After the glorious revival of Arts Council as a venue for both fresh and visionary theatrical features, and with the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) successfully garnering attention from a specific target audience, it is now time for venues like Southend Club to offer their halls for good theatre. Karachiites will soon witness a heart-warming, theatrical love story Aapki Soniya, starring acting gems Sajid Hasan and Mehwish Hayat at Southend Club — a potential theatre hotspot.
The play is written by the renowned playwright Javed Siddiqi, who has not only written scripts for blockbuster films such as Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge but also has artistic film like Fiza and Zubeidaa to his credit. It is directed by Bollywood actor-turned-face of Pakistani television, Alyy Khan.
The rehearsals are going on in full swing as The Express Tribune talks to Khan and Hasan about the play, just a day before its official launch.
“Well I am a bit nervous,” laughs Hasan. “After all, I have made a comeback to the stage after such a long time.” “However, what I am really afraid of is what if Mehwish and I are acting on stage in front of only four people in the audience. So I urge people to see our play because they are going to love it,” he adds.
Aapki Soniya is actually a sequel to Siddiqi’s legendary play Tumhari Amrita, an adaptation of A.R Gurney’s American play Love Letters from the 1980s. The Indian version is known for its fantastic rendition, with Shabana Azmi and Farooq Sheikh as the lead actors. A sequel to this play was previously staged in India in 2004 with Farooq Sheikh and Sonali Bendre as main leads. However, what remains to be seen is if the veteran actor Hasan and the gorgeous Hayat offer us a justifying experience.
Upon asking how he finally decided to get back to theatre, Hasan says, “I wasn’t willing to do stage because it is very labour intensive but this play is such a beautiful piece of literature that I had no choice.” He then adds, “The credit goes to Khan for insisting so much that I just couldn’t say no.”
As far as director Alyy Khan is concerned, Aapki Soniya is more of a transition from on-screen to off-screen, since he has played numerous characters, including his role as Sheikh Omar in A Mighty Heart, effortlessly.
“Javed sahab has been a great friend of mine since my time in Mumbai and he was insisting that I should act in the play. However, I wanted to remain behind the scenes,” says Khan. Sharing his love for theatre, he adds, “Theatre has always been my first love and since I had found two incredibly talented and experienced actors, it made my job easier.”
Considering that Bollywood-inspired musicals are selling like hot cakes, whereas theatres like Napa, with its non-commercial and artistic pieces, are struggling hard to secure a strong place amongst the audience, the question that arises is where do the makers of Aapki Soniya place themselves?
“To be honest, I have seen quite a lot of theatre but commercial plays like Lovengers are meant for a different audience altogether. In our play, the audience will definitely see something more elegant and mature,” asserts Khan.
The rather interesting trio of Khan, Hayat and Hasan has definitely raised the audience’s expectations from the play as one expects something completely different and sophisticated from Khan, a talented and experienced thespian. “As an artist I always advocate one agenda — ‘less is more’. The audience is definitely in for some surprises,” claims Khan. Actor Sajid Hasan believes that women in particular are going to love this one.
The play runs between June 21 to June 30, with tickets priced at Rs1,000 each.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2013.