The Arts Council’s latest offering to the cultural circuit is yet another feather in the administration’s cap and this time, quite literally, with the Special Olympics Pakistan adaptation of Michael Cooney’s Cash on Delivery, Kis Ki Topi Kis Ke Sar.
The play revolves around the life of Junaid Shahi (Saqib Sumeer) and his simple-minded tenant Tanvir (Nazrul Hasan). Junaid, who has been unemployed for the past few months, resorts to swindling governmental and non-governmental organisations into providing him with state support by disguising himself as a person with physical disabilities.
But the cracks in his conniving plan start to appear when Munir (Bilal Yousufzai), a representative of the government income support programme, pays him a visit. In an attempt to make his story seem more plausible, the protagonist starts creating tragic backstories about the people around him. Eventually, Junaid’s lies start to catch up with him as his wife and government officials begin suspecting him.
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Helmed by Sarwat Gilani, who has made her directorial debut, and Zeeshan Haider, the play features an ensemble cast, comprising notable National Academy of Performing Arts’ (Napa) graduates Nazrul Hasan, Saqib Sumeer, Muhammad Hassan Raza and Erum Bashir alongside emerging thespians, such as Amtul Baweja and Hunain Maniar.
Despite Sumeer essaying the role of a protagonist, it was Hasan’s performance as a soon-to-be-married and confused tenant that was the highlight of the show. Theatre director Nida Butt of the Music Art Dance School, who was part of the audience, praised his versatility and striking chemistry with the rest of the cast. “I think they chose a very good script. The acting was really good and it was tight with on-point comic timing. Nazrul Hasan is a versatile actor as he can do different kinds of roles,” Butt told The Express Tribune.
Sharing that the play was executed to support the Special Olympics organisation and promote a great cause, she noted that such events serve a dual purpose. “Not only should people come and watch the play because it promotes the theatre-going culture in the country but also because it supports a cause such as the Special Olympics Pakistan,” she added.
On how the theme and storyline made the play an ideal choice for the audience, co-director Zeeshan Haider said, “Special Olympics helps those in need and here’s [a comic] story of a man who pretends to be needy, conning the government and NGOs.”
Although Kis Ki Topi Kis Ke Sar featured a few alterations to the original play, this isn’t the first time a Michael Cooney play has been adapted for local audiences. Almost a year ago, the play was performed at Napa under the title Sau Din Chor Ke. Kis Ki Topi Kis Ke Sar will go on to be performed at the Karachi Arts Council till October 13.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 8th, 2015.
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