There is always something going on within the entertainment sector in Pakistan and this is about atheatre production by Stage Nomad – AlifNoon – that recently came under scrutiny due to its name. Its name was changed to Doodh Ka Jala after producers of Alif Noon(film) served a legal notice to PTV earlier this month.Nonetheless, the play premiered on Saturday, February 15, and is presently running at the Karachi Arts Council till Sunday, February 23.
Actors who played the most-loved, odd-couple of Allan-Nannha,who appeared on TV between 1965 and 1982, may not be alive but their characters are, and through this play, they will surely get the attention they deserve.
The play is an astounding success mainly because of writer/director Talal Jilani and lead actors Mojiz Hasan and MuneebBaig. Muneeb plays the scheming Allan to perfection but it isMojiz’s performance as the innocent-looking Nannha (originally played by Rafi KhawarNannha) that was the highlight of the play. Thanks to a wig created by Kamal Uddin Ahmed, the original Alif Noon makeup artist; Mojiz resembled Nannha both in appearance and mannerisms. His chemistry with NAPA-trained Muneeb kept the audience engrossed in the 80-minute play. Muneeb remains onstage throughout the play’s duration and manages to convince the audience that his corrupt actions are not corrupt, but correct. There are other characters including a corrupt politician, Fareeha Raza as his secretary Roma, Yogeshwar Karera as the scientist, Moiz Khan as Jalsa Khan and Alina Zuberi as KomalKhanzadi– they come and go after disrupting what seems to be a fool-proof plan. Moiz Khan’s slapstick comedy, Fareeha Raza’s caring secretary act, Yogeshwar Karera’s tall claims as a scientist and Alina Zuberi’s performance as a hard-hitting journalist were appreciated by the audience who laughed out loud during the play’s run. There were emotional moments as well that touched audience’s heart, and the cast must be credited given that it’s a comedy play.
Writer-Director Talal Jilani believes that his play will not just pay tribute to the ‘Odd Couple’ of Pakistani television but will also make young audience search for Alif Noon on YouTube. “We have tried to keep the play as simple as possible so that it not only reincarnates the characters but also tells the audience what made them iconic in the first place,” shared Talal, on the sidelines of the media night.
Doodh Ka Jalawill be performed in Lahore from March 22 till 28 after which it will head to Islamabad on March 29 where it will be performed till April 5. It is expected to return to Karachi April 10 onwards for a second run.
OmairAlavi is a freelance broadcast journalist who can be contacted at [email protected]