LAHORE: The three-day fourth Faiz International Festival kicked off on Friday (November 16) as renowned Bollywood stars – poet Javed Akhtar and his actor wife Shabana Azmi – joined the event held at Lahore’s Alhamra Hall. The mela’s first day saw an exhibition at Alhamra Art gallery featuring posters of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and his work.
A play titled Kaala Mainda Bhes was also performed by Ajoka Theatre, paying tribute to their late founder, Madeeha Gauhar. Furthermore, a musical night was held with singer Tahira Syed.
Unsurprisingly, Azmi and Javed Akhtar were the centre of attention at the festival, with an innumerable amount of people heading to the venue for the actor’s session. The festival’s administration had sent out a special invite to the star couple.
The two entertained audiences alike, with Akhtar reciting his poetry and Azmi making her appearance during a special event titled ‘Kaifi and Faiz’, alongside Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter Salima Hashmi. The name of the session has been derived from Azmi and Hashmi’s fathers, Kaifi and Faiz, respectively.
During the session, the daughters of the late legends spoke about the work of the famed poets and the circumstances of their era. Advocate Ibn Abdur Rehman, writer Dr Sughra Sadaf, Faiz’s daughter Muneeza Hashmi, and many other great personalities were present in the audience.
The Sparsh actor spoke of her father and his relationship with the legendary Faiz. “My father and Faiz Ahmad Faiz were progressive and revolutionary poets who spoke of ground realities and public situations within their poetry,” Azmi shared during her session. “Their poetry stimulated from work and struggle wherein they asked the public to never lose hope. There’s a reason people still take guidance from the poetry of Kaifi and Faiz, till this day.”
Azmi went on to recite Faiz’s poetry after which Akhtar also presented his own. Although the Kal Ho Naa Ho lyricist provided a snippet of his work to the audience yesterday, a complete session titled ‘Mohabbat Ki Zubaan’ will be held today, during which Akhtar will speak alongside poet Amjad Islam Amjad. The Bollywood veterans received a great response from the audience. Azmi was so overwhelmed and joyed with the positive reaction that she stated she will make sure to partake in the festival next year as well.
The Faiz Festival will run until November 18, 2018, and is expected to feature around 100 celebrities, both local and foreign, as well as 30 international scholars who will be speaking at different sessions. Alongside the general public, various showbiz personalities, literary giants, human rights activists and prominent foreign guests were also present.
Alhamra Hall was chosen as the location for the event as it is the hub of entertainment where numerous activities, literary discussions, theatre showcases and musical performances are held. Before the festival, Punjab’s Information and Culture Minister Fayyazul Hasan Chohan and Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar met up with the Arthstar and Akhtar for their official welcome.
Moneeza Hashmi, the daughter of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, lauded the government’s efforts to make the festival a success in which literary figures from across the world were participating.
She said the festival had become a symbol of love, sensitivity, and care for others, adding that a number of events had been included in the festival, especially for youth to make them aware about literary personalities and their achievements through plays and stage performances.
Second day of festival
Some of the interesting sessions on Saturday were Pakistan: The Way Forward with Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Shaista Pervaiz Malik of the PML-N, Senator Raza Rabbani of the PPP and Afrasiab Khattak of the ANP, Sunnay walo kay naam by Javed Akhtar and a session with Pakistani actor, producer, director and television broadcaster Zia Mohyeddin.
Arrival in Lahore
Javed Akhtar met Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar at the governor house and reciprocated his message of peace and love. The Governor said that Pakistan believes in peace and wishes to establish a harmonious relationship with all its neighbouring countries.
Shabana Azmi also expressed her desire for peace and better relationships between Pakistan and India. “I have come to Pakistan with a message of peace and strongly believe that both countries should have cordial relations,” she told the media.
“It is an honour for us to host this event and have numerous guests attending. Everyone who participates is a guest of honour for us,” stated Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s daughter, Salima Hashmi in an earlier statement.
Fayyazul Hassan Chohan
Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Fayyazul Hassan Chohan on Friday said the current visit of noted Indian poet Javed Akhtar along with his wife, film star Shabana Azmi, to Pakistan would open new doors of peace for Pak-India relationships.
In a meeting with the Indian celebrity couple, who are in Pakistan to attend the “4th Faiz International Festival”, Chohan said both the neighbouring countries should work together “in the areas of art to promote harmony and peace in the region”.
On this occasion, Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar said that they were overwhelmed by the warm welcome which had been given to them by the people of Pakistan.“We will never forget the love and respect which we received during the visit”, they added.