december 06 programmes


tuesday 5th december
6.30 pm IIC Auditorium ‘Delhi Under The Last Mughal’ by William Dalrymple

Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher. But while Zafar’s Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, the eighty-two year-old Zafar was king in name only. Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, Zafar nevertheless succeeded in creating around him in Delhi a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history.
Then in 1857 Zafar’s flourishing capital became the centre of an uprising. When Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the Company’s own Indian troops, it transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Siege of Delhi was reminiscent of the sack of Delhi by Timur and Nadir Shah that reduced it to a battered, empty ruin.

In his talk this evening William Dalrymple will give a portrait of the life of the last
Emperor, and the city whose composite culture he epitomised. He draws on Indian eyewitness accounts and previously untranslated Urdu and Persian manuscripts from archives in Delhi, Lahore, Rangoon and London.

William Dalrymple has lived in Delhi on and off for the last 20 years. He is the author of “City of Djinns”, a most wonderful book illustrated by his wife Olivia, “White Mughals” and “The Age of Kali”. He wrote and presented the television series “Stories of the Raj” and “Indian Journeys” which won the best documentary series award at BAFTA 2002.


thursday 7th december
6.30 pm The Attic ‘Colonial France and British India - affinities and particularities’ a talk by Samuel Berthet

During the colonial period there was a long period of Franco-British rivalry. In that context, the clash between Dupleix and Clive is the best example. The victory of Clive is hence seen as the starting point for British imperialism, while it took France another century to start developing a colonial empire.

Two immediate comparisons can be made between the French and British techniques of colonial rule. On the one hand, French direct rule , with parliamentarians from the colonies in the French assembly, contrasting with British methods of indirect rule , and the way the British accepted Indian independence while preserving their interests showing a striking contrast to the wars for independence in French Indochina and Algeria.

While Dupleix did have plans for colonizing the sub-continent, the French actually used the British Raj as the blueprint for their strategy for colonization. Except for the Napoleonic wars, the so called adversarial relationship was almost irrelevant for the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Before the 1870's the French government did not rely on overseas expansion for its power, whereas British growing power from the seventeenth century onwards was built on it. France had a much more hinterland imperial vision, which was considered more jus soli than jus sanguini.

Though inspired by the British colonial experience, the French experience has some particularities due to a different historical legacy and a different political evolution, the effects of which were felt in the French settlements in India . Samuel Berthet explores in his talk this evening the differences between the two colonial experiences based on their own geo-economic pattern, political history of self representation as also in the reading made by the Indian elite of the history of both the countries.

Samuel Berthet is a historian, has studied at Delhi University and has been a visiting lecturer at the Visva Bharati and JNU. He is now scientific coordinator for JNU-Asialink project on Europe-South Asia Maritime Heritage. He publishes in various journals and is the author of Inde-France (1870-1962): Enjeux Culturels and Cultural Dynamics and Strategies of the Indian Elite, Indo-French relations under the Raj (1870-1947).
saturday 9th december
6.30 pm The Attic ‘An evening of Dastangoi’ by Mahmood Farooqui and Danish Husain from the Tilism-e Hoshruba daftar of the Dastan of Amir Hamza

Dastans are epic narratives and their recitation, including performance and narration, was a “Dastango”. Beginning with a now untraceable, original Arabic version, the story of Hamza, and his exploits against infidels, sorcerers and pretenders to divinity, spread first to the Persian and then to many parts of the Islamic world.
In India the story was already immensely popular in the sixteenth century and one of the first artistic projects commissioned by the Emperor Akbar was an illustration of the Hamza dastan, a work that became known as the Hamzanama, which consisted of over 1200 huge folios.

With its transmission into Urdu in the 18th and 19th centuries the Dastan of Amir Hamza came to acquire the mammoth size that is peculiar to Indic storytelling. In its structure it partook of the formal devices of classical music and Urdu poetry. In performance it connected with oral recitation forms of many different kinds-qissagoi, marsiyagoi, poetry recitation, naqal, bhandgiri-that dotted the Indian public sphere in the pre-colonial era.

