The evening celebrated the prolific writings of the grand doyenne of Urdu short stories – Ismat Chughtai. She was the writer in focus at the Urdu theatre festival ‘Jashn-e-Darpan’ hosted by Darpan Theatre in association with the Department of Language and Culture.
The evening began with a conversation between Ismat Chughtai and Manto. A lighthearted banter between friends, leg pulling and mutual appreciation was part of the act called chuhalbaaziyaan. Both the actors Seema Khan and Captain Ahmed enacted the roles of Ismat and Manto perfectly. The Urdu play Chauthi ka Joda was written by Suhas Bhatnagar and directed by Ali Ahmed.
The tragic Chauthi ka Joda critiques the hypocrisy of the superstitions and customs maintained by society. It revolves around a widow, Bi amma, who lives in near-penury with her two young daughters – Kubra and Hamidah. The story focuses on Bi amma’s obsession to get Kubra married off as soon as possible, and the terrible outcome of Bi amma’s urgent and desperate attempts to get her married.
Ismat Chughtai writings are seen as one of the four pillars of modern Urdu short story, with her bold protagonists out of the ordinary sort of characters, Chughtai established herself as a significant woman literary voice in 20th century and was awarded the Padma Shri in 1976.