Ajoka theatre’s plays have been a source of socially relevant and meaningful entertainment for the audience across the borders and now two books featuring the original plays written by Ajoka’s Shahid Nadeem have been published in India. A collection of 15 plays titled “Shahid Nadeem de Natak”, transliterated in Gurumukhi by Dr. Arvinder Dhaliwal has been published by Chetna Parkashan publishers in Ludhiana.
The plays transliterated in Gurumukhi includes Dara, Bulha, Lo Phir Basant Aaey, Teesri Dastak, Jhalli Kithay Javay, Barri, Dukh Darya, Mera Rang day Basanti Chola, Kaun Hai yeh Gustakh, Anhi Maai Da Sufna and Aik thi Nani. “Plays from a Fractured Land” is a collection of plays highlighting the traumatic incidents of partition of Punjab. It also includes the creations of eminent playwrights writers like Gursharan Singh Suarajbir, Atamjit Singh, Ajmer Singh Aulakh and Pali Bhupender Singh.
The second book is an English-language anthology “Plays from a Fractured Land”, edited by Atamjit Singh, and published by Sahitya Akademy, New Delhi. The anthology includes Shahid’s “ Dukh Darya”. It is the story of Shehnaz and her daughter, skillfully interwoven with stories of the suffering of women, based on historical events and mythology to create a powerful and tragic narrative.
Atamjit Singh in his forward says :
“Shahid, in experiencing the pain of Partition, transcends the geographical and religious barriers of both the countries. River of Sorrow is a quintessential Punjabi play which talks of the oppression as well as magnanimity of the Punjabis; it is history as well as myth; and, it represents real politics as well as cultural realities…Nadeem’s composition is not linear, it is a very intricate inter-text, multi-layered and polyphonous. This is how it operates at multiple levels; it is about the Partition, trauma, suffering and women. The hegemony of feudal and patriarchal cultural mores in both Punjabs is responsible for the plight of women… Shahid Nadeem’s River of Sorrow is a unique text.”
Ajoka’s executive director Shahid Nadeem acknowledged the collaboration with the Indian theatre and literary community and stressed that cultural exchanges and partnerships are very important in normalizing the tensions. He hoped that Ajoka’s plays will provide a clear understanding of major social issues and the shared cultural heritage between the two countries.