Stage Monster: Ainak Wala Jinn hits Lahore

Express April 16, 2010

KARACHI: Even though stories about witches and wizards have been part of Pakistani literature and folklore for decades, they are now more commonly associated with the Harry Potter franchise.

But before a wizard with a lightening-shaped scar captured our imagination, there was “Ainak Wala Jinn”. The beloved children’s show from the 1990s is currently being revived on the Lahore stage. This extremely popular television show for children was a must-watch for children every evening. The show ended a few years ago but it has recently been adapted for the stage.

Actors from the “Ainak Wala Jinn” cast have been performing a stage version of the show for several months now. The performances, held on Sundays at the Alhamra Arts Council in Lahore, are targeted to children. Tickets are sold at a nominal price to be able to bring a dose of magic to everyone. “Ainak Wala Jinn” was set in a mythical world and featured the quintessential theme of good versus evil, with the bespectacled Nastoor as its lead character. An entire generation of children brought up on state-run television programming was addicted to the adventures of this motley crew. The dialogues of the show became as popular as the show itself and are still referred to today.

While efforts were made to restart the show, the revival episodes could not attract the attention of an audience that by then had different choices, including channels dedicated to airing cartoons 24 hours a day.

Recalling the magic

Fans of the show told The Express Tribune what they loved about it.

“The first 200 episodes of ‘Ainak Wala Jinn’ had a lot of
substance and could capture one’s imagination. But by
the 300th episode, they lost the plot. They should have
stopped at the right time. Changing the characters by
the end didn’t work.”

- Rehana Ali,journalist

“Like other kids, ‘Ainak Wala Jinn’ was my favorite show on
TV. Some might say that this was because we didn’t have
anything else to watch, but I believe the show had quite a
genuine appeal.”

- Ali Ahmed, journalist

“I think ‘Ainak Wala Jinn’ was a great effort to introduce
programming for children. I was in the tenth grade
when they started airing it. Even though my classmates
used to only watch English movies and shows, soon everyone
was following ‘Ainak Wala Jinn’. People had started
using ‘Ainak Wala Jinn’ lingo; there would be references to
dialogues from it and to a certain extent, it’s permanently
influenced our language and vocabulary.”

- Rubab Khan, journalist

“It was amazing; the concept was really ‘mughal’ and the
ainak wala jinn was pretty scary. I loved the way he laughed.”

- Yasir Herekar, business executive

“It was futuristic, even in the early 1990s they used the
best sci-fi they could and it was very creative. It was a

- Sania Waqar, business analyst

“Initially I thought it was scary because the word jinn
frightened me. I used to hide behind the sofa when the
show came on but then I saw the jinn in his hideous glasses
and moustache and realised he was more ugly than scary.”

- Nael Masud, investment banker

“‘Ainak Wala Jinn’ was one of the few Pakistani productions
aimed at taking both children and their parents
into an elaborate fantasy world and allowing them to
indulge their imagination. Bringing together the wonder
of magic with eccentric and highly memorable characters,
the series provided an entire generation of Pakistani children
with something to bond over, at a time when foreign
channels had yet to infiltrate our television sets.”

- Danish Munir, IT consultant

“That show was ridiculous but also kind of awesome!
What I never understood was why would a jinn wear glasses
... wouldn’t his jinn powers give him good sight?”

- Zara Tariq, lawyer

“I remember watching it every day from 4 pm to 5 pm
for years. It was the most amazing thing back then. But
I am sure it will seem like the most idiotic production if we
watch it now.”

- Tania Mirza, TV producer

“It was weird. I never liked it. There were characters who
overacted too much.”

- Zuhair Qidwai, student

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