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,
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
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
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 Attic
‘An introduction to Tibetan medicine’
by Dr. Pema Dorjee
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
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
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
scene from Romeo & Juliet
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
Dr. Fatima Shahnaz
Dr. Shahnaz is the Artistic Director of The Globe
( 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.
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
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
The performance will begin with “Deena”
at a moderate pace, “Mok Su”, a gentle
but animated pacing and “Sarasa”, fast
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
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.
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
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!