Instep Today

Haseena Moin’s Ankahi gets a theatre adaptation

By Buraq Shabbir
Sat, 02, 20

Directed by Dawar Mehmood under Kopykats Productions, the play is adapted by Sajid Hasan and Saqib Sumeer with Amna Ilyas playing the protagonist, Sana. It is scheduled to premiere in Karachi on March 15, 2020

Iconic playwright Haseena Moin is a living legend who headlined the golden days of television in Pakistan, with some of the most progressive scripts she has written till date. She created characters for the small screen, particularly female protagonists that are an inspiration even today. One of her dramas that stood out because of its witty dialogues and a strong protagonist at the heart of the story was Ankahi, launched originally in the early 1980s.

Hence, one is overjoyed to know that a theatre adaptation of the play is in the works; Dawar Mehmood is directing Ankahi for the stage, adapted by Sajid Hasan and Saqib Sumeer with Haseena Moin’s complete support and permission.

A press conference to officially announce the upcoming production was held at the Karachi Arts Council earlier this week with all the key stakeholders in attendance. This included Haseena Moin, director Dawar Mehmood, writers Sajid Hasan and Saqib Sumeer and Muhammad Ahmed Shah, President Arts Council, who came up with the idea to develop Ankahi into a stage play. They addressed the press conference in which they also revealed the cast that was in attendance, in addition to media personnel.

Starring model turned actor Amna Ilyas as protagonist Sana, essayed by Shehnaz Sheikh in the original production, Ankahi will open in Karachi on March 15, 2020, and will be performed until Ramazan before heading to Islamabad and Lahore.

“Haseena Moin started writing in the seventies and presented some of the strongest female protagonists in her plays,” Ahmed Shah began to speak to the press, adding that Moin sent out messages of women empowerment in a rather subtle manner.

It was decided to adapt one of Haseena Moin’s masterpieces for theatre, with her permission. Ankahi was chosen because it had the potential for more theatrical situations than other plays written by the playwright.

“Ankahi will be my first play for stage and I hope it turns out well,” Haseena Moin shared, adding that the play has been very close to her heart and she never gave it to anyone including neighbouring India. “I couldn’t refuse to Dawar and Ahmed and I am sure they will do justice to it. As far as Sana (protagonist) is concerned, she should be amazing or else, Ankahi fans will be disappointed.”

Adding his bit, Dawar informed that the upcoming production is not set in 1982; it is based in 2020 with Haseena Moin’s consent. “Ankahi is a universal story not associated with any particular time period so we decided to modify it according to present times,” he explained, adding that the drama was based on 32 episodes and the writers had to squeeze the material for theatre. Without the creative genius of Sajid Hasan, admitted Dawar, he would not have been able to put it together for stage.

In turn, Sajid Hasan stated, “It would be more of a tribute to the legends who were associated with the original play; making comparisons would be audacious,” he stressed. “The issues surrounding the protagonist in Ankahi, written by Haseena apa, are pertinent today and this is what makes her relevant even in 2020.”

In the upcoming stage version, Wahab Shah will handle choreography since it is a musical as well, live score will be given by Abbas Ali Khan while Hunny Haroon is serving as the art director. Moving on to the cast, the character of chairman essayed by Qazi Wajid will be played by Sohail Hashmi whereas theatre actor Waqar Ali will essay Faraz that was played by Jawed Sheikh. Other actors in the upcoming production include Taha Humayun, Ali Sheikh and Shafqat Khan, in addition to Amna Ilyas, who will be seen in lead role of Sana.

“I’m honoured; I never thought I would work in a play penned by Haseena Moin. I didn’t see myself on that level,” Amna shared her gratitude as she joined the playwright onstage. “This is very exciting for me and I am very scared. I would try not to compete with Sana of the original play but rather add my bit to it and make Haseena ji proud.”

“There is a lot of pressure on me and this is another milestone in my career after being a model and acting on TV and in films. It is like the first day of school for me. One thing I have realized; there is no action, there is no cut, there is no re-take when you are onstage. I hope you like what I do,” she concluded, optimistically.