SOAS University of London

SOAS South Asia Institute

COVID KA AKHRI MUSHAIRA A Tribute by Urdu Lovers


Date: 16 July 2022Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 16 July 2022Time: 4:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Khalil Lecture Theatre

Type of Event: Talk

About this event

Urdu was born and developed to serve as a means of communication among people from different regions, cultures, and ethnicity. It is said to have grown in the market places and in the army; the two natural boiling pots where exchange and collaboration are a necessity for survival. Urdu became the language of the courts but its initial role of being a link language endured. This enduring legacy is represented in a multilingual Mushaira -- the public cultural tradition of poetic performance which is comprised of Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Kashmiri, and English languages titled COVID KA AAKHRI MUSHAIRA in keeping with the landmark LAL QILE KA AAKHRI MUSHAIRA.

During the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, London Urdu Voice worked with Dr Noor Zaheer to build a script, for the lovers of the language as a means to connect and share the legacy of Urdu literature and to expand and explore personal space that had been severely limited because of the pandemic.

In the lockdown, six people are caught in a house. While five are of a family, the sixth is a visitor from India, who came to attend a wedding and was marooned in London due to the lockdown. The family is Muslim, and the guest is a Hindu. Stress is soaring, frayed tempers, irritation and frustration run high beneath the virtual calm...

COVID KA AAKHRI MUSHAIRA was the result of the online interchanges, sharing of happenings inside the ‘bubbles’, swapping verses to colour the experiences and exploring the classical, the popular, the progressive and the modern poetry as sustenance in a very difficult, seemingly unending restrictions. The online recorded pandemic version is presented with new thinking -- a short discourse on Urdu and the variety that it offers by way of poetry, its meters, forms, genre and experimentation. This is a tribute by Urdu lovers, a language that unifies the sub-continent and its diaspora!

SCRIPT and DIRECTION: Dr Noor Zaheer, a writer, theatre director and researcher (English, Hindi and Urdu) has directed more than 26 full-length plays in Hindi and English.

ARTISTS: Akram Kaim Khani trained in journalism at Karachi University is the elected President and General Secretary of Faiz Cultural Foundation UK since 2011. Yousuf Abraham, Founder of London Urdu Voice and Secretary Information Faiz Cultural Foundation UK currently work on Urdu Audio Books. Uruj Asif, a Digital Communications Consultant and a journalist comes from a family of writers and has worked with the Royal College of Physicians and the London School of Economics over the past decade. Sherbano Bukhari is a Criminal defence lawyer and writer. Faria Attique is a well-known activist in the arts and human rights. Sumana Mukherjee Bhattacharya is a Bengali elocutionist. StoryBoard, artistic content and stills had input from Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SOAS South Asia Institute).


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SOAS South Asia Institute hosts the hybrid summer festival SOAS South Asian Heritage Month Festival on campus taking place on 15-16 July 2022. 


The Festival is co-directed by Dr Sanjukta Ghosh (SSAI) and Farzana Qureshi (SOAS Library). 

The festival is in partnership with South Asian Heritage Month, the well-known month-long celebration in the United Kingdom (similar in spirit to the Black History Month) to celebrate the heritage of people with roots in the South Asian countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives.

The SOAS SAHM is in collaboration with Jasvir Singh OBE and Dr Binita Kane along with the wider team members.

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