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AURANGZEB was a stingy ruler.

He was myopic, ruthless and had no tolerance towards anything that did not suit him. His brother Dara Shikoh, on the other hand, was erudite and accommodative of all faiths.

But Aurangzeb murdered him and ascended the throne. The extremely dramatic and poignant story of Dara, the ruler that could have been, is one of the few plays to be staged at Humsaya, the Pakistani theatre festival, which will soon come to town.

Shahid Nadeem, playwright and actor of the plays, says, " Such a festival is very important, especially during these times. They convey the message of secularism. We are so similar in terms of geography, history and economy. It is sad to see terrible episodes taking place due to the lack of communication between the two governments,"he says.

Nadeem says there is still a debate in Pakistan about who was the better ruler -- Aurangzeb or Dara Shikoh.

" Aurangzeb has always been presented as an ideal ruler. We

are trying to turn that around.

Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh, a play on the life of Manto, has to go on stage as no one expressed the pain of Partition and displacement as well as he did,"he says.

Rakesh Gupta, founder of Routes2Roots that is brining Humsaya to the Capital, says, " All the plays are based on pre- Independence stories -- Manto, Bulleh Shah, the banned kite festival and Dara -- and they bring about a sense of camaraderie among the people of both countries, reminding them that they were not all that different."During the Bharat Rang Mahotsav of 2008, the play on the life of Manto had to be cancelled and shifted to a private venue due to security reasons.

The play has never gone on stage in India after that and Nadeem hopes people will make it a huge success.

Humsaya is on from September 14 to 17 at Kamani Auditorium

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Sep 11, 2015
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