Soirees dedicated to the promotion of classical Urdu - a language known for its sophistication in both prose and poetry - were once common in the subcontinent but over the years their prominence and relevance seem to have faded away in the midst of mainstream pop culture. Fortunately, there are still a few groups and active agencies that are dedicated to promote and keep this language alive. Jashn-e-Rekhta is a three-day festival, held annually under the aegis of Rekhta. Devoted to the preservation and promotion of the Urdu language, its literature and culture, Rekhta has been well received over the years across India and beyond. The three-day festival has earlier seen literary personalities that have an intellectual understanding of the language, such as Zia Mohyeddin, Arfa Syeda and Mustansar Hussain Tarar from Pakistan, as well as Bollywood personalities such as Imtiaz Ali, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nandita Das and Shabana Azmi sharing their love and thoughts with audiences at the fest.
The fifth edition of Jashn-e-Rekhta is now around the corner and this year has a great line-up of artists, poets, writers, celebs from South-Asia who will be participating in the festival, which is scheduled to take place in Dubai from February 28 to March 2.
This year, the event will also see splendid musical performances of ghazals and qawwalis by renowned artistes. Additional activities include dastangoi, panel discussions, poetry recitations and enriching conversations with celebrities. Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi are scheduled to open the festival with Kaifi Aur Main where they give a theatrical tribute to the time and trials of Kaifi Azmi and his wife. Famed Indian actor Ali Fazal, Pakistani actor-director Sarmad Khoosat along with Mahira Khan are going to light up the festival in an engaging discussion about the contribution of Urdu in cinema. It is not the first time that Mahira will be participating at such a forum. She had spoken about her fondness for Urdu poetry at the Faiz International Festival in an informal chit-chat with the host Sarmad Khoosat and Mira Hashmi. In fact, in her last film, 7 Din Mohabbat In, she played a girl next door who was obsessed with Parveen Shakir’s poetry and her dialect was flawless.
Aparna Pandey, member of Rekhta’s core team exclusively spoke to Instep and shared why the team feels Mahira Khan and Ali Fazal are the perfect spokespersons for this forum.
“Mahira Khan is a star in both India and Pakistan,” she said. “Pakistani dramas in general are fondly watched and idolized in India and Mahira has been an integral part in most of them. Her command on and love for the Urdu language is no secret. She has also done a film in India so there can’t be a better spokesperson than her to share the experience and how Urdu has proven to be a solid medium and a bridge in her career. Ali Fazal himself has worked with several Pakistani artists in his career and has also been in Lahore. Urdu was also an important element in his biggest Hollywood film Victoria & Abdul. He himself is born in Lucknow so you can imagine the influence.”
This festival will be a treat for Urdu enthusiasts who will be able to enjoy the language and its versatility through the myriad art forms that the language lends itself to.