[Reader-list] [Announcements] Talk by Prof. Kathryn Hansen

Mitoo Das mitoo at sarai.net
Tue Mar 9 12:57:35 IST 2010

*Talk at Sarai.*

*Prof. Kathryn Hansen*, from the *University of Texas* will deliver a 
talk on *Passionate Refrains: The Theatricality of Urdu on the Parsi Stage
*Venue:* Seminar Room- CSDS
*Date:* 18 March 2010
*Time:* 4:00 pm

*Passionate Refrains: The Theatricality of Urdu on the Parsi Stage:
*The Parsi theatre contributed to the development of Indian cinema in 
textual legacies of story and theme, genre and star roles.  It also 
supplied technical expertise, personnel, and capital vital to the new 
industry.  This paper considers another aspect of the Parsi theatre 
connection: the stylized structures of language, thought, and feeling 
associated with the Urdu language.  Beginning with the popular pageant, 
the Indar Sabha, Parsi theatrical companies embraced the poetics of the 
Urdu ghazal with its declarations of ishq (passion) and recurring radifs 
(refrains).  Why did Urdu win out over English and Gujarati as the 
dominant language of the then Bombay-based theatre?  The analysis traces 
the contribution of Urdu munshis (playwrights), who together with their 
more illustrious actor-manager employers, co-created a distinctive 
Parsi-Urdu theatrical style.   The performance of Urdu poetry together 
with Hindustani music and dance is seen as enhancing the literary appeal 
and musicality of new dramas, imparting a commercial advantage.  
Moreover, changes in playhouse design and the conventions of melodrama 
called for a forceful, rhythmic style of delivery, for which actors 
trained in Urdu were well-suited.  The paper includes a case study of 
Agha Hashr Kashmiri, author of countless dramas and screeplays, focusing 
on his historical allegory, Yahudi ki Larki.  A clip from the 1955 film 
version will be shown to illustrate the histrionic style of the great 
actor, Sohrab Modi.  

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