A play of memories

THE LIFE and works of renowned Urdu poet and film lyricist Kaifi Azmi was celebrated at a dinner theatre presentation by the Indian People's Theatre Association titled 'Kaifi Aur Main' in Muscat last week.

The play, hosted by NPA Events, opened with a verse in Kaifi Azmi's own voice. This was followed by a sensitive and touching narrative written by noted lyricist Javed Akhtar. It was based on Shaukat Kaifi's book of memoirs Yaad Ki Rehguzar, as well as on Kaifi Azmi's writings, letters, poems and interviews.

Accomplished actress Shabana Azmi narrated with splendid emotions the writings of her mother Shaukat Kaifi, also a renowned actress in theatre and films while Javed Akhtar read out from Kaifi's writings.

The delightful narrations laced with humour threw light on some of the most memorable moments from the lives of Kaifi and Shaukat, right from the time Shaukat attended a Mushaira in Hyderabad in 1947, took an autograph of Kaifi Azmi and fell in love with him. In fact, she had first taken Sardar Jafri's autograph which was not much liked by Kaifi.

In their inimitable style, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar took the audience through a very personal journey and shared moments that will be cherished for a lifetime. This included Shaukat and Kaifi's unusual romance culminating in a marriage that lasted 55 years until 2002, Kaifi's social and cultural activities, his path-breaking work as a lyricist in Hindi cinema, his fight against paralysis and his relentless efforts to make his village a place of progress.

The narrative was interspersed with renditions of Kaifi's poems and songs such as Meri Awaaz Suno, Tumhari zulf key saaye main shaam, Main Yeh Sooch karr us ket darr sey, Ho key majboor mujhe, Itne baazu itne sarra, Tum jo Mil Gayee ho, Waqt ney keeya kya, Deykhe zamaane kee yaari, Heer, Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho, Karr chale hum fida, among others. They were sung by the young, versatile ghazal singer Jaswinder Singh.

The superb play ended with Javed Akhtar reciting his own delightful nazm on Kaifi Azmi and the audience giving the artistes a standing ovation.

After the play, Shabana Azmi presented a memento to the outgoing Ambassador of India to Oman Ashok Kumar Attri.

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