The play started with the veteran actor Arshad Durrani who has come back to theatre after a long break.
The play was mostly in Punjabi and Arshad Durrani played the part of a ‘patang saz’ (kite maker) , Ustad Maju ,whose family had been in the business for generations and the mohalla they lived was called ‘mohalla pattang sazan’ after the profession of his family. His calm movements and flawless expressions were done to perfection and so natural that he is embedded in my head as a kite loving,dhoti wearing grandfather who has been to jail just because he cannot stop making kites.
His character talks to kites and sad for the loss of colours in the skies due to the ban on kite flying in Lahore.
The play had light moments and some exceptionally sad ones as well. Depicted in it was the hypocrisy of those who claim to be the sole protectors of Islam and are adamant on forcing their world view everyone. While in reality the whole game is about property, money and power.
RTC was perhaps the most entertaining yet sad aspect of the play. Rok tham committee (RTC) or the kill-joy committee in easier terms was against everything from Metaphysics, to poetry to girls and boys sitting less than 3 feet apart.They actually measured the distance!
The whole situation was Orwellian but idiocy such as this, sadly has happened in Pakistani universities.
The coordination of the actors was wonderful but the true acting challenge was when the power failed and the back up generators took some time to start.It was visible in the dim light that the actors were paused in exactly the same position and when the lights came back,they went on
as if nothing had happened.
Ustad Maju had a dialogue that hit every person in the hall.
‘The city needs kite flying Tiny, high rising houses-the need to be free,’ Another pinching and thought provoking one was by a young character Guddi (which also means kite flying) says on the ban about kite flying; ‘There are no Uzbek kites here!’
It was a wonderful play by Ajoka which was celebrating its thirty years but there were some short comings as well.
The way in which only the negative and twisted followers of Islam were depicted is a very narrow view of Muslims.As a practicing Muslim I am offended when only one side of the coin is shown..Ajoka has taken to showing the problems in our society which a great effort but not all Muslims are fanatics who hate kite flying-not all burka clad women are Taliban followers or bullied by men into wearing a burka. I have seen Pakistani women hike and camp in Burkas and hijab.
And I have always found it mind boggling why the self proclaimed ‘liberals’ are so scared of the burka/abaya killing our culture.Culture is meant to evolve and change,if it is not evolving the way you want it to- accept reality and move on.
That said, another major short coming was that the play was too long.Some dialogues could have easily been much shorter and it could have been a one hour play without killing the spirit.
But on the whole it was a good play and a great effort by Ajoka theatre to promote theatre and a more open to arts mind set.
Their next play is ‘Bullah’ and will be held in AlHamra arts council on the 21st of November.