SHAHID Nadeem and Madeeha Gauhar may not be the best playwright and director in the country but their three hours long spellbinding creation “Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh” encompassing the life and memorable works of Saadat Hassan Manto has certainly earned them the credit of making the common as well as educated people understand Manto much easily as never before.
The play ‘Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh’ staged in connection with the 100 years celebrations of Manto (May 1912-2012) at Alhamra Arts Council, was written by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Madeeha Gauhar. The play is in fact a very enlightening and closer look at Manto’s life, thought-provoking and exposes the negative attitude of the bureaucracy, clergy, civil society and the so-called intellectuals and writers of the new born Pakistan when he migrated to Lahore from Bombay in the early 50’s.
The play is a deep exploration of Manto’s thought process, the elements which contributed towards Manto’s personal and intellectual life and above all a true and realistic dramatisation of the events which tortured the mind and soul of this highly humanistic story writer of our times. Shahid Nadeem constructed a mosaic of Manto’s plays and important events of his life, netting them together like a spider’s web thus bringing a highly informative and clear profile of Manto as well as the hypocritical intellectuals, writers and so-called polished bureaucracy of newly created Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The immaculately perceived vision of Manto transformed into a powerful manuscript and the mesmerising dramatisation by Madeeha Gauhar brought Manto alive in almost literal meanings for at least two and a half hour on the stage of Alhamra Hall II through the flawless ‘Oscar-Level’ performance by the Ajoka Theatre’s brilliant young artistes. The entire play was more of a hair-raising short tour down the bloody memory lane at the time of independence.
A vivid and agonising depiction of the mayhem and massacre in 1947 with the aid of sounds and slides was one of the most appreciable parts of the whole mental and intellectual exercise which was experienced a jam packed audience. This memorable feast for eyes and ears was certainly one of the best creations by the Ajoka team and was nothing less than a masterpiece of artistic skills, drama techniques, direction and script writing. Shahid made Manto highly accessible, easy to understand and above all, snatched Manto from the clutches of so-called elite and brought him down to his rightful place.
To the people for whom he loved, lived and wrote till the day he died. It was a general consensus among the audience that the play should be introduced in the syllabus of colleges and the university on the bachelor and master’s level for the benefit of the young generation since it provides the best understanding of Manto which has never been brought to the public ever before.
The dignitaries who graced the occasion included Intizar Hussain, IA Rehman, Hussain Naqi, LS Herdenia from Bhopal, Mazhar Hussain and a large number of renowned social entities.