LAHORE: Veteran playwrights have taken a lot of pain selecting the appropriate title for their plays as theatregoers take a certain impression from a play’s title. The job, however, has become quite ‘simple’ in commercial theater now as many believe that all it takes is watching some famous item songs to get a catchy title for the play.
This seems quite befitting to an ongoing play named Sheila Ki Jawani being performed at Lahore’s Alfalah Theatre.
Directed and written by Nasim Vicky and produced by Qismat Khan, the play stars Nargis, Nasim Vicky and Shehzadi in the lead roles. Despite the extreme cold weather in Lahore, the play has been doing roaring business and the organisers associate its success with its name primarily.
“This name has been very lucky. The overall business of commercial theatre is a little upset due to the cold these days but this play has been doing quite well. Katrina Kaif has done an excellent job dancing [in the song’s video] but Nargis is doing an equally good job,” said one of the organisers, who wished to remain anonymous.
When asked about the awkwardness of naming an entire play after a single item number, he said, “This is just a name. The script of the play is quite different from the film and this name leaves the people guessing about the story of the play”.
Nasim Vicky believes that the name is befitting for the play as people are familiar with the song “Sheila ki jawani”. He said that the play had been receiving very good response from the audience.
The script and titles of the commercial plays are approved by the Punjab Arts Council (PAC) and the Home Department. PAC has writers on its panel who go through the scripts and approve them. It is quite rare that a name is not approved or the objection is raised on it.
Talking to The Express Tribune, chairman of Commercial Theatre Producers Association, Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ahmad said, “I don’t remember many plays having names rejected by PAC. There was a play named Botul (Bottle) and when we sent its script to PAC, they asked us to change the name”.
“I agree that commercial plays should have reasonable names instead of having Munni Badnaam Hui type names. Not all commercial theatre producers prefer to have these types of names. We believe that scripts that have elements of vulgarity or inappropriate names should not be approved,” he added.
Ahmad said that often the title of the play has nothing to do with the script or the story. “This is quite common that when a script is completed, the name of the play is selected without paying much attention towards it. Producers and directors often select a name which has some present relevance to attract the audience,” he maintained.
Officials of PAC said that there were only a few writers on the panel of the art council and they didn’t scrutinise everything. “At times things are over-looked, including titles of the plays, that get approved. We maintain quality in our plays and select very suitable names/titles for them,” he maintained.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2011.