From 7th to 9th September 2017, at the Sadler’s Wells you will be able to see ISHQ, a tale of two lovers and their feuding families and holds the same place in Punjabi literature as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This musical will be very special, so you shouldn’t miss it at all, because it will be a celebration of 70 years of independence and Pakistan-UK relations.
I was very lucky to interview Farooq Beg, the director of ISHQ, and here you can read it:
Musicals Are Great: What is ISHQ about, can you explain the plot to me a little?
Farooq Beg: ISHQ actually means extreme, unrequited love, a love that has no limits and is all consuming and is compared to divinity. A very difficult word to define in English!
The plot is in modern terms pretty simple, a girl meets boy love story akin to Romeo & Juliet. In fact, those who have read the script have all commented that perhaps the Shakespeare took his inspiration from the folklore tale.
I did not want ISHQ to be just another tragic love story though, Mushfiq Murshid’s script has given it a very pertinent and important twist by bringing out modern day issues faced by women making it so relevant even today.
Heer is a powerful character who challenges male domination and a patriarchal society that gave women no rights at all… She stands up for her rights as a woman as written in the holy book the Quran.
So ISHQ has numerous twists and turns. Can’t let too many secrets out!!!
MAG: The show is a combination of classical and modern dance, how is that going to be and what are we going to see on stage?
FB: We are very privileged to have two superb choreographers, Owen Smith and Suhaee Abro. Owen Smith is a veteran and it’s a delight to watch him train dancers in very unusual movements that defy gravity. Suhaee Abro is a young talent dancer and choreographer from Pakistan who is proficient in various forms of South Asian dance forms. I am sure they will create magic together.
MAG: This musical is about diversity and Pakistani culture within the UK, that’s a strong and important message, how is it transmitted in the show?
FB: Oh absolutely. You would be hard pressed to find a better example at this level. The mixing of cultures brought about through a whole range of nationalities on stage and the mixing of music and dance forms and more importantly the messages of love, the abhorrence of hate, the empowerment of women and the commonality of human values regardless of colour, creed and religion is such a powerful message to put across and its these issues that are threatening us and need to be driven home.
MAG: How has the process of creating the show been?
FB: Not easy! However we have experience of putting on big scale shows involving 2-300 actors which have been highly appreciated and lauded and above all we have a superb ‘ring master’ producer Huma who is an octopus and great at steering any ship in the wild seas and aptly supported by a diligent Associate producer, Tara Finney. So it’s going well and what would the stage be without its surprises!
MAG: Which kind of songs are we going to listen to?
FB: Brilliant ones. Four very talented musicians are working on the score. Ian Brandon who is the lead composer from the UK has written masterpieces that will go a long way, Lawrence Michaelosky is doing the orchestration and some pieces I have just listened to are very beautiful!
Emmu is a name in music in Pakistan and the leader of one of the most famous bands (FUZON) from Pakistan, his music brings out the best of Punjabi culture in the foot tapping Asian style and we have Kansia Pritchard, whom I call Gurujee, having travelled the world learning and sharing music styles from South Asia. She is also a great instrumentalist.
And in all this, stitching it all together is Owen Smith who is also the dramaturg and has done a great job at adapting my lyrics to suit Ian’s music.
MAG: Is there any other musical in the West End like ISHQ?
FB: I cannot answer that but all those working on it think so! I feel people will remember ISHQ for a long time!
MAG: What’s your favourite song from ISHQ?
I’m still trying to decide, the moment I like one another comes along!
MAG: Many thanks!