ISLAMABAD: The audience was standing on chairs, cheering for their favourite performers.
It was an exceptionally hot afternoon and the hall was stuffy, but the crowd didn’t seem to care. Everyone was mesmerised in the songs and dances. The event didn’t take place in a swanky auditorium or feature any known artists. It was organised in a slum in Sector G-7 for, and by, the children of the neighbourhood. Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, facilitated the event, titled “Yeh Basti Sub Ki Basti Hai” (This Community Belongs to All of Us).
The programme began with a puppet show followed by a tableau and performances of folk and national songs. There were dances and singing performances by residents of the colony. The children were gathered in a small community hall, while those left outside were peeping through the windows to get a glimpse inside. Sunil Zulfiqar, 15, and his friend Adeep Younis, 12, won the Best Dance award. “We danced on our favourite song “Nach Punjaaban” by Abrarul Haq and practiced for two hours in advance,” said Sunil. “All our hard work paid off. Our performance was enjoyed by our family and friends and we are excited that we won first prize,” Adeep added.
This was the third such event organised by the PNCA. The first two were held outdoors in the slums of F-7/4 and G-8/2. “This event was excellent but it should have been [held] in the open air,” said Salima Ahmed, a visitor. PNCA had invited two professional performers as well. Azhar, sang songs for the children, and stage artist Saeed Anwar, who initially sat and watched the performances with the children, later jumped up on stage to entertain them with a stand-up comedy routine.
Tauqeer Nasir, Director General PNCA and a renowned TV artist, also attended the event. “PNCA has made the effort to go from one slum to the other to entertain children who are often ignored,” Nasir said, while addressing the audience. “One reason for organising such activities is because attention needs to be drawn towards the promotion of culture amongst people,” he added.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 27th, 2010.