LAHORE: Khatra-i-Jan is an amiable, quirky comedy performed by students at the Alhamra Arts Council. Aside from a few minor quibbles about the production, the play is well-acted and an all-round competent effort.
Khatra-i-Jan is written by Dr Anwar Sajjad. The play’s main character is a quack, Dr Ahmedi, whose daughter, Bano, is enamoured with his nephew, Khalid. The doctor opposes the match. Enter the ghost of Sheeda Bhatti Wala, a former patient of the doctor who died due to his incompetence. Sheeda is visible only to the doctor. Others can only hear his voice. The doctor’s assistant Majid and others conclude that the doctor has lost his marbles.
Sheeda wants to take the doctor along to the next world; however, the doctor is not prepared. A deal is struck between the two; Sheeda will allow the doctor some time on earth if the doctor allows his daughter to marry her beloved. The doctor agrees and the marriage takes place. The doctor, however, has a change of heart as soon as the ghost disappears, and refuses to publicly approve of their union. Sheeda returns, reprimands the doctor, and this time around takes him along. The play is a light-hearted comedy with many laugh-out-loud moments. One of these is the entrance of Sheeda Bhatti Wala, who appears in the middle of the hall clad in a white overcoat. His appearance startles some in the audience but also evokes applause. Another moment that was entertaining was when Khalid disguises himself in a burqa and visits the doctor’s clinic to meet Bano.
At a time when the theatrical scene in Lahore is operating without any script-oriented plays, students from different education institutions including Lahore Grammar School (LGS), Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums), Beaconhouse National University (BNU) and Lahore School of Economics (LSE), have formed Hellbox Productions and presented Khatra-i-Jaan as their first venture.
Talal Ali Jan, the director, a Lums student, said that the performance was the result of seven months of hard work. “We have just introduced our company. We hope that we will get good feedback from the sponsors. We hope to stage another play in December,” Syed Asim Zubair, assistant project developer of the production house told The Express Tribune.
The play is a good effort, and certainly entertaining. However, the lighting needed to be worked on and the plot could have been tighter. The students acted well and it was remarkable that they managed to pull it together.
Shah Sharabeel, Omair Rana, Shoaib Mansoor and executives of several multinational businesses are supposed to be in attendance for the final day’s performance on Saturday.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2010.