Pakistani actress Mahira Khan will feature prominently in a new show by Zee. The first episode of the show, titled ‘Yaar Julahay’, will be aired on Tata Sky Theatre on the 15th of May. The show will appear on other DTH platforms as well. It has led to speculations whether the unofficial embargo on Pakistani artists have been lifted.
One central government source was quoted by reports as saying, “The embargo on Pakistani artistes was always a moral issue. At the time when hostilities were at their highest Bollywood filmmakers like Karan Johar were inviting actors from across the border to work in the country. The call to boycott Pakistani artistes was never legally binding.”
“Each episode of ‘Yaar Julahay’ features the immersive reading of a remarkable story that is as unique and complex as the subcontinent we live in. Each one of the featured writers has processed reality through characters that we can still identify with. It was a joy to work on these classic tales with Kanwal and Sarmad Khoosat because we have collaborated with them before and they always approach a project with a certain artistic sensitivity and deep respect for the material they are working with. Their sensibility was needed for a project as unique as this,” Chief Creative Officer – Special Projects at Zee Network, Shailka Kejriwal, was quoted as saying.
‘Yaar Julahay’ will have dramatic readings spread across 12 episodes. Stories by Gulzar, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai, Munshi Premchand, Amrita Pritam, Qurratulain Haider, Balwant Singh and others will feature on the show and readers will include Armad Khoosat, Sarwat Gilani, Nimra Bucha, Fawad Khan, Sania Saeed, Irfan Khoosat, Yasra Rizvi, Samiya Mumtaz, and Faisal Quresh, reports say.
Mahira Khan will read Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi’s story, Guriya, on the show. Actor and director Sarmad Khoosat said that the show was inspired by the story telling tradition of ‘Dastangoi’.
He said, “We have interpreted ‘Dastangoi’ in a contemporary way and there is also live and recorded music along with suggestive details articulating the theme of the story. For instance, when I directed Mahira Khan for the story ‘Guriya’, the set was strewn with dolls that in a way told their own story. They created an eerie atmosphere that augmented the narration and enhanced the inherent mood of the reading.”
“This series attempts to introduce a newer audience to literature through a format that blends ‘Dastangoi’ with the Chamber Theatre technique where a reader has an environment, a minimal stage setting to not just read in but to perform, interpret and deliver a story in. In each reading, we have tried to maintain the integrity of the author’s voice even as we amplify it through the digital medium to reach as many people as possible,” he added.
‘Yaar Julahay’ is the initiative of Zee Theatre. The name of the show was inspired by a Gulzar poem. Following the Pulwama terrorist attack, an embargo on Pakistani artists had been put in place by the film industry heeding to national sentiment. However, it is not clear whether any such ban was proposed for the entertainment industry as a whole.