English translations of Shahid Nadeem's plays launched

The photograph shows the author, Shahid Nadeem, signing copies of his book (2nd from left). Also seen on the occasion are: Shahid Nadeem's son (extreme left); Tahira Abdullah, rights activist and development worker (2nd from right); and Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press (extreme right).

Islamabad, 25 August: Oxford University Press and the Ajoka Theatre launched Selected Plays, a collection of plays by Pakistan’s foremost playwright, Shahid Nadeem. The seven plays featured in the volume have been originally written in Urdu and Punjabi and translated into English for the first time by some of the best Pakistani translators like Tahira Naqvi, Khalid Hasan, Naila Azad, and Shahid Nadeem himself. Each play in the book is memorably distinct in terms of both subject matter and its treatment, but underlying the variety is a passionate concern with major social issues, especially oppression of women and the poor, and the distorting restrictions of corruption and hypocrisy. Shahid Nadeem has placed Pakistan on the theatre map of the world by his originality and skill in interweaving innovative forms with traditional elements such as music and dance, and with liberal quantities of humour. Hypocrites, he shows, can be undermined by laughter. Hence the storms of controversy which his plays have roused, whether Dukhini on the trafficking of women from Bangladesh to Pakistan, Bulha on orthodox rejection of the great seventeenth-century Sufi mystic poet Bulleh Shah, or, most recently, the banned Burqavaganza.

Shahid Nadeem has written more than thirty original plays and film adaptations as well as ten TV serials and telefilms. His work has been critically acclaimed, both nationally and internationally, and has won several awards. Shahid Nadeem has also produced TV serials and telefilms for Pakistan Television (PTV) and other TV channels. He is a recipient of the PTV Silver Jubilee Award, 1989. He has also served as General Manager, Lahore Centre, Director Programmes, PTV network and Director, PTV Academy. He is currently the Executive Director of Ajoka Theatre and Ajoka Productions.

The launch ceremony held at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) auditorium, was well-attended by literature and theatre lovers, academics, literary critics, journalists, and media people. The speakers at the launch included Intizar Husain, an eminent Urdu fiction writer and columnist; Naeem Tahir, Chief Executive/Director General, PNCA; and Tahira Abdullah, rights activist and development worker. They were all appreciative of the way in which Shahid Nadeem effectively combined humour with grimness to address the serious and familiar issues affecting a society in which violence and hypocrisy reign supreme and where rights and freedom are stifled. A video presentation titled ‘A Journey through Shahid Nadeem’s Plays’ was also shown to the audience. Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director, Oxford University Press, and Madeeha Gauhar, Artistic Director, Ajoka Theatre, gave the welcome address. Calling Shahid Nadeem an icon of thespian excellence in Pakistan, Ameena Saiyid said that all his plays deal with serious social issues but he dresses them well in humour and other forms of entertainment so that the audience is entertained while their awareness of the serious issues in society is raised at the same time.

The launch ceremony was followed by a performance of a play by the Ajoka Theatre. The event was held in collaboration with PNCA and the Pakistan Academy of Letters.