Aasman Se Gira: The Pakistani Lend Me a Tenor
NAPA’s theatre play, Aasman Se Gira (2016), is adapted by Babar Jamal, assisted by Saddam Hussain and directed by Uzma Sabeen. The plot centres on an event manager’s decision, who invites a popular star to play the role of a traditional hero from the famous folklore, Heer Ranjha, for his grand show. The show is sold out. The play starts out great, but due to a few unfortunate mishaps, things do not go according to plan.
During the play, there’s a scene where the dressing and makeup of the two main actors is almost identical. This hilarious moment is similar to Hollywood’s classic comedy film (belonging to the golden era) Duck Soup (1933) starring the Marx Brothers.
The full cast comprises of eight performers in which Saad Zameer Fareedi plays Chauhan (aka Henry Saunders), Ahmer Hussain as Shaani (aka Max), Erum Ero as Maira (aka Maggie Saunders), Farhan Alam as Alam Rushdi (aka Tito Merelli), Zarqa Naz as Khanam (aka Julia), Najma Kifayat as Ronak (aka Diana), Shumaila Taj as Mehrunnisa (aka Maria) and finally Muhammad Owais Mubashir as Waiter (aka The Bellhop).
The high points of the play revolve around the main stars (Farhan Alam and Ahmer Hussain) due to their memorable and untimely comic performances. I must say that Farhan’s character was quite new for me as he usually plays roles that are loud, dramatic, and serious. This time he delivered a highly comical performance as an iconic character, ‘Alam Rushdi’ – so iconic, in fact, that he may as well be remembered by this name rather than Farhan Alam.
On the other hand, Zarqa Naz and Najma Kifayat gave impressive performances. Najma Kifayat as Ronak played a seductive role and reminded me of how Anne Bancroft tries to seduce Dustin Hoffman in the Hollywood classic The Graduate (1967).
Actors with minor roles were overshadowed and, for me, that was one of the play’s biggest flaws. Before finalising an actor for a minor role, the producer needs to make sure the role is interesting and has humorous punch lines. If that isn’t the case, it would be a waste of time for an actor to even bother performing. The perfect example of this was seen in the Bollywood movie Dil To Pagal Hai (1997) – Akshay Kumar played the supporting role and I’m sure majority of the audience don’t even remember him being a part of the film.
This time, the witty dialogues were less interesting than Babar Jamal’s previous play, Mere Samne Wali Khirdki Mein. Dialogues lacked comedy. Rather, it was the actor’s performance that made the play comical.
It was great watching Erum Bashir perform on stage. However, I feel that the character she played did not allow her to prove just how talented she really is.
I believe that actors should focus on improving the quality of the drama itself, even during comical situations. It would make the performance more powerful by instilling the element of comedy rather than delivering static punch lines for momentary bouts of humour.
I’d like to thank Uzma Sabeen for yet another good play. Please do direct more farcical comedies. Keep working on improving them, along with Babar Jamal’s passion and determination, and I’m sure you would end up directing another outstanding play.
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