Katha Kathan celebrated the 138th birth anniversary of Munshi Premchand, one of the most prolific writers of Indian literature, from 26th July 2018 to 31st July 2018, which is his birthday. The stories were presented in the signature, dramatized reading format, in three languages- Awadhi, Urdu and Hindustani.
These performances were held at different venues across Mumbai, with each venue having a mix of unique stories. What also made the programme unique was the fact that this is the first time ever Mumbai heard performances in Awadhi- one of the sweetest dialects of Hindi from Lucknow. Katha Kathan’s Lucknow team led by Smt. Nutan Vashishtha performed these stories with artists who specially came to Mumbai as part of Jashn-e-Premchand. The repertoire of stories being presented included: Panch Parmeshwar, Boodhi Kaaki, Do Bail, Shuddhi, Qatil Ki Maa, Bhoot.
The finale of Jashn-e-Premchand was graced with the presence of versatile actor Naseeruddin Shah. Speaking on the occasion about Katha Kathan’s mission to save languages, he said, “Aaj ki jo bhasha hai, wo bhrasht hai, aur wo kehte hai ki ye zinda zabaan hai. Hogi… har zinda cheez haseen nahi”
[Translation: “The language spoken these days is corrupted, and people claim that this is that language that is alive. Maybe… but it isn’t necessary that every living thing need be beautiful”]
He further added, “Mai UP se hoon meri wife Gujarati hai. Humare bete Mumbai ki ‘aaraila’ ‘jaaraila’ bhasha na bole, isiliye humare ghar mein hindustani hi bolne ka rule banaya”
[Translation: ‘I am from UP and my wife is a Gujarati, now living in Mumbai. We did not want our boys to pick up the “aaraila jaaraila” lingo popular here, and so made it a house rule that everyone must speak in Hindustani’]
Continuing, he said, “Jo maine naya natak kiya hai- Aurat, Aurat, Aurat, jisme Ismat aapa ke chaar lekh hain, uska sehra Jameel sahib ke sar jaata hai, kyon ke in lekh se mai waqif tha hi nahi. Ittefaq se ek din Jameel sahib ko unhe YouTube pe padhte suna, aur phir maine unhe stage par pesh kiya”
[Translation: ‘The credit of my recent play “Aurat, Aurat, Aurat”, which is a compilation of four pieces of Ismat aapa, goes to Jameel sahib, because I was did not know of them. I chanced upon these pieces when I heard him reading these on YouTube, which I then adapted for stage’]
Jameel Gulrays, Founder, Katha Kathan and recipient of Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy Award spoke about his mission and said “Indian literature is rich in its content however, sadly most Indians today would rather be found quoting Shakespeare, Goethe, Nietzsche etc. rather than our own literary giants like Premchand, Manto, Tagore, Bharatiyar, Gurujada Apparao to name a few. Our group focusses on reading the writings of these authors in their original languages to reach out to Indians who probably do not know how to read their mother tongue but are still able to follow them so that they realise the beauty and depth of our very own language and literature.”