It seems like love was the main topic of the weekend at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts where the ongoing 12th national theatre festival served up a host of interesting plays in different regional languages.
From Hyderabad, the Bhittai Art Council presented the popular Sindhi folk tale of love Umar-Marvi at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) stage on Sunday evening.
The Sindhi language play is the classic tale of a village girl who turns down the advances of a powerful ruler. But the play also highlighted women’s struggle in the contemporary context, how a woman fights for her self-respect and honour and how she deals with everything she faces with courage and valour.
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The house was packed with Sindhi speaking audience living in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
The modern take on the classic story — which appears in Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s Shah Jo Risalo —was written by Shahnawaz Bhatti and directed by Rafique Essani.
The cast of the play included Israr Leghari, Murk Shah, Ghazala Ali, Sidra Sheikh, Ayesha Mehak, Parri Mughal, Noor Memon, Akaash Ansari, Mushtaq Chandio, Firdous, Aashiq Hussain, and Allah Bukhsh Otho.
Hani and Shah Mureed
Earlier, Quetta-based theatre enthusiasts — the Al-Faiz Theatre Group — presented the classic tale of Hani and Shah Mureed from Balochistan.
An epic ballad from Balochi folklore, it is comparable to the tale of Romeo and Juliet where Sheh Mureed lost his betrothed Hani to his comrade Mir Chakar. The story dates back to the 15th century, a golden time for Baloch literature.
One day, on their way back from a hunt, they visit each other’s fiances since per custom they could not see their fiances till their marriage. But Mir Chakar gets fascinated by Hani. Later at a feast, all the lords take a vow. Mureed vows to give whatever someone asks him on his wedding day.
When the day arrives, Mir Chakkar cunningly asks Mureed for Hani’s hand. Mureed, compelled by honour, has to fulfil his vow and gives Chakkar Hani. The two leads in the play, Sheh Mureed and Hani, are symbols of tragedy and love.
The play was directed by Ghafoor Shaheen and Riaz Ahmed Saghir.
Shama aur Parwana
Another play, ‘Shama aur Parwana’ presented the youthful and soft emotions in the backdrop of the struggle for freedom.
The play, written and directed by Ishtiaq Ahmed Atish, reflects a folktale from Kashmir where feelings of a young woman are tied to her lover joining the army to struggle for the freedom of the Indian Occupied Kashmir.
The performers included MD Lone, Altaf Nadeem, Akhlaq Bokhari, Waqas Awan, Naila Shahzaman, Invesha Raja, Shabana Shahzaman, Komal Raja, and four young men from the army.
Later, a Brahvi language comedy-play ‘Orsay Maskhrasay, written and directed by Riaz Ahmed Saghir and produced by the Bolan Theatre of Quetta, was staged at the open-air theatre.
‘Shatranj kay Khiladi’ (the chess players) staged by the Roshi Theatre, Rawalpindi, presented an adaptation from the renowned Urdu fiction writer Munshi Premchand.
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The story delves into the reasons why mighty states fall in the united subcontinent with rulers preoccupied with social pleasures even as the British grabbed up everything, and arrested all the state lords.
Directed by Fazia Akhtar, the play starred Anjum Malik, Reeha Yousaf, Shabana Kanwal, Naima Wilson, Babar Abbas, and Rao Tariq Jameel.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2017.
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