A play which is a blessing to watch

Image Source: Swatantra Theatre

Image Source: Swatantra Theatre

Jawaharlal Nehru Hall, at Ghole Road experienced a wind from Lahore blow ; in a heart-rending account of tale in countless homes across the borders which lives through memory, love and affection.

The curtains roll sideways and you are shown into a home in Lahore, where a family from Punjab is moving in. The texture and light of the play is perfectly Lahore and the audience was certainly sensing the smell of the soil of the place.

The actors made good use of the dialogues and dialects to create this setting and when Sikander Mirza speaks aloud, you are all attention.

The play touches you and the voice has that suppressed hurt, anger, anguish which is clothed in etiquette and civil life. The partition has affected countless homes which could not be made even now. The best remedy could be to understand the humanity and mutual respect for various faiths.

The subtext of the play revolves around the family and a house becomes so symbolic; the kid (तन्नो), the mom (हमीदा बेगम)everyone has expectations from the new house. So much more here as they have closed down all their business-activities in Punjab, India.

The family who has left India for a better life with their own community in Pakistan is initially taken aback by the Hindu woman (रतन की अम्मा), who could be affecting their home. But, home has no religion; a strong message that the play may send out. Human beings of all faith can live happily in one house.

The whole cast was ebbing with emotions and the play was certainly a blessing to watch. In the opening scenes when Begum, Jawed and तन्नो),  discuss the size of the house and the number of rooms; touches you and getting down to do Namaaz. Sikander Mirza, Hamida Begum, Tanno, Jawed all justify their roles impressively.

The accent/dialect of the artists is riveting and it plays a huge role in bringing the Lahore flavor from the rich-language (Hindi-Punjabi-Urdu.)

The set has a platform, staircase, window, tea stall; created quite a congenial setting.  The execution of the plot was linear and the portions of stage are used for particular action; was put to good use.

In a scene रतन की अम्मा is helping तन्नो),  how to sew, is one of the tenderest emotions which the play captures. Surely, some in the audience had their eyes wet.

The broken, crackling voice of रतन की अम्मा made the character come alive.You do not miss out on the accent of all the artists, good job!

The role of the grand mom also could throw significance on many elderly women and men who are caught in the confused tides of the partition: the heart and the mind is here, and faith somewhere else. Home is where your heart is, where you have seen your children play, where you have gone shopping in the market, where you have got gulab jamuns and lassi from the marketplace; they become your home.

How can physical divide , stop culture and love from overflowing.  Some prominent schools of music have flourished here, which inspire music across the borders: Gwalior Gharana, Kirana Gharana, Patila Gharana, Punjab Gharana and Sham Chaurasia Gharana.

Pehelwan played by Ritesh Anand had the disturbing-religious-inciting-character feeling and justified his role well.  His evil temperament and designs stood out in the play. Alim played by Prem Gowda, had the usual finesse of the care-free character but street smart; like he played in “Aladdin in Mumbai.”

Naseer played by Kamaran, reciting poetry and ghazal  is sheer delight to listen to.

“बिछड़ गए थे जो तूफ़ान की रात में ‘नासिर’,

सुना है उनमें से कुछ आ मिले किनारे पर !”

 

“ दरअसल एक-एक पत्ता मेरे लिए शहर है , फूल भी शहर है और सबसे बड़ा शहर है दिल! उससे बड़ा कोई शहर क्या होगा…बाकी जो बाहर शहर है, सब उसकी गलिया है…”

Maulaana, played by Vijay wins your  heart. The award winning play by Swatantra Theatre is a must watch!

The play was first performed under the direction of Habib Tanvir in 1989 and taken to Karachi, Lahore, Sydney, New York and Dubai. Dinesh Thakur has also directed a  version of it. It was performed by Shri Ram Centre Repertory on September 27, 1990, Goethe Centre, Karachi and staged at Bharat Rang Mahotsav-2009.