“Rishtiyan Da Ki Rukhiya Naa”, a theatre play adapted from “Toba Taik Singh”, a short story written by legendary Sadat Hassan Manto, will be staged at Alhamra on July 1 and 2.
This play is written by well-acclaimed Indian play wright Dr Atamjit Singh and directed by President Maas Foundation Aamir Nawaz. “Rishtiyan Da Ki Rukhiya Naa” is one of the major literary and theatrical works of Punjabi literature and theatre. Written in 1981 and first directed by the author himself, this play has been staged hundreds of times in India, Canada and America by more than 50 different groups in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.
The play has also been published in all these languages and also in English. As part of the curriculum in various courses in different universities of India, this play is treated as a classic in the dramatic literature of Punjabi language. Although the basic element of the plot is bifurcation of the forgotten inmates of a mental asylum after the 1947 partition was over, yet the playwright, like the story writer, has been able to achieve a certain inwardness with which he often tends to approach both the individual/collective psyche of Punjabi community as also the sociology that rarefies or refracts it.
Whether it is “Rishtiaan Da Ki Rakhiye Naa” or his other plays, it’s always the complex web of personal/social/artistic relationships that constitutes the very stuff and material of his dramatic content and structure. In this play he explores the sociology of fragmented relationships in the post-Partition scenario. Adding a few characters and creating their detailed characterization in the play, Atamjit has not only presented the pain, agony, turmoil and sufferings of ordinary Punjabis, he has also pitied the overall milieu that could not bear the brunt of this partition in any dignified manner.
At individual level people remained concerned and helpful to each other but at the level of community the Punjabis who speak the same language did the most shameful acts that are unparalleled in more ways than one in the history of mankind. The play and its songs mourn the events of 1947 in a most dramatic and subtle manner. But it also raises a hope, especially through end of the play, that the age-old ties cannot be severed in terms of language, literature, thought process and other aspects of our cultural heritage.