July Issue 2013
Prose from the Past
In a span of just two years, Zambeel has made quite a name for itself in the art of dramatic reading. Founded by Mahvash Faruqi, Asma Mundrawala and Saife Hasan, Zambeel has helped revive and popularise Urdu literary works and the oral tradition to a larger audience, which is a commendable initiative.
“The excitement of creating works that use a combination of performance and sound, and the wonderful response we have received since, has motivated us to take this performance genre further, setting ourselves a new challenge each time,” says Faruqi.
While Zambeel has previously taken on some of the more popular Urdu fiction works by writers such as Quratulain Hyder, Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, this time around they chose to recite works by a lesser known, but by no means lesser writer, Ashraf Suboohi in an event titled Bazm-e-Suboohi at T2F.
Asif Farrukhi, founder of the Scheherazade publishing house, familiarised the audience — a generally mature gathering consisting of Urdu lovers and writers — to the “forgotten but indispensable writer.” Born as Syed Wali Ashraf, Suboohi set his short stories in mid-nineteenth century Delhi. Through his writings, he offered brief glimpses into the lives of ordinary Dehliwallas. Despite moving to Lahore after partition, Suboohi retained the culture of Delhi in his outlook and mannerisms, and could be seen roaming the streets of Lahore in his sherwani and Turkish cap.
Mahvash Faruqi and Asma Mundrawala narrated two of Suboohi’s stories: Deevani Apa, which is about an eccentric yet lovable 60-year-old woman who brought good luck wherever she went, and Sahib Aalam which reflected on the lives of two friends — Sahib Aalam and Bankay Mirza — and the strange decisions these men took in the name of honour.
Faruqi and Mundrawala’s theatrical experience was evident from their clear and crisp enunciation, animated expressions and the fluidity and ease with which their speech and tone changed as they adopted the role of different characters. The sound effects that accompanied the narrative, managed faultlessly by Hajra Haider and Seher Naveed, added to the drama.
The writer is a journalist and former assistant editor at Newsline.