Monday September 26, 2022

Saadhay 14 August completes Anwar Maqsood’s theatrical trilogy about Partition

By Our Correspondent
August 17, 2022

The Arts Council of Pakistan held a media night for the final part of playwright Anwar Maqsood’s theatrical trilogy, Saadhay 14 August, on Tuesday evening. The play has been performed under the production of KopyKats Productions and directed by Dawar Mehmood.

The trilogy began over 10 years ago, featuring the country’s most prominent luminaries. The series starts as Pawnay 14 August, then Sawa 14 August and finally Saadhay 14 August. To celebrate the final part of the play, a star-studded showcasing of the masterpiece was held on Tuesday.

Speaking to The News, Maqsood said the play is about whether the partition of India was a right thing. “Who broke India? Gandhi or Quaid?” he said. What does the play have for audiences? He responded that it would leave the audiences thinking if the partition was better for the Muslims or not. “What would have happened had they lived in India?”

The main characters of the play are Gandhi and Jinnah, and they these days during the play are in Kashmir, Lahore, Delhi and London, Maqsood said, adding that it has been 75 years since both the nations gained independence but they are still waiting for August 14.

When asked if he plans to write a play with the name of ‘August 14’, he said he wrote Pawnay 14 August, then Sawa 14 August and finally Saadhay 14 August, and if there ever came 14 August truly, he would write one.

The theatre’s director said that their theatre is back after three years after the Covid-19. In 2011 it was Pawnay 14 August, then in 2012 Sawa 14 August, and after 10 years they have Saadhay 14 August, and this is the end of the trilogy.

President Arts Council Ahmed Shah said that they kicked off theatre by arranging finances and making the auditorium. After Moeen Akhter’s death, he said, Maqsood stopped writing plays, and when he requested and Mehmood went after him for writing plays again, and once Maqsood started writing, the scenario of plays changed overnight in Pakistan. He announced that they had requested the government to hand over Faizi Rahimeen Art Gallery lying abandoned between the Supreme Court and the Arts Council building, and they would change it into a huge auditorium of a capacity of 1,800 seats for theatres.

The red carpet had members of media fraternity and celebrities eager to watch the play. Several notable names such as Behroz Sabzwari, Sonya Hussyn, Sajid Hasan, Sarwat Gilani and her husband Fahad Mirza, Adnan Siddiqui, Abdullah Seja, Gohar Rasheed and others.

The storyline of the live-action performance revolves around two characters -- Jinnah and Gandhi -- who get people’s views on the great divide between Pakistan and India. Jinnah and Gandhi visited four places -- Kashmir, Lahore, Delhi and London -- to gather the people’s reaction and give a case against the allegations of whether the division was a good decision or not. In the past, Jinnah and Gandhi never wanted a division but simply desired freedom from the British.

One of the spectators, Muhammad Hunain, said that colorfully put together and artistically played out, with the right skillet that has gone into the production, huge cast and set design, “Saadhay 14 August I can safely say was one-of-a-kind once-in-a-blue-moon kind of performance”. The play, he said, reached the bar he had rightly set for the legendary playwright Anwar Maqsood Sb. “Not disappointed.”

To Shabbir, Saadhay 14 August is a reminder how theatre remains a unique form of performing arts despite having a niche audience. “The theatrics in the play stole the show while the craft and performances displayed by the actors were phenomenal, particularly Tanveer Gill, who played the part of Gandhi,” she said. “The transition sequences featuring various locations were particularly heartwarming, keeping audiences on the edge of their seats.”

Jang and Geo are the media partners of the play. The play will soon be presented in theatres nationwide from August to October starting with its first opening act at the Arts Council of Pakistan. Later, the show will feature in Lahore and Islamabad and then globally. Tickets are also available online at KopyKats Productions Facebook and Instagram pages.