Karachi’s theatre buffs were in for a mighty treat on Wednesday evening with the staging of playwright Anwar Maqsood’s ‘Naach Na Jaaney’, a “prequel” to the play staged earlier, “Aangan Tehra”.
The play, staged at the Arts Council, was a satire on the political environment of the country that almost all generations have seen since 1947, having remained more or less constant.
It is actually a satire on the ouster of the Bhutto government in 1977 and its replacement by Ziaul Haq’s puritanical rule with its aversion to aesthetic and artistic pursuits. However, the satire, sharp as it may have been, was absolutely innocuous.
It was 90 minutes of hearty laughter, especially the witty retorts and humour-filled banter of the effeminate servant boy, Akbar, most astutely played by Yasser Hussain.
At a certain juncture after the ouster of Bhutto, Yasser, during a job-hunting stint, meets national cricket team captain Imran Khan and the interview that follows is a laughter-filled affair, reflecting Ziaul Haq’s dislike of artistic expression. It really had the chuckling audiences riveted to their seats.
Besides Yasser, all the cast members performed their roles really astutely. Here what should not go unmentioned is the really funny role played by Hina Rizvi, as Sultana, the younger sister of the Chaudhry (Asad Gujjar). Her gestures in the presentation of a song are really comical, one that would make one laugh his sighs out. It was funny, indeed.
Then there’s a scene where she hops while delivering a dialogue, generating unmitigated laughter through the packed auditorium. She certainly is imbued with tons and tons of talent.
At a certain juncture, while Yasser is on the lookout for a job, he has an interview with a bank manager who insists that that the former cannot get a job because he is a dancer. The humorous conversation and the witticisms of that interview was the best thing playwright Anwar Maqsood could give the audience.
Sara Bhatti as the elegant Jehan Ara added great poise to the role. However, all said and done, it was Yasser Hussain as Akbar who really stole the show and dwarfed all the other cast members.
Theatre enthusiasts in town certainly owe lots to humorist Anwar Maqsood for having given them a play in the form of such sharp, yet innocuous satire, in a city that otherwise just reverberates with news of killing and hold-ups. He really gave citizens a reason to laugh, and laugh heartily.