NAPA’s latest theatre production, Khel Khel Mein brings forward the issue of gender discrimination. Instep takes a look.
Touching upon the issue of gender inequality that is prevalent in Pakistani society is no small feat. But that’s exactly what NAPA’s latest theatre production, Khel Khel Mein tackles: A gnawing issue that plagues societies around the world and is often shoved under the carpet (right here at home).
Khel Khel Mein attempts to highlight the difficulties women face in a male-dominant society, a society that holds women responsible for everything that can (and does) go wrong. ..
While the play runs from Feb 3 to Feb 7, it isn’t its first outing. Khel Khel Mein was also the opening play at the NAPA Young Directors Theatre Festival 2015 and resonated well with the audience. As it emerges again for a brief run, there are plenty on offer to warrant a visit.
Based on the script of Khalid Ahmed’s play Agle Janam Mohe Bitya Na Kijo, Khel Khel Mein is directed by Akbar Islam. The ‘play within a play’ features several actors during rehearsals, who disagree with their director’s script, call it out because of clichés and come up with their own scripts instead. What follows is an overflow of humor and emotions as Samina (played by Mizna Waqas) takes centre stage with her tragic story.
The story is set against the backdrop of a small locality and is based on a girl who faces discrimination her whole life and is forbidden to do many things (unlike her brother) because she is a girl.
The title of the play – Khel Khel Mein - sums up the story rather neatly. It conveys the essence of the play: A serious subject presented in a fashion that is light, funny and palatable. On his part, director Akbar Islam made a deliberate choice. Speaking to Instep, he explained, “I had to incorporate the fun element while dealing with such a serious issue otherwise nobody would have watched it.”
Islam, who holds a diploma in acting from NAPA, has been associated with theatre for several years. In his plays, he focuses on stories that refrain from elitism and project the life of average, ordinary people.
Khel Khel Mein also works because of the acting on display. Each and every actor did justice to their roles. Hamza Sheikh, who played the role of Iqbal, depicts a typical brother. Other characters including Aqeel Ahmed, Jameel Ahmed, Balaj Khan, Faraz Sheikh, Ayesha Iqbal, Najma Kifayat and Sehrish Qadir left the audience – particularly males – in fits of laughter with their silly actions.
With an eclectic cast and healthy quotient of humour, Khel Khel Mein successfully delivers a subtle yet impactful message in a playful manner. The play addresses issues like perception of women in society and how the latter needs to broaden its perception so as to allow women space in public.
“The message in the play is very strong,” Islam asserted in a small conversation with Instep post-script. “Both my characters – Iqbal and Samina – are symbolic and can be found anywhere no matter what era. Every son is Iqbal and every daughter is Samina, and we have to end this discrimination between the two,” he concluded.