Partaking of motifs and themes that proliferated in the shared pool of Indo-Persian storytelling tradition the final printed version of the Hamza Dastan in Urdu, by the Nawal Kishore Press in 19th century, ran to 46 volumes of over a thousand pages each, making it the longest fictional narrative ever printed in any language.

The Art of Dastangoi is at once the art of composition and of performance, parts of it are woven extemporaneously, as one is narrating/performing it.

Popular alike in the salons of kings and nobles and in the chowks and bazaars, of Delhi, Lucknow, Rampur, the art of Dastangoi is an inestimable part of Indian literature as well as its performance arts.

The revival of Dastangoi over the last one and a half year has been made possible largely because of the painstaking scholarly work of S R Faruqi, the only person to own the entire 46 volume collection, painstakingly built up in the course of his research.

Mahmood Farooqui is a Delhi based writer and actor. He has directed and acted in plays in Delhi , Bombay and Oxford and acted in the English feature film ‘ Mango Souffle'. He is currently researching a book on the Ghadar of 1857.

Danish Husain has been working with the best directors in Indian theatre - Habib Tanvir (Agra Bazaar), M.S. Sathyu, Barry John, Rajinder Nath, Sabina Mehta Jaitley, and Aziz Quraishi,. His latest assignments include Mirza Bagh , an adaptation of Brian Friel's Aristocrats and the movie Losing Gemma , He is also a published poet and writer.

monday 11th december
6.30 pm The Attic ‘Young Dancers Festival’ Mohiniattam by Manjula

Mohiniattam is one of the two classical dance forms of Kerala (the more famous Kathakali being the other). The delicate allure and extraordinary grace of this style probably makes it the embodiment of the feminine form in Indian dance. Its finest exponent in recent times Bharati Shivaji and also Manjula's guru writes in her book.
“Mohiniattam is the finest essence of lasya having evolved every movement, gesture, footstep in keeping with its message of a celestial dance – gentle yet breathing out an inner virility. Mohiniattam aims at beauty not as seduction but perfection, a form without a flaw.”
Manjula performs a traditional repertoire with an invocation, pure dance and abhinaya and an innovative piece of her own choreography.

Manjula was initiated into dance at a very young age by Guru Bharati Shivaji. She was among the first batch of students who trained and lived for nine years in the dance village Nrityagram. She has many years experience as a performer with a deep understanding of the aesthetics of the dance form. She has performed at the Bolshoi
theatre Moscow and the Conservatory Theatre in St. Petersburg in 2005, the Downtown Dance festival New York , the Silkeborge, Denmark as also in the Konarak festival Orissa, Surya festival Trivandrum , the Qutab festival in Delhi and the Khajuraho festival among many others.

wednesday 13th december

6.30 pm IIC Auditorium ‘ Zubaan-i-Dilli : from Amir Khusrau to Radio Mirchi’ by Alok Rai, with Mahmood Farooqui

It is customary to speak of language in the idiom of loss. Thus, language never is, it always was. And yet, despite this automatic elegiac tendency, language is a living thing, something that is always in the process of becoming. Not necessarily becoming better - but always becoming something other.

A crucial stage in this becoming, for Delhi , was the emergence of Urdu, during the period of the Delhi Sultanate (14 th & 15 th centuries). It drew its vocabulary from the resonant and majestic words of Arabic, the elegant, suggestive and graceful words of Persian and the sweet sounding as well as common rough words from countless local vernaculars. Arguably, Urdu reached its zenith as a Mughal language - and its long decline probably started during the British Colonial period. Unarguably, however, the coup de grace was the arrival of Punjabi speaking migrants from West Pakistan.

Alok Rai talks also about the alarming persistence of English, albeit in a million transformations - and, indeed, deformations. This process of linguistic "becoming" has happened under diverse pressures, as a result of many cross-cutting influences. There are new languages being thrown into the pot - the salad, the crucible, whatever - new experiences demanding to be named, new needs, including new zones of silence and unspeakability, sometimes as a consequence of censorship.

