Theatre lovers and practitioners flocked to the Arts Council of Pakistan Karachi on the inaugural day of the first Theatre Festival organised by the council on Thursday. A red carpet event preceded the opening performance of the event where media persons got a chance to mingle with the artists.
Anwer Jafri, who is associated with Tehreek-i-Niswan said: “It’s a healthy sign that theatre festivals are being organised in the city. Look at Karachi’s population, it’s (20 million) one-tenth of Pakistan. As for the quality of plays, I feel if such activities keep happening on a regular basis, good stuff will automatically come out of it. The audience too will have an opportunity to decide what’s good and what’s not. Right now, the choice is limited.”
Writer Hasina Moin said: “Our very distinguished critic Fauq says about the theatre that in all of literary genres, theatre is the closest to life. He reasons that you (artists) interact with the audience on a one-on-one basis, and the message is sent across in a seamless way.”
TV producer Athar Waqar Azeem said: “It is an important activity. We’ve kept the quality aspect in mind, which is why people like Zia Mohyeddin have been requested to come and take part in the festival.”
Responding to the question about vetting of plays, Mr Azeem said care was taken in that regard. “There were certain plays staged at the council against which I protested arguing that their scripts should have been checked beforehand. Unless you have quality material, you can’t encourage theatre (activities). The festival is our first endeavour, and we hope things will move forward from here.”
After the red carpet pleasantries, the first play was staged. It was the legendary writer Intizar Husian’s drama Khwabon Ke Musafir directed by Zia Mohyeddin. The play highlights the pangs of migration by focusing on a family which has recently migrated from India to Pakistan. The principal characters in the story are Miyan Jaan (Saad Zamir Faridi) and Buji (Shumaila Taj). The couple has a daughter, Kishwer (Maria Saad), whom the mother wants to marry off as soon as possible. Mian Jaan’s sister, Bari Bua (Zarqa Naz), lives with them. She has a son, Shahid (Taha Khan). Buji wishes Kishwer tie the knot with Shahid, whereas her daughter is romantically involved with another cousin, Iffo (Adnan Anis).
Khwabon Ke Musafir raises many issues through its multi-layered characters and situations, foremost of which is the issue of displacement of a family caused by migrating into another cultural milieu. Then the philosophical notions of life and the discussion on science and atheism are also touched upon. And then there is the beautiful and expressions-laden Urdu language of Intizar Husain whose meaningfulness and tonal resonance is fast fading away from our society.