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Venue: KAMANI Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi

written & Directed by: Shahid Nadeem
on 30th May 2011 at 6:30 p.m

a play on the life and times of Mughal Prince Dara Shikoh

Ajoka’s new play “Dara” is about the less-known but extremely dramatic and moving story of Dara Shikoh, eldest son of Emperor Shahjahan, who was imprisoned and executed by his younger brother Aurangzeb. Dara was not only a crown prince but also a poet, a painter and a Sufi.  He wanted to build on the vision of Akbar the Great and bring the ruling Muslim elite closer to the local religions. His search for the Truth and shared teachings of all major religions is reflected in his scholarly works such as Sakeena-tul-Aulia, Safina-tul-Aulia and Majma-ul-Bahrain. The play also explores the existential conflict between Dara the crown prince, and Dara the Sufi and the poet.
Dara’s period was a period when the Mughal Empire was at its zenith, both militarily and culturally. Aurangzeb was a warrior par excellence and a Machiavellian ruler, His sister Jahan Ara was a noted intellectual and mystic. Dara’s spiritual mentor Sarmad, the naked Sufi, was an outstanding Persian poet. Mian Mir and Guru Har Rai also lived in the era and had blessed Dara’s quest for truth and redemption.
The violent and devastating struggle between brothers Dara and Aurangzeb, the decisive role played by their sisters Jahan Ara and Roshan Ara,  the spiritual challenge posed by the naked sufi Sarmad to the authority of the muftis and qazis of the Empire and the growing discontent among the masses are elements which make “Dara” a gripping and powerful play. And of course like all Ajoka’s plays DARA has a very relevant message for our contemporary times.
Dara has been written and directed by  Shahid Nadeem and includes live qawwalis and songs based on the lyrics of Amir Khusrau, Sarmad, Bhagat Kabir and Dara Shikoh.


written by: Shahid Nadeem , directed by Madeeha Gauhar
on 31st May 2011 at 6:30 p.m

"Bulleh Shah" (1680-1758) lived in the times of the downfall of the Mughal Empire, Characterised by internecine conflicts, rebellions, civil and religious strife and total ideological and political chaos, times essentially not much different for the present day South Asia. Bullah Shah was a beacon of hope and humanism, His powerful voice called for tolerance and love, while there was bigotism and hatred all around. He promted a relationship with dog which was non oppressive and enabled poople to be religious and yet respect other people's beliefs. He wrote about common People, their sufferings, their hopes. He did not see any conflict between his mystic beliefs and his devotion to music and dance. His condemnation of the misuse of religion by clerics and opportunists was total and attracted "fatwas" of "kufr" on several occasions. When he dies, the mullahs of Kasur refused to allow him to be buried in the city graveyard. He was buried outside the city but today his grave is the centre of the city of Kasur. The city has moved to where Bulleh Shah Was Buried. That is the verdict of history and the living proof of the power of the mystics who preached love and sided with the people. The play "Bullah" is a tribute to the great mystic. It is broadly based on the events of his life, as communicated through his poetry, historical records and popular myths. And there is no dearth of dramatic episodes in the life of Bulleh Shah. His search for truth, his devotion to his mentor Shah Inayat, his conflict with the intolerant clergy and corrupt Nawabs, his opposition to the wars and bloodshed in the name of religion-all are incorporated as powerful scenes in the play. The play is also about the times of Bulleh Shah and has some lessons for the present-day Pakistan. It is a strong plea for love and peace, and an indictment against intolerance, violence and hatred.

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