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Australian play ‘Dozakh’ is off to Jashn-e-Rekhta Dubai

Community theatre stalwart Saba Zaidi Abdi hopes that her Adakar Theatre Group will gain exposure to a wider, international audience at Dubai festival.

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In a remarkable celebration of Indian culture and the Urdu language, the Adakar Theatre Group from Australia is poised to present their acclaimed Urdu play Dozakh at the prestigious Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Dubai. This highly anticipated event gathers expats from India, Pakistan, and the broader South Asian community, providing a significant platform for artists to showcase their work and celebrate the rich tapestry of Urdu expression.

Saba Zaidi Abdi, the director of Adakar, expressed her gratitude and excitement for the opportunity to present their work at such a renowned festival.

“It is a humbling moment, a huge honour for me and our theatre group Adakar to present at a festival of Indian culture and Urdu language like Rekhta,” Ms Abdi told Indian Link.  “Jashn-e-Rekhta  is a celebration of the arts that the most significant creators of our times are attending, to showcase their work. To be sharing a platform with them is a huge honour in itself.”

Adakar Theatre Group from Australia is poised to present their acclaimed Urdu play, "Dozakh," at the prestigious Jashn-e-Rekhta festival in Dubai.
Saba Zaidi Abdi (L) with Bobby Mallick (R) in Dozakha. Photo: Supplied

The selection of Dozakh for this prestigious festival is underpinned by its universal appeal and profound exploration of themes by its esteemed writer, Ismat Chughtai. This classic short play captures the bittersweet comedy of a bygone era, portraying the challenges faced by women confined to lives of dependency and oppression within the domestic sphere. Saba Zaidi Abdi emphasized Chughtai’s visionary approach, labeling her as an iconoclast and trailblazer whose work transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries.

Anticipation surrounds the expectations from the Jashn-e-Rekhta festival, with Ms Abdi expressing her hopes that Adakar Theatre Group and their work will gain exposure to a wider, international audience. Recognizing the importance of acknowledging overseas work, she sees the festival as a valuable opportunity for deserved appreciation and recognition.

Dozakh unfolds as a poignant story of survival, delving into the confronting dynamics of age, gender, morality, social values, and relationships. Ismat Chughtai, a trailblazing feminist writer of Indian literature, challenged societal norms with her work centered around class conflicts, female sexuality, and gender politics, contributing significantly to the Progressive Writer’s movement.

Speaking about the play, Ms Abdi said, “We prepared Dozakh in 2022 This play is very close to my heart. Ismat Chugtai has this very deep penetrating eye in the human psyche and the dynamics of a relationship, whether they are social, political or personal. She has been able to plays write stories that have universal and personal appeal.”

Established in 2014, Adakar is a not-for-profit theatre and cultural group dedicated to uniting Australian communities through theatrical and cultural exchanges. The group has garnered acclaim for productions such as Kanjoos, Wedding Album, Shri 420, and Where Did I Leave My Purdah? Adakar’s participation in the 8th Theatre Olympics in India in 2018 further solidified its reputation.

Saba Zaidi Abdi, a graduate of AMU Aligarh and the National School of Drama, India, brings a wealth of experience to her role as the director of Adakar. Her career, which began at the Indian national broadcaster Doordarshan, has been marked by numerous awards and collaborations with renowned directors. Saba’s passion for Urdu language and culture is evident in her body of work, making her a driving force in the community arts scene.

The cast of the play Dozakh includes Bobby Mallick as Umdah Khanam, Saba Zaidi Abdi as Naulasi Khanam, Aditi Dey as Hussan Ara, Sarwat Zehra as Bahu, and Faiz Zaheer as Lalla, who will join from Delhi. The artistic elements are handled by Dhruvjyoti Ghose for art direction and lighting, and Saba Zaidi Abdi for costumes, while the production manager and sound are overseen by Smarjit Dey (Bapi).

Learn more about Adakar here and about Jashn-e-Rekhta here.

Read More: Dozakh and Mughal Bachcha by Adakara Theatre Group: A review

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