‘Nek Parveen’: A mixed bag of highs and lows

If theater was food, Napa’s latest offering is a plate full of delicious curry served cold.

Rafay Mahmood January 02, 2012


After a successful curtain raiser for Napa Repertory Theatre’s (NRT) “Nek Parveen”, there was much hype surrounding its staging at the Karachi Arts Council on December 30 till January 8. With a winning combination of literatis and a stellar cast behind the production, it seemed it was bound for success. Written by Agha Hashar Kashmiri, based on Henry Arthur Jones’ “The Silver King” and directed by the legendary Zia Moheyeddin, audiences entered the theatre halls with great expectations. However, despite Moheyeddin’s best directorial efforts, the play could not match up to his previous masterpieces like “The Seagull” and “Habib Mamoon”.

The plot revolved around the alcoholic Afzal, his devoted wife Parveen and some of Afzal’s exploitive friends. The cast includes actors Akbar Islam, Aimen Tariq, Ali Rizvi, Paras Masroor, Sunil Shankar, Mesum Naqvi, Ovais Mangalwalla, Muskaan Fatima, Athar Abass, Faiza Hassan and Nazarul Hassan. The play is essentially a melodrama with exaggerated dialogue delivery and intentional over-acting.

The selection of script proved to be the real bone of contention for several critics. While the scripts of “The Seagull” and “Habib Mamoon” were strong on their own, the same could not be said about “Nek Parveen”. Although the plot was interesting, the scriptwriting could have been stronger.

Some complained that the language was very difficult while others appreciated the well-written one-liners of the play. A few even thought the actors too young to embody the older characters. Furthermore, for the first time in Napa’s history, the set design was very disappointing and could not capture the periodic feel of the play. What the talented graduates of Napa require is a range of new directors who have not been their teachers and only then can their true potential be witnessed on stage.

Still, there were others who were emotionally connected with the narrative from the start to end. It also managed to evoke laughter and emotion every now and then. The overall standard of acting was above par and matched the benchmark set by Napa itself. However, the worrying fact is that most of their graduates have stopped evolving as actors. Tariq is a prime example of this, as despite his performances on TV and several plays, he tends to play all kinds of characters in a similar fashion.

Hasan, on the other hand, delivered according to the need of the play, whereas actors Islam and Shankar embodied their characters quite well. Naqvi and Abbas were hilarious on stage.

Despite its shortcomings, “Nek Parveen” is a play that should be watched by people of all ages as it offers the right amount of nostalgia combined with prolific Urdu poetry and much needed hilarity.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2012.


ss | 10 years ago | Reply

I went to see the play too and in fact the performances must be lauded since the actors were young. Dialogue delivery was prompt, sharp and clear. Most importantly, the script was very good. Liked it!

Hanif | 10 years ago | Reply

I do not agree with the article, I personally went to watch the play and even though I am not an ardent follower of Urdu theatre and cannot relate this to the earlier plays that Zia sb must have done, I did like it a lot. The Urdu diction was simply exemplary with the dialogues being of the nature that would relate to the times in which the play was written and was trying to depict also. All in all great performances all around, they certainly need to be watched and praised.

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