The Punjabi language is becoming an alien idea in the midst of rapid urbanisation of the province. Years of contempt and ridicule attached with the language in popular culture has vastly reduced the importance of this beautiful language of Sufis. From the profound verses of Waris Shah and Bullay Shah that can stir even the coldest of souls, the language has been reduced to being associated with violence, ignorance and backwardness in the present day and age. Its speakers are looked down upon with cringe and dubbed “illiterate” as soon as they utter a word of Punjabi.
Resultantly, a large majority of Punjabi speakers feel inclined towards switching to Urdu in their regular conversation to avoid being called illiterate beings. But unfortunately, that has brought horrendous results. Firstly in the form of a hybrid Urdu accent that is as pleasing on the ears as a chalk screech on a board, and secondly in the form of identity loss in youngsters that has accompanied the ditching of Punjabi language.
Visit any university today that is thriving with youngsters. You will find Pashtuns conversing in Pashto, Sindhis speaking Sindhi and Balochis chatting away effortlessly in Balochi. But the percentage of people communicating in Punjabi language would be close to nil. There is a social stigma attached to the language unfortunately, and no one wants to sound “uncool” by uttering a few words of Punjabi.
More collective efforts are needed to do away with the years of persecution that the language has faced and make it completely normal and scorn-free for an individual to express himself or herself in Punjabi. The role of universities is extremely important in this regard and Governmnet College University Lahore’s latest effort should be lauded for what it’s worth.
After a hiatus of 12 years, GCU Lahore Dramatics Club has come up with an annual stage play rendered in Punjabi. Over the years GCU’s Dramatics Club has become widely known and revered for its annual plays, but since many years, English has become the primary medium of such renditions at GCU, as well as other universities.
The revival of the Punjabi stage play at GCU could have far reaching influence to counter some of the stigmas attached with the Punjabi language. The GCU Lahore Annual Play, Akhri Show (The Last Show), is written by noted philosopher Professor Mirza Ather Baig and showcases the transition from traditional Punjabi cinemas to modern corporate cinemas.
The story of the play revolves around the fading cinema culture, affording the audience a sneak peek into the past and the glimpses of various modulations of culture.
Directed by GCUDC Advisor Irfan Randhawa, the play features various lives that are roped in with the last show at the Kings’ Cinema on a cold winter evening.
Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Hassan Amir Shah praised the invaluable efforts put in by GCUDC for the survival of the glorious theatrical traditions in GCU Lahore. He appreciated that the play was complete show of GCU Dramatics as no technical or any other kind of support was hired from outside. He also laid stress on revival of decent Punjabi cinema which one could watch with the family.