Theatre plays in Pakistan may not be profitable but ever since Anwar Maqsood’s Pawnay 14 August last year, they are at least more welcoming and much anticipated. Now comes Aangan Terha from the same team – KopyKats Productions – which pays a glowing tribute to Anwar Maqsood’s legendary play. Although most of the cast members were born after the play was aired on TV 30 years back, they didn’t let the audience feel they were different from the original cast, and the presence of Bushra Ansari, Shakeel, Durdana Butt, Arshad Mehmood as well as other living members of ‘the’ play proves that they approve of the reincarnation.
For those who have seen the original Aangan Terha, the Dawar-Mehmood directed play is a trip down the memory lane. For the rest, it is Anwar Maqsood’s way of telling people that the crooked courtyard we call Pakistan hasn’t changed much, and can’t change until we go for the change. The dialogues are coated with sugar and aimed at the political parties, whereas the satire makes fun of the way the things are being handled by the government. Be it the capture of Chaudhry Sahab by NAB officials, the arrival of down-on-luck sahafi and shayar, the jokes regarding export of potatoes and import of chips, or Sultana’s flair of songs that feature the word Mehboob, all take the audience on a laughter trip, even though most of the jokes were used in the original play.
It was the compelling performance of all the actors and their director Dawar Mehmood that made this play a rousing success. The most notable ones were those ofTalal Jilani as Mehboob Ahmed and Hareem Farooq as Jehan Ara who make you laugh, and cry at will. There are times when Mehboob Ahmed is irritated of his joblessness, while on the rest of the occasions, Jehan Ara is bothered of the fact that she can’t fire their servant ‘family member’ Akbar because she doesn’t have the money to pay off his humungous salary.
As for Akbar (played by the extremely talented Yasir Hussain), he loves to tease his employers because that’s the only thing he can do besides cooking and shopping for cooking. He is a trained classical dancer who walks like one too, and that irks Jehan Ara who wants him to act normal. He makes fun of all those who visit the house of Mehboob Ahmed, despite the warning that mujhe mulazimon ka mazaaq pasand nahi hai! He dances whenever he gets the chance, he eats whenever there is an opportunity, and delivers the best lines even one about his death which haunts the audience in the latter part of the play.
Akbar is the one who proposes the idea of renting a room in their house which brings an array of colourful guests to them, who either rent the room or are made to run for their lives by the troika. The trio is extended into a foursome with the addition of their next door neighbour Chaudhry sahab (the majestic Khalifa Sajeeruddin) who is a simple man but doesn’t want to be known as one. Veteran stage artist Nazar Hussain plays the role of Colonel Barkat as well as the Classical Singer with such compassion that one doesn’t even realize that he is one and the same person.
They say that all good things come for free, but they also said that the best things in life are not free. Even though the ticket is priced at Rs. 1500, it is a must-watch even if you know the dialogues of the original play by heart. Many characters from the 1983 play – including those performed by the late Mehmood Ali and Lehri sahab – are not part of this renascence, they are present with the cast in spirits. Yasir Hussain steals the show with his excellent portrayal of Akbar, and if Saleem Nasir was alive, he would have been proud of the upcoming actor. We are all proud of all the actors, and look forward to Sawa 14 August, Anwar Maqsood’s next collaboration with KopyKats Productions.