A series of dramatic readings to feature subcontinent’s classic literature

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By Siddhi Jain

New Delhi– ‘Yaar Julahay’, an upcoming series of dramatic readings of writers who craft stories with the deftness of master weavers, is all set to premier on May 15, with the debut episode featuring Pakistani actress Mahira Khan reading Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi’s classic story, ‘Guriya’.

The Zee Theatre series of dramatic readings is spread across 12 engrossing episodes, and will air on DTH platforms — Tatasky Theatre, Airtel Spotlight, Dish TV and D2H Rangmanch Active. The name of the series is inspired by a Gulzar poem.

‘Yaar Julahay’ also brings to life the stories of progressive Urdu and Hindi writers like Gulzar, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai, Munshi Premchand, Amrita Pritam, Qurratulain Haider, Balwant Singh, Asad Muhammad Khan, Ghulam Abbas, Rajinder Singh Bedi and Intezar Hussain. The readers will be stars like Sarmad Khoosat, Sarwat Gilani, Nimra Bucha, Fawad Khan, Sania Saeed, Irfan Khoosat, Yasra Rizvi, Samiya Mumtaz, and Faisal Qureshi.

‘Guriya’ highlights the story of two best friends Mehra and Bano. Bano has a doll (Guriya) that resembles Mehra but Mehra doesn’t like that doll at all. With time their fondness and hate for the doll grows many folds. Towards the end comes an unorthodox twist to the storyline that subtly unfolds the mystery around the doll.

1916-born Qasmi was an Urdu-language Pakistani poet, journalist, literary critic, dramatist and short story author.

According to Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer — Special Projects, ZEEL, each episode of ‘Yaar Julahay’ features the immersive reading of a remarkable story that is as unique and complex as the subcontinent we live in.

“Each one of the featured writers has processed reality through characters that we can still identify with. It was a joy to work on these classic tales with Kanwal and Sarmad Khoosat because we have collaborated with them before and they always approach a project with a certain artistic sensitivity and deep respect for the material they are working with. Their sensibility was needed for a project as unique as this.”

Acclaimed director and actor Sarmad Khoosat says the series is inspired by ‘Dastangoi’, a tradition of creating and telling stories that defines South Asia.

He explains, “We have interpreted ‘Dastangoi’ in a contemporary way and there is also live and recorded music along with suggestive details articulating the theme of the story. For instance, when I directed Mahira Khan for the story ‘Guriya’, the set was strewn with dolls that in a way told their own story. They created an eerie atmosphere that augmented the narration and enhanced the inherent mood of the reading.”

Director Kanwal Khoosat adds, “This series attempts to introduce a newer audience to literature through a format that blends ‘Dastangoi’ with the Chamber Theatre technique where a reader has an environment, a minimal stage setting to not just read in but to perform, interpret and deliver a story in. In each reading, we have tried to maintain the integrity of the author’s voice even as we amplify it through the digital medium to reach as many people as possible.”

Watch Yaar Julahay’s first episode featuring Mahira Khan on May 15, 2021 on Tatasky Theatre. (IANS)

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