The 4th Annual Urdu Culture Show at UC Berkeley was held on May 3rd, 2009. After being disappointed last year, I was expecting improvement this year, and I am glad to say that this year’s show was ten times better than the last one.
The usual lineup of acts included a live song, poem recitation, ghazal performance, funny story, Qawwali, funny news segment Khabarnama, bhangra dance, and a scripted Mushaira. Guest speakers included UC Berkeley Urdu Professor Aftab Ahmed, Ashraf Habibullah, and Naveeda Ellahie (cookie aunty).
There is a special talent that is bubbling on the UC Berkeley campus. Her name is Farhat Desai. She deserves a special nod for her live song performance Yeh Mera Prem Patra by none other than Mohammad Rafi. She performed without any background music and was excellent; I can’t even imagine what she might have achieved with music.
That said, everyone else did an excellent job, and most performers showed they had a good grasp of Urdu. Guest speakers were entertaining and fun to listen to, especially Mr. Ashraf Habibullah, who is quite talented in word delivery.
The only thing I believe needs work is the hosting part of the show. Like last year, hosting was average and could have been better. Besides being fluent in Urdu, hosts should be lively and set the mood for the acts by incorporating various techniques. Rushing to announce the next act was normal at this year’s show, and that didn’t sit well with most people, including me. Next year maybe they should not have any hosts if they can’t find people who can speak proper Urdu. That will be very odd but at least less embarrassing.
Pakistani Student Association, or PAKSA, has shown that with every show, they strive to improve and learn from past mistakes. It was evident in this year’s show that they tried to do things differently and approached the entire show with seriousness and a positive attitude. I wish them all the best in 2010 and really hope they leave the politics aside and develop a better hosting routine.