Ajoka’s 40th Birthday Celebrated with Fanfare

Lahore (Qasim Ali)

Ajoka Theatre marked its 40th birthday with fanfare and a brilliantly organised cultural event at Alhamra Arts Centre. A delegation of eminent theatre practitioners from Indian Punjab attended the event. They included theatre director and playwright Kewal Dhaliwal, writer and professor, Arvinder Kaur Dhaliwal, famous Punjabi actor couple Anita Devgan and Hardip Gill and poet and peace activist Arvinder Singh Chamak. Celebrities associated with Ajoka at one tome and were specially invited included Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan, journalist Hamid Mir, Senator Walid Iqbal, leading actors Samiya Mumtaz and Savera Nadeem. A theatre exhibition was organised in the Foyer of Alhamra Hall 2 where costumes and props from famous Ajoka plays were put on display. During the programmes dramatic scenes from Ajoka plays and a video report of Ajoka’s four decades journey. Performers at the event included talented singer Sara Raza Khan, Meem Sisters Mahwish and Madeeha, while Alyzee Khan a dance performance about women’s empowerment. A new Ajoka song “jeevay ajoka” was introduced on this occasion. The programme ended with a scintillating qawwali performance by famous Sher Miandad qawwals. Kewal Dhaliwal spoke about his over 30 years of collaboration with Ajoka and said several of Ajoka plays are widely performed in Indian Punjab and four of Shahid Nadeem’s plays are in MA Punjabi syllabus in vary universities. Hamid Mir talked about the days when he toured with Ajoka playing the role of a despotic Kotwal and was persecuted by General Zia’s regime. Aitzaz Ahsan remembered the times when he helped arrange exchange between India and Pakistan of thousands of prisoners. He also paid tribute to the contribution of Shahid Nadeem and Madeeha Gauhar for peace and goodwill.