Zubaan-i-Dilli - whatever it means - has always been, ineluctably, cosmopolitan, hopelessly hybrid, polymorphous and perverse. Professor Alok Rai teaches English at Delhi University. He specializes in Victorian, post-Victorian English Literature; George Orwell; language and cultural politics in modern India

He has translated Premchand’s Nirmala into English (OUP), and has written Hindi Nationalism (Orient Longman). His book on George Orwell - Orwell and the Politics of Despair - was published by Cambridge University Press. He is well-known as a writer on matters of contemporary language and culture.


thursday 14th december

6.30 pm The AtticAn introduction to Tibetan medicine’ by Dr. Pema Dorjee

Medicinal Buddha Prayer
Homage to Buddha Vaiduryaprabha.
Transcendent One compassionately acting on behalf of living beings,
The mere hearing of whose name offers sanctuary from the sufferings of inferior existences, Spiritual Master of medicine, dispelling diseases caused by the three poisons Attachment, Aversion and Delusion.


Tibetan medicine is closely connected with Buddhist philosophy. It is a traditional system of healing that uses natural ingredients - herbs, trees, rocks, resins, soils, saps and precious metals. It is a holistic method which requires an understanding of medical texts, a knowledge of Tibetan linguistics, grammar and poetry. This 2500 year old tradition requires a 7 year training in the four main medical tantras, oral and written examinations and a one year practical training with a senior doctor. If the physician is able to make the right diagnosis and administer the right medicine, then Tibetan medicine is good for all kinds of illness. However, it has been particularly successful in the treatment of chronic diseases - rheumatism, arthritis, ulcers, digestion, asthma, hepatitis, eczema, liver, sinus, anxiety and problems connected with the nervous system.

Dr Dorjee introduces this fascinating and very effective system which has been almost destroyed in its homeland but survives in the 30 branches of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institutes in India and Nepal and some private clinics.

Dr Pema Dorjee was born in Lhodak, Tibet and was only nine years when his parent’s fled to India in 1959. He studied at the Tibetan Refuge School, Darjeeling and was admitted to the Tibetan Medical College, Dharamsala. After completing his studies in traditional Tibetan medicine he was appointed as the head of various branches of the Tibetan Medical and Astrological; Institute in Nepal, New Delhi, Itanagar, Dharamshala, Calcutta and Salugara. He has also worked as an assistant to Dr Yeshi Dhonden, Former personal physician to H.H. the Dalai Lama. And has traveled to France, Spain, Bulgaria, Ireland, Netherlands, Israel, Norway, England and Germany and to most states in India to lecture and provide medical consultation

Dr Pema Dorjee is the author of many books and articles on Tibetan Medicine and was one of the recipients of the Gold Medal and twice awardee of ”Gem of Alternative Medicine”, given by the Indian Board of Alternative Medicine. He was selected as the first Chairperson of the “Menpa Lhentsok” (Tibetan Medical Council).

saturday 16th december

6.30 pm The Attic ‘ A Shakespearean Miscellany’ a one-woman enactment from Shakespeare

A scene from Romeo & Juliet
Lady Anne (Richard III)
Juliet's love scene (Romeo and Juliet)
Juliet's death scene (Romeo and Juliet)
Shylock the Jew (The Merchant of Venice)
Portia (The Merchant of Venice)
Cleopatra & Messenger (Antony and Cleopatra)
Prospero (The Tempest) – Finale


by Dr. Fatima Shahnaz

Dr. Shahnaz is the Artistic Director of The Globe Repertory Company
( New York ). She has directed and produced not only Shakespeare but "Murder in the Cathedral" - T.S. Eliot; "Enemy of the People" - Henrik Ibsen; "The Flies" -Jean Paul Sartre, as well as Shaw, Mannesse, Elie Wiesel and others.

Excelling in drama, particularly as a Shakespearian actor, she was awarded a scholarship from her English boarding school to study dramatic arts at the prestigious academy of The Guild Hall, London, but she chose to pursue an academic career at the Sorbonne University in Paris, where she obtained her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. Simultaneously she studied theatre at the elite Paris school of drama, The Institute Rene Simon. With acting experience in Europe and the U.S. , she has become one of the leading Shakespearean actors in the world.

