Badri Raina’s marvelous Professor Higgins poem (But the ‘Equality idea’ ain’t dead)

Prof. Higgins haranguing Eliza in My Fair Lady

Another marvelous poem by Badri Raina in Delhi, published in ZNet, referencing Prof. Henry Higgins’ famous line in the musical My Fair Lady based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. I will differ from Badri ji only to humbly offer that far from being dead, the ‘Equality idea’ is alive and kicking. It is in fact the growing prevalence of this idea that so threatens the beneficiaries of oppressive systems that they feel compelled to churn up fascism and bigotry, that get amplified in the news and social media. Am I wrong? 

Remembering Professor Higgins

We raised eyebrows when Higgins asked
“why can’t a woman be more like a man?”
Look how whole nations now build upon
That thought in the Professor’s brain. Continue reading

The story behind the viral ‘gwandne’ song

Collage of Bushra Ansari’s YouTube channel screenshots, 4-30 April 2019.

I wrote this piece a few days after Neelum Bashir’s Punjabi poem ‘Humsaye Maa Jaye’ (children of the same soil) went viral over India and Pakistan. Originally published in The Wire, 6 April 2019, the updated piece below includes the revised poem-script that Neelum Apa kindly sent me. Her talented performer sisters Bushra Ansari and Asma Abbas’ musical rendition caught public imagination, cutting through the rising tensions between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama attack, forcing even the Indian media, including television channels in the thick of hectic pre-poll reporting, to take note. Updates include the the jump in Bushra Ansari’s YouTube channel subscriptions, from 34 to over 25,000 in just three days, and to nearly 70,000 by 30 April, besides millions of views and shares. 

Continue reading

Women warriors for peace and a viral Punjabi music video

Asma-Bushra-wall

A poetic dialogue between two neighbours separated by an insurmountable wall goes viral. Pictured here: Asma Abbas and Bushra Ansari, performing their sister Neelum Bashir’s poem.

There’s been so much going on that I haven’t shared any updates here for a while. On Tuesday 11 Feb., Bilawal Bhutto Zardari gave a talk on Pakistan and the Welfare State at Harvard that I reported on: “We can’t say we’re too poor to look after our people”, published in The News on Sunday, 17 Feb.  I was going to post it with an important paragraph that got left out of my report when I cut it down, but the Pulwama attack of 14 Feb overshadowed everything. I’ll share it at some point. Continue reading

Amateur theatre group from Pakistan tours USA with Partition stories

My article on Islamabad-based group Theatre Wallay’s theatre project ‘Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn), that toured the US recently, published in Scroll.in today – Partition retold: A Pakistani theatre group dramatises survivor stories to shatter myths. Below, the unabridged version filed on Oct. 26.

DaghDagh Ujala-Isbd

Scene from the play, Islamabad performance. Photo courtesy: Fizza Hasan

Beena Sarwar

An amateur theatre group in Pakistan has started its tour of the USA with a dramatisation of Partition stories based on interviews of Partition-survivors by group members.

The play’s title Dagh Dagh Ujala’ (This Stained Dawn) refers to the first words of the Urdu poem ‘Subh-e-Azadi’ (Dawn of Freedom) by the acclaimed poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz. Penned in 1947 on the eve of India’s Independence from British rule and its bloody partition, the poem is popular on both sides of the border. Continue reading

“I lay his poems on my lips and sip at leisure” – Gulzar on Naseer Ahmed Nasir

2014- Man Outside HistoryMy piece for the weekly Aman ki Asha page on July 9 and on the TOI blog

The iconic lyricist and poet Gulzar in his preface to Dr Bina Biswas’ translation of a collection of Urdu poetry pays rich tribute to Pakistani poet Naseer Ahmed Nasir

———

A Man Outside History
Poems of Naseer Ahmed Nasir
Translated into English by Bina Biswas
Foreword by Gulzar
Free Verse, an imprint of LiFi Publications,
New Delhi, 2014; Pp 173; INR 300
(available in Pakistan with Messers Al Abbas International, Rana Chamber, 2-Dil Muhammad Road, Lahore)

————-

Continue reading

Inspiring musical video tribute to Ahmed Faraz from his son Sarmad

The late great poet Ahmed Faraz’s son Sarmad Faraz pays tribute to his father, by releasing a music video titled “Shayar”, which features the poet reciting his verses in his inimitable manner.

Sarmad is a musician and is best-known for being in the band Corduroy. He chose this particular poem of his late father because it espouses resilience, individuality and change.

The poem “Shayar” is part of Ahmed Faraz’s first-ever published book Tanha Tanha (1954). (Read more below).

Continue reading

The ‘Bulbul-e-Kashmir’ sings for Indo-Pak peace

This personal blog post is dedicated to an inspiring couple in Mumbai and to the editor who introduced us: May our tribe increase.

Enduring ties: Seema Sehgal at PIPFPD, Karachi, 2003, with me and my daughter Maha. Photo by Ved Bhasin.

I met Seema Sehgal in Karachi, in December 2003 at the 6th Joint Convention of the Pakistan India Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD). Ved Bhasin, the respected Editor of The Kashmir Times, Jammu, introduced us. “Seema,” he said, “is known as the Bulbul-e-Kashmir (Nightingale of Kashmir).”

Ved Bhasin: Shukriya

The petite and unassuming Mumbai-based ghazal singer from Jammu has none of the airs one might expect from a performer of her calibre. She is not only an amazing artist, but she also has a deep and abiding interest in Urdu poetry and in Indo-Pak peace. When relations plummeted between the two countries following the nuclear tests of May 1998, Seema dedicated her new album ‘Sarhad’ to peace between the India and Pakistan. Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: