Last night was the exclusive show for Lahore of Likhay Jo Khatt Tujhey, a dramatic reading of Urdu letters written by the greatest of the greats, including Faiz, Munshi Premchand and Khadim Hussain. We got to experience Sania Saeed and Tajdar Zaidi truly in their element, accompanied by live fusion music, featuring a talented guitarist, soulful sitarist, and an enthralling tabla artist. The event was in Alhamra, as part of the troupe’s domestic tour; it was initially a small event for Olompolo’s third anniversary, which expanded to perform at a theatrical convention in Singapore, and then returned to Pakistan for a country – wide closing tour. Lahore was their second last stop, and they are en route to Peshawar as we write this, with a performance there on the 30th of September, so to everyone from Peshawar, get tickets and don’t miss a truly beautiful performance!

Sania Saeed and Tajdar Zaidi sit on opposite ends of a simple set, with the musicians arranged upstage from and between them. Warm, yellow lights set the scene as the two read back and forth, carrying the audience with nothing more than the written word and the skill they employed in delivering them. Two hours long, the performance comprises of 9 letters, 2 read as poems, and 7 as traditional letters; within these 9 pieces, there is social commentary, humor, love and heartbreak. Music plays softly during the readings, and swells into beautiful, moving performances for the interludes, and all these elements tie together for a beautiful evening.

It should be noted that, as expected, the language for the performance was rich, poetic Urdu, and that listening carefully was of vital importance. With no movement, costume changes, or set alterations, the performance was simply two readers bringing an ensemble of characters to life using just their vocal prowess. Likhay Jo Khatt Tujhey offers a more nuanced theatrical experience than most mainstream plays, and a rapt, mature audience can best appreciate this. The fact that Alhamra’s largest hall was full to the rafters (literally, each seat was occupied, and people had taken to the steps) is hence even more of an indication of the artfulness and beauty inherent within this piece.

Sophisticated and very unique, this was a theatrical performance designed to raise the bar. It was rousing to see a motley crew in the audience, ranging from the youth to the elderly, as this truly speaks for the love of theatre and how it is maintained even in the digital age, as does the increase in authentic theatrical pieces on both a commercial and arts scale. Likhay Jo Khatt Tujhey promised to remind us of the romanticism inherent in letters, the written word, and the Urdu language, and we can safely say that they delivered the message perfectly

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