CinderJutt can best be described as a hot curry of cold stereotypes, garnished with a few Bollywood item songs. The cast includes a Pathan, a gandasa-waving Jutt, a homosexual fashion designer and a Lakhnavi man who greets everyone with an “adaab”; there is also a Sikh and an ajrak-clad Sindhi.
The title of the play may pique audiences’ interest for its peculiarity, but the story fails to offer more than an elaborate set design and Bollywood numbers.
Directed by Javed Ahmed Saeedi, the play is a contemporary take on Cinderella. The story is about three brothers, out of which one is ridiculed by the other two and his stepmother. Unfortunately, the script is weak and leaves one wondering where it is headed; it ends with a feel-good public service message of loving Pakistan and promoting education for all. While the non-stop comedy resembles an Omar Sharif play in terms of format, CinderJutt is not nearly as funny or socially relevant.
As far as the play’s strength goes, credit must be given to the CinderJutt team for an elaborate production. From the set design to the duration of the play, it sailed quite smoothly. The set is guaranteed to take your breath away, but the presence of a JS Bank ATM (the official sponsors of the production) is a little out of place. While the tickets are incredibly creative, with a paper ‘platinum credit card’ as “your key to enter the Jutt mansion”, the over emphasis on the sponsor was a bit too much to digest. It reminds one of a PTV play titled Mera Ghar Ek Whirlpool, where deep freezers could be seen in every other shot.
Credit must also be given to the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) for churning out formally trained artists and raising the bar for actors high, proof of which is actor Saqib Sumeer. His phenomenal acting and improvisational skills in CinderJutt singlehandedly hold the play together. Faizan Sheikh, as Talwaar Khan, does well for his small yet noticeable performance, managing to earn smiles. The rest of the cast underperformed, and were almost like A’ Level students working on a big budget. It seems that the organisers of the play stopped at the physical attributes of actors while casting, and didn’t test their endurance for something as intense as theatre.
Not only does the play have Bollywood songs, it has taken inspiration from movies by using clichéd dialogue. One of the characters spoke in a Dabangg-inspired accent and said things like “Eee ka kar raha hai”, instead of “Yeh kia kar raha hai.” The play also included scenes taken from an Omar Sharif play, to which a member from the audience reacted: “Yeh tau Omar Sharif ke dramay mein tha!”
Verdict: The humour in CinderJutt is crude, prejudiced and largely below the belt, quite like the tools adopted in Omar Sharif productions. The only difference is that it is bilingual and is catered to a different audience altogether. All in all, CinderJutt lasts much longer than one would hope for.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2013.
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