LAHORE: On Eidul Azha, cinemas are not the only ones expecting a lot of activity in Lahore since commercial theatres too have begun lining up their shows for the upcoming festival.
With business usually peaking during these holidays, producers and troupes are already through with hiring the most sought-after actors for their productions.
Famous dancer and actor Nargis has once again emerged as the most expensive performer, okaying a 16-day spell for her upcoming play that has been named Sohniyo Eid Mubarik.
With the production she is reportedly making as much as Rs2.5 million, an amount above and beyond what most of the others are making.
Having recently returned to Alhamra Hall, Nargis will once again take to the stage of the state-owned venue, which is likely to see the biggest crowd.
According to director Goshi Khan, Nargis has a following of her own and her fans would definitely not want to miss the opportunity to see her perform.
Being the highest paid theatre dancer obviously comes with its own perks. Khan said the script and cast for Sohniyo Eid Mubarik had already been locked but Nargis did not appreciate the choices and changed things around quite a bit. “She visited the hall and finalised a new cast and script. We trust her judgment and know that her choices have never gone wrong,” he said.
The director, whose words make him seem almost powerless, said it is true that Nargis is being paid an exorbitant amount but the producers have reason to believe they will recover every penny. “Last month she performed here and that drama did really well in terms of earnings,” he added.
Popular comedian Naseem Vicky, who has recently shot to fame across the border for his appearances on shows of Indian comic Kapil Sharma, and Nasir Chinyoti will also join Nargis for her play.
Nonetheless, Alhamra is not the only venue expected to open their doors on Eid. Other theatres like Mehfil, Alfalah, Shalimar, Tamasil, Bari and Naz are also being decorated and prepared for their own shows. With not much time left on their hands, the producers have already begin putting up advertisement posters across the city. In terms of cost and accessibility, theatre is the most common choice for the average Lahori when it comes to Eid entertainment. Light-hearted, commercial plays revolving around themes of the festival and the socio-political environment are usually appreciated. For dancers, actors and backstage helpers, all this means business.
Apart from Nargis, other popular artists who are expected to perform include Khushboo, Nida Chaudhary, Priya Khan, Qismat Baig, Payal Chaudhary, Aisha Chaudhary, Sunehri Khan and Shanza. Khushboo is being paid around Rs1 million while the remaining will take home Rs0.5 million each.
Famous dancer of the past, Megha, is also set to make a comeback and take to the stage of Shalimar Theatre. One of the most sought-after performers at one point, Megha has also signed a contract worth Rs1 million. There she will be joined by Aisha, Payal and Shanza.
While Priya, Sunehri and Nida will perform at Mehfil, Khushboo and Qismat will entertain audiences at Alfalah.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 9th, 2016.