She is President of The India Peace Organization, a New York-based international human rights advocacy group. She is the archetypal renaissance personality (were women allowed to be renaissance personalities?) She is the author of 'Golconda', a novel, 'In The Arms of Words', an anthology of poetry,  books on Political Articles and Speeches on Afghanistan, 'The War against Terrorism', 'The Middle East: Imperial Route to India', 'Europe and the World: The Cash of Civilizations'. She has collected money for tsunami victims, been awarded the Priya Darshini Award as a writer, journalist and for service to humanity. And in 2005-2006 in Delhi she lectured on 'The Hague Conventions on Torture under military occupation' for The Iranian Cultural Centre, Delhi; at the Indian Society of International Law on 'The Violation of International laws on the Environment,' at the Constitution Club on 'Nationalism and the Indian Identity,' at JNU on 'The European Union and European Constitution' and also at Indira Gandhi National and Indraprastha Universities. She continues to write for numerous international newspapers and magazines and, with several books of poetry to her name, was nominated as one of four leading female candidates for Poetry in New York in the "Fear No Art Awards." And she continues her work as an international human Rights and peace activist, a spokesperson for oppressed peoples from war-zones and ethnic minorities and Iraqi children under sanctions.

tuesday 19th december
6.30 pm The Attic In the Name of Love – The Performance’ by Sabera Shaik (duration: 1 hour 25 minutes. No interval)

In the Name of Love, by the acclaimed dancer Ramli Ibrahim, is a trilogy of one-woman plays ( Sarasa , about Mother Love; Mak Su , about the love of a Mak Yong dancer for her art; and Deena , about her love of Bridge, Chocolate and Toy-Boys!) written especially for Sabera Shaik, dealing with obsessive love in its various forms.

Last performed in 1991, these newly re-created pieces earlier directed by three different directors is updated and re-choreographed by one director Christopher Jacobs for Sabera's 2006 international tour of India and Indonesia

The performance will begin with “Deena” at a moderate pace, “Mok Su”, a gentle but animated pacing and “Sarasa”, fast and furious.

Sabera Shaik is a well-known Malaysian Theatre figure who has acted in diverse roles in the performing arts in Malaysia, Singapore, Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Bali. She has emerged, arguably, as Malaysia’s First Lady of Theatre, through her wide reach in the performing arts.

Following some years of ensemble acting, Sabera Shaik now concentrates on directing major productions, and acting in one-woman plays in which she excels. She has been hailed as a sensitive and mesmerizing actor, expert in a range of emotional roles and situations.

Her own theatre company, Masakini Theatre, began by producing some of her own written works“ Lady Swettenham” and “My Bollywood Summer” which was acclaimed as a major breakthrough for Malaysian theatre. Recent productions have been Alan Bennett’s “Habeas Corpus” and Samuel Beckett’s “Happy Days”. Currently Sabera Shaik is preparing a major production URMI, based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, an adaptation, for presentation in Bali, Singapore and in Kuala Lumpur in 2007.

friday 22nd december
6.30 pm The Attic ‘Unto Us a Child is Born’ Classical Christmas Music: a musical journey by R.P.Jain

The birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated throughout the Christian world on December 25. This sacred event has over the centuries inspired poets, artists and musicians alike to depict it in all its beauty and grandeur. The day is celebrated with special food, drink and music.

Mr. Jain would like to take you on a historical musical journey dealing with the main events of the nativity: The birth and the worship of the infant Christ by the shepherds and the three Magi. During this journey we will be listening to music from the Middle Ages, compositions by Bach, Handel, Liszt and Britten and a medley of hymns and carols celebrating Christmas. Mr Jain will also focus on the meaning of Christmas to the ‘average’ western Christian today.

R.P. Jain graduated with a PhD from the University of Hamburg . He taught German language and literature for over 22 years in J.N.U. His interest in Western music grew imperceptibly, almost by osmosis from his earlier years in London to his stint in Germany where his interest in classical music was kindled. He lives a retired life in Delhi and is an active member of the Opera fraternity.
Christmas cake and punch will be served!