& occasionally about other things, too...

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Jawaid Danish wins the prestigious Ghalib Award

Jawaid Danish with the Ghalib Award
Jawaid Danish is a celebrated playwright in Urdu who has pioneered the portrayal of the problems and pleasures of the diaspora in his plays. Recently, he was awarded the prestigious Ghalib Award by the Ghalib Institute Delhi, a Government of India undertaking for his path-breaking creativity. GAB has a freewheeling chat with Jawaid

Q. Congratulations on the latest award. You seem to have made a habit of winning awards with a monotonous regularity. Please give more details about the award.

A. I’m flattered and humbled. I’m not in the habit of receiving such international awards.  It’s a pleasant surprise to receive the prestigious Ghalib Award for Drama – 2016.

Good heavens! It’s taken over 45 years for my plays to be considered worthy of such awards! Just kidding.

I was invited for the Sadaf International Award for Drama 2016 in Doha Qatar, recently, and while I was travelling with my Datangoi performances across the Middle East, I got this news while we were in Jeddah that I was being honoured with the Ghalib Award. The Doha award was for ₹100,000, and the Ghalib award for ₹75,000, I’ll definitely cherish the Ghalib award because of its historical significance.

Let me give some background about the Ghalib Awards. The Ghalib Institute was established in New Delhi in 1971 by the then President Fakruddin Ali Ahmed. It’s a fitting memorial to Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib. It’s managed by a Trust. The Drama Awards (along with other categories) were launched in 1973, with the purpose of promoting Urdu drama and literature. Among the award winners have been stalwarts of Indian Urdu drama and literature such as Ismat Chughtai, Habib Tanvir, Sheela Bhatia, Kartar Singh Duggal, Mohammed Hasan, A.R. Kardar, Rajinder Singh Bedi. I’m honoured and humbled to be in such august company.

Q. You have pioneered diasporic writing in Urdu in Canada. Your stories and plays are different from other writers in Urdu because you focus on the lives of immigrants in Canada. What motivates you to write about immigrants?

A.  My diasporic plays, or as they’re better known as Mahjari drama in Urdu, are different from the creations of other diaspora writers. The difference is that my plays are diasporic in theme and content, they talk about Canada and immigrant Canadians. There is not a single book of diasporic dramas or for that matter any other Indian language besides English at least in Canada, and perhaps anywhere in the West. Yes, there’s poetry, fiction, novel, but no plays on the problems and pleasures of immigrants.

As an immigrant myself, I’m especially interested in the lives of immigrants. I believe that unless you as a creative person have not experience through the cultural, emotional and psychological turmoil and tested yourself, you cannot write on immigrant issues with any empathy. There are better and mature plays written in most of the languages including Urdu in India, but none of them captures issues we face in everyday life as immigrants. It’s a different world, completely different experience.

Q. Which of your creations will withstand the test of time, and why?

A. I have 12 published Books to my credit, but I believe my collection Hijrat Ke Tamashey (Plays of Migrations) will stand the test of time.  It’s 26 years since the first edition was published, and up to now it has gone into reprint three times and the fourth edition is coming out next month.

The play is important because it was the first play of its kind, dealing with the life of immigrants. Prior to that, there were no plays on this subject in Urdu. A Bengali version, titled Bhopa has been published twice. Many of the plays in that collection have been translated into Hindi, English and Swedish. 

It’s received numerous awards; an M. Phil was done on the play by a student of Urdu literature at the Delhi University in 2013. A 13-episode serial was produced by Omni TV during 2007, which has had five reruns so far; it’s also been dubbed in English, too.  A telefilm Bara Shayer Chota Admi was produced with local artists in Toronto in 2013; it’s a controversial play from this book. 

My theatre group Rangmanch Canada has been active in organising an annual Hindustani Drama Festivals, showcasing the rich heritage of Indian Theatre, with multilingual drama presentations (not just in Urdu). I’m bridging the language barrier and bringing communities together.

Jawaid performing Dastangoi
Q. You brought Dastangoi to Canada and toured with it to the Middle East recently. Explain what this verbal narrative form and what does it seek to achieve?

A. I love challenges, I always try to do something different, some venture which is not been tested in Canada before.

Dastangoi is my new found love, It’s a Persian word, dastan mean tales and goi, is to tell a tale. It’s a 16th century Urdu oral storytelling art form.  One of the earliest references in print to Dastangoi is a 19th-century text containing 46 volumes of the adventures of Amir Hamza, titles Dastan e Amir Hamza. This art form reached its zenith in the 19th century, but it’s said to have died with the demise of Mir Baqar Ali in 1928.

Shamsur Rahman Faroqi revived it in the 21st century.  In recent years, it became popular in India, especially Delhi with Mahmood Faroqi and many others, with new tales and subjects.

I took the challenge of reviving this forgotten art form in Canada but wove the tales of our immigrant experiences.

The format style and dress code remain the same traditional 16th century, but the tales I’m telling are of present day immigrant life, problems and pleasures. It’s unique because I’m telling the story of five different characters, with five different dictions and dialects; it’s called Boli tholi in brij bhasha and Hindustani.  This form needs a captivating voice, and I use it to my full satisfaction. I’m confident that my audiences in Canada and overseas will remember 'Dastan Hijraton Ki’ for a long time.

Q.  Who among your contemporaries do you consider as writers of calibre in Urdu language?

A. We have some celebrated Urdu writers in Canada, but in my field (playwright) there is no contemporary. The stage of Urdu drama is vacant. We often have some Urdu plays staged, some are a comedy and some commercial plays, but the question is there is no published collection of Urdu drama in Canada.

No comments:

Post a Comment