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Honouring Sara

Last updated on: March 30, 2010 14:51 IST

Honouring Sara

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Matthew Schneeberger in Mumbai

Death before dishonour goes the maxim.

But, according to top Indian director Mahesh Dattani, the life of Pakistani poetess Sara Shagufta gives us an entirely new spin on this age old saying: "It's actually death before submission," he says.

Sara Shagufta was a controversial female poet in the male-dominated Pakistani society of the 1970s, whose life was marred by personal troubles at nearly every step: abusive and philandering husbands, oppressive in-laws, forced stays at an insane asylum and a society that ridiculed her.

Ultimately, at just 29, she chose suicide over the indignity of submission.

The play Sara, directed by Dattani and written by Shahid Anwar, celebrates the life of this unique woman. Drawn heavily from her letters to Indian poet and fellow female writer Amrita Pritam, it charts the heart-breaking trajectory of Sara's life.


Image: A scene from Sara

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Honouring Sara

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The hour long, one person Hindustani language play debuted on March 28 in Bandra, Mumbai.

Seema Azmi, the actress who plays Sara, says it took four months of work to prepare for the part. According to Dattani, her effort has paid off in spades, as, aside from a few glitches, the premiere was a rousing success.

The director and his crew are now preparing to take Sara on the road; the play can next be seen in April.


Image: Mahesh Dattani

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