Filmmaker Tanuja Chandra among headliners of UKs first Urdu Fest

Filmmaker Tanuja Chandra among headliners of UKs first Urdu Fest

Indian filmmaker Tanuja Chandra is among the Bollywood headliners, alongside famed lyricist-poets Javed Akhtar and Gulzar, of a first-of-its-kind virtual Urdu festival being hosted in Britain for the Indian diaspora

Chandra said: “While on the one hand, gatherings of large crowds, especially those belonging to our subcontinental diaspora are heady and fun, what's been great about virtual events this year, is that people from all over the world have watched and participated in them. “This particular event in the UK is a well loved one and it would've been hugely disappointing to audiences there to have missed out on it. I'm glad the organisers of Rekhta decided to do it virtually, and at a difficult time in the world, audiences will be able to enjoy chats on art, music, literature, politics, and everything in between.” She will join UK-based writer-filmmaker Nasreen Munni Kabir to discuss the contribution of Urdu to the world of cinema and television in the “Cinema Aur TV Ki Zubaan” session at Jashn-e-Rekhta (JeR) UK, the world's largest Urdu language literary event held annually in Delhi since 2016 which has taken on a digital avatar for the UK in light of the coronavirus lockdown.

Cinema and Urdu

The other highlights include “Cinema - Kal Aur Aaj”, during which Akhtar and Manoj Muntashir will be in conversation about films, lyrics and Urdu poetry, and Gulzar will be talking about his love for Urdu in “Ye Kaisa Ishq Hai Urdu Zabaan Ka”. Rekhta Foundation UK, as a registered UK charity, has been set up to preserve and promote the languages, literature and culture of South Asia, with a particular focus on Urdu. “Rekhta.org, the world's largest repository of Urdu literature, is followed by nearly 226,000 people in the UK, including 211,000 in England and 84,000 followers in the city of London alone,” it says, in reference to the popularity of the language in Britain. Alongside the specially curated sessions for the UK, the festival on September 5 and 6 will also offer a chance for audiences to explore some of the most popular events from JeR India's archives of past events.

UK Premiere

It will also include the UK premiere of a play, 'Mian Biwi Aur Wagah', based on a series of letters describing the real-life experiences of an Indian husband and his Pakistani wife. “It is indeed a great honour that an institution like Rekhta recognised our efforts for the love of Urdu,” said Amna Khaishgi, team leader of Goonj, the theatre group behind the play co-written by Dubai-based Ehtesham Shahid, who also portrays the main lead of Mian. Sanjiv Saraf, Founder, Rekhta Foundation, said: “JeR UK aligns with Rekhta Foundation UK charitable objective of cultural preservation and promotion, education and advocacy of Urdu's rich literary and composite heritage. “We want today's young people to be able to appreciate and be proud of their own traditions, and to encourage them to channel their energy in creative ways. Urdu's uniqueness lies in the way it brings together Arabic, Farsi and other Indian dialects. As one of the most elegant languages, Urdu is able to express love in all its manifestations, divine and earthly, using the most beautiful symbolism. No matter who speaks it, magic is always felt. JeR UK gives us the opportunity to experience this magic through musical performances, discourses, dance and theatre.”

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