When we think of theatre in Pakistan, one name that immediately comes to mind is Katha — a theatre group founded by actor Sania Saeed and her husband, Shahid Shafaat in 1992. The theatre organisation has since then been committed to revive different theatre genres including comedy and childrens’ plays in Pakistan.
With Saeed as the face of Katha, one thing the audience can expect from their plays is quality acting. From her first theatre project Aahat, an Indian script that was reproduced for the Pakistani theatre Prem Kahani, Sania has sure come a long way and is ready to make waves yet again. Saeed is gearing up to take the stage again as Naila Anjum in Mein Adakaara Banoongi. The play is loosely based on British playwright Willy Russel’s play Educating Rita and it is coming back after being staged in 2009 under the banner of KopyKat productions.
Excited about being a part of the play again, Saeed is hoping for a great response this time as well. “We did Mein Adakara Banongi back in 2008 which ran for just four days. The response was really good back then, but people were not happy that it ended so soon,” says Saeed. “This time around, the only difference would be that we will be running it for a longer time and under the banner of KopyKat productions.”
Shafaat, Sania’s husband, is equally thrilled about the return of Mein Adakaar Banoongi. “We are bringing this play again because we got a phenomenal response last time. I can safely say that Mein Adakaara Banoongi is one of the well-received plays that we have done so far,” says Shafaat. “Four days were not enough. Therefore, this time around, we felt we should bring it back for the fans. KopyKat also had a huge part to play in this since we are bringing it under their banner,” he adds.
The play, which drew a lot of theatre lovers back in 2009, will have Abdullah Farhatullah playing alongside Sania as Zegham. As an actor who takes every role as a challenge, Sania thoroughly enjoys working with Farhat. “It was a great experience working with Ehteshamuddin in Mein Adakara Banoongi in 2008. This time we did approach him, but because of his busy schedule he could not be a part of it. The new actor, Abdullah Farhatullah, I think is equally hilarious and did full justice to the character,” adds Saeed. She also says that it is great to see young energy on stage and Abdullah definitely has that burning passion that a theatre actor needs to have to make it big.
When asked to compare poignant art plays like Mein Adakaara Banoongi and other commercial plays that hit the stage today, Shafaat says that theatre genres cannot and should not be compared. However, he feels that theatre producers have gone a bit too extreme. “We should aim to strike a balance between the two- it should be both, commercial and educative,” says Shafaat. “With Mein Adakaara Banoongi, we have tried to appeal all sorts of audiences — from an intellectual to someone who only wants entertainment. This is what makes this play so special — it has that universal element to it.”
Striving to come back stronger this time, Shafaat is hopeful for the future of theatre in Pakistan. “Theatre has definitely grown in Pakistan and we are looking forward to putting up a great play for the audience. We are looking to come back stronger this time and expecting a great response,” he says on a final note.The play will be staged at the Karachi Arts council from 8th August to 8th September.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2014.