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Our 9th mehfil@prithvi commenced with a discussion on the Contemporary Progressive Writers’ Movement. We decided to split the Progressive Writers’ Movement in two distinct chunks, as there is a lot of material available, which could not be covered in one session.

Many people graced the occasion and we were happy to see some regular faces that have become an inherent part of the mehfils. Our team consisted on Shama Zaidi Apa, Javed Siddiqui Saab, Salim Arif, Lubna Salim, and Suhail Warsi.

We set the mood for the evening with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem “Yeh Daag Daag Ujala” which was explained by Javed Siddiqui Saab. He also recapped on the previous session that took place in September, to explain the link between the two sessions. The poem was played once again after Javed Saab’s explanation.

Shama Zaidi Apa explained the contemporary progressive movement in depth. She went on to reading a poem by Habib Tanveer called “Ramnath” which was like a breath of fresh air. Suhail followed by reading an amazing story by writer Ali Abbas who was the founder member of the Progressive Writers’ Movement. There was a brief discussion on the works of Premchand, Krishan Chandra and Manto.

The conversation drifted to literature written by men about women like the poem “Aurat” by Kaifi Azmi, to works written by women themselves like “ Kanyadaan” by Parveen Shakir, which was read by Lubna Salim.

We called for a break where the crowd sipped tea and purchased books

We commenced our next session with contemporary progressive poetry. Suhail read poems  by Ifti Naseem who was a gay poet and he also read poems by Jayant Parmar who is a Dalit poet. This helped the audience to look at Urdu poetry in a different light

Salim Arif touched upon the influence of progressive ideas in films and with that as a cue we played the climax scene of Mother India. Other films like ‘Udaan’ and ‘Tare Zameen Par’ were discussed.

The thick curtain was slowly drifting away as we discovered these writers, poets and ideologies.

Gulzar Saab has written a touching poem on the Babri Masjid violence, which was read along with Javed Akhtar’s ‘Waqt’.

We introduced the coke studio as part of the progressive movement, which was started in Brazil and has picked up momentum in Pakistan.

We ended the evening with an indian coke studio production, a beautiful song in the lyrical voice of Piyush Mishra played called “Husna”

Read: Kaifi and I – written by Shakuat Azmi translated by Nasreen Rehman
Watch: Films – Mother India and Naya Daur
Listen: Music –  “husna” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zTFzMPWGLs

* the poems mentioned in this article will feature on the blog shortly.