‘Hatim Tai’ casts a spell on stage at NAPA Young Directors Festival

Farhan Alam’s adaptation of the epic is the only fantasy production at NAPA Young Directors Festival

Our Correspondent November 27, 2015
Fans came out to watch the ‘fantasy adventure’ in droves and thoroughly enjoyed it. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


Author of the coveted Lord of the Rings trilogy, JRR Tolkien once said that, “It is usually assumed that children are the natural or especially appropriate audience for fairy-stories.” Play director Farhan Alam could not have selected a better story than Hatim Tai to refute this claim as grown-ups also came out to watch the ‘fantasy adventure’ in droves and actually enjoyed it.

The fifth offering from the ongoing Young Directors Festival at Karachi’s National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa), Hatim Tai is adapted from an original play by Mirwanjee Nusserwanjee Khanjee Aaram and billed as the ‘most fantastical’ and ‘epic’ play of the festival. It explored the adventures of Hatim Tai, the prince of Yemen — played by Kashif Hussain. Hammad Siddiq plays Hatim’s trusted sidekick Dumroo, a fairy from Paristan. Together, the duo set off on a quest to answer seven unusual questions that will break an evil spell cast on Hatim’s friends and so, rescue them.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Farhan explained why he opted to make a fantasy production rather than the mainstream drama and comedy plays conducted at Napa. “Producing a fantasy has always been a dream of mine,” said Farhan. “People in our part of the world have forgotten fantasy tales and stories. They are unaware that fantasy literature in the West actually borrows certain elements from our writings.”

When Othello and Macbeth didn’t get along

The play can be termed as an adventurous attempt as it is not devoid of flaws. Sound, for instance, seemed to be a pressing issue and dampened the performances a tad. The voice projection of the lead actors, including Kashif himself, was simply not loud enough to be heard by the audience. Also, the director’s use of background music attempted to give an ‘Arabian Nights’ feel to the story but, unfortunately, failed to do so.

As far as the acting goes, Kashif Hussain shone brightly during the action sequences — especially whilst sword-fighting with a demon monster. However, his performance left a lot to be desired otherwise and he was outshined by Hammad on more than one occasion. A special mention should be reserved for the entire supporting cast including Hammad Sartaj, Hammad Khan, Haris Khan, SM Jameel and Fraz Chottani. Burdened with responsibility to essay multiple characters throughout the play, each of them were able to transition from one role to another with utmost ease and ensured the audience did not get lost in the transition.

When the enslaved is not servile

Limited use of props might have proved a hindrance for the audience but was offset by an intelligent use of lights and background score. At certain instances, they gelled brilliantly with the neat choreography of action scenes to create a more mystical aura on stage. Kashif — who choreographed the sword-fighting sequences himself — also spoke about the difficulty of performing in a play that requires the cast to be aggresive. “You usually don’t see such performances in theatre,” he said. “Plus in a fantasy play, you need to push the envelope in order to make it more convincing for the audience.”

Produced under the banner of TKF Entertainment, Hatim Tai will be followed by Ghosts on November 28 and 29. This will be the last and final offering from the festival for this year.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 28th,  2015.

Like Life & Style on Facebook, follow @ETLifeandStyle on Twitter for the latest in fashion, gossip and entertainment.


Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

Most Read