Biwi aur Wagah, the play is directed by Dhruti Shah D’Souza and written by Amna Khaishgi and Ehtesham Shahid, all Dubai-based artists.
Dhruti said the play revolves round a man, his wife and a “mysterious figure” Wagah, symbolic of the border between India and Pakistan. Although the story is rooted in the era of Partition that is so deeply etched in the history of the neighbours, the focal letters go beyond the obvious to embrace the nostalgia and human experiences in the socio-political narrative.
Seven letters, four acts
“There are seven letters and four acts in all,” said Dhruti. A storyteller and playwright herself, she said, “I’ve being doing stage productions for 13 years. This is the seventh play that I am directing. All along, I have believed that the art of storytelling needs to be revived.”
For Shahid, the letters’ co-author, the play is a generation’s response to technology-driven communication. “As a journalist dealing with digital technology, I understand its overwhelming presence, but also realise there is a fatigue developing against it. That’s why it is important to push the art of traditional letter writing, especially in Urdu which is going through a difficult phase,” he said, adding that letters bring about a special connect between people as they involve a tangible experience.
Amna said the letters staged have been inspired by true stories and experiences that remain timeless.
A journalist and a documentary filmmaker, she said she co-authored the play in Urdu because she was passionate about the language. “My grandfather was a renowned author who published an Urdu and Persian handwritten encyclopedia – Farhanq e Aamra - in India before migrating to Pakistan. With the Partition dividing families and friends across the border, letters have always been a part of our lives. I still remember the letters I used to write as a child for my grandmother in Karachi when she wanted to get in touch with someone in India,” she said.
Besides writing the play, Amna also features as Biwi in the play.
WHAT: Mian, Biwi aur Wagah
WHEN: August 11 & 12, 7.30pm
WHERE: ALSERKAL AVENUE, Al Quoz