- It takes you down the memory lane:
Sawa 14 August is like no other stage play produced in Pakistan. It is by far the most accomplished one for it has a right mix of everything in it – from elements of comedy to moments you’d want to stop and ponder. It takes you down the memory lane and pictures the life during Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his predecessor General Zia-ul-Haq’s regime. What’s common in both was that the two considered themselves to be rulers who had the right vision but both miserably failed at delivering it. It gives one a kaleidoscopic vision of things gone wrong and miscalculated moves that ran Pakistan into a great deal of trouble.
2. Anwar Maqsood’s verbal Wizardry:
He is a magician when it comes to words for the subtle and ingenious effects no other writer could possibly accomplish. The wit, the humor and the speech Quaid-e-Azam delivers on stage, all show the writer’s love for his country and how he eagerly wants to indulge us in the same, with dialogues that tell you ‘more-than-what-meets-the-eye’!
3. The Support cast doesn’t just Support, it builds the Base:
Bilal Yousuf Zai played a small-time journalist in Aangan Terha but don’t simply judge him on that. He has definitely grown in stature in the first few minutes of the play as the coolie who works at the railway station only because ‘mera baap bhi Bhutto kay zamanay main coolie tha’. His interaction with other characters; the old man, the politicians or the Pathan poet is truly amazing and deserves applause for the new refinements he has achieved in the craft.
The star Bengali of Pawnay 14 August – Mojiz Hasan – though has little screen time as the ‘Guard Father’ but he doesn’t disappoint and neither does the rest of the support cast including the sweeper (who has perhaps the most sentimental lines), the kid who returns to meet the Quaid-e-Azam and the many stock characters who run around in search of the right train for their destination.
4. A Cluster of Beautiful Women led by the Shining Star!
‘Aap hamari shaklein kyon nahi dekhte’ is what one of the ladies asks General Zia when he questions them on not wearing a dupatta. Unlike Pawnay 14 August and Aangan Terha, this KopyKats Production has more female cast than both plays combined. Upcoming actresses Shanzeh Razzak and Maha Minhaj lead the group that portrays the confident Insaafians (Imran Khan fans) and do a commendable job as well. But it’s the star of Aangan Terha – Hareem Farooq – who comes, sees and leaves as a conqueror by portraying a mohtarma who lives in abad (Islam sleeps after Maghrib in the capital, she says!) and controls all the destinies in the country.
5. Veterans get a chance to Prove their mettle once again:
Oh Bus Mamay … That’s the best way to describe a PML-N leader played by Talal Jilani who entirely changes his age, his style and his appearance for the role. After playing Iqbal in Pawnay 14 August and the aged Mehboob Ahmed in Aangan Terha, Talal Jilani is now a Punjab da sher who growls first, and thinks later.
Veteran Nazar Hussain also shines as the MQM party member who is elated that the new President of Pakistan is born in Agra, that ‘Punjabi’ is the official language of Pakistan, and that his party needs no support, not even income support – before he is cut short by a telephone call from abroad!
6. The Impeccable Jinnah played equally Impeccably:
Zahid Ahmed plays Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah this time around and is easily the most likeable of all actors. Naturally, he portrays the great and infallible man, an every Pakistan’s ideal, just as one would have expected. Impeccably dressed in all white, righteous in his sayings and fair in person, instead of a saint he’s usually presented.
He plays cards with the coolie, stands up when the sweeper tells him that a person from the minority group isn’t allowed to sit on the bench (and the crowd clapped thunderously) and he is angry when Bhutto tells him that mashriqi Pakistan asal Pakistan nahi tha! Quaid didn’t like army meddling in politics and that’s why he doesn’t say much to General Zia, and I am certain that the great man would have approved Zahid’s portrayal as well, just like the audience did.
7. The breaking out of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto:
Wassam Waheed does a great job as Zulfiqar Bhutto, not because of his striking resemblance to the former Prime Minister but also because of the way he carries himself. ‘Is Roshni Se Woh Andhera Behtar Hai’ is how he puts his first meeting with General Zia and goes backstage, displaying hatred against his own-appointed sipah salaar. The speech and his fight-sequence (all dialogues) with General Zia are the highlights of the play, and one must watch it to feel the real-life tension at its best.
8. General Zia is at his Mischievous Best:
This may be Gohar Rasheed’s first play for KopyKats but his portrayal of the dictator is nothing short of perfect. ‘Na, Mere Mamoon Nahi Thay, Un Kay Naam Main Ul Haq Nahi Aata Tha’ is how he describes Chadhury Fazle Haq, the man who presented Pakistan Resolution. He is the one person the audience loves to hate because he distracts the new generation by swinging them in the wrong direction; makes his entry at the wrong occasions and has no sense of humor at all – just like the General who died on the plane on 17th August 1988!
9. The Genius amongst mortals makes three returns!:
And then there was Yasir Hussain who you can’t keep away from things. He was the Sindhi who kept us all laughing in Pawnay 14 August so it was expected that he would reprise the role in the sequel. But after the success of Akbar in Aangan Terha, Yasir Hussain came back strongly and donned as many as 3 roles – an old man who ditches the coolie, a Pushto poet and finally a Sindhi politician who loses election but still has the power due to being part of PPP.
Not only does the actor excels in all three roles, he has the best lines of all. He continually gets into fights with the other characters essentially because he doesn’t know what he is talking about and this is what makes him even more loveable. ‘Sayeen kis ko banaya’ is what he asks Bhutto when the leader tells him that it was he who initiated the atomic power plant.
‘Fakhru bhai jawab nahi denge, tumhare paas unka number ghalat hai’, he remarks it when PTI lady demands an answer from the former Chief Election Commissioner (and saves her number in his phone). And when General Zia inquires where he is going, he replies ‘Paris’ despite standing in front of a Khyber Mail and donning a Pathan avatar! Hilarious.
10. The haunting Background score, the Superb Effects
The background score by Abbas Ali Khan (grandson of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan Liaquat Ali Khan) is a treat for the years since it seems more Hollywood-like and unlike any from this part of the world. It is one thing that keeps you calm while you are waiting for the curtains to go up. The director Dawar Mehmood must be commended for his sense of sound that helped in creating such a great theme. The sound effects and lighting are also worth mentioning since they keep you engrossed in the narrative, and when the Quaid-e-Azam delivers his final lecture, it is the effects that add the punch. Similarly, when Bhutto gives his speech, the lighting is what ‘glorifies’ the proceedings and even the staunchest of his enemies would love him in those surroundings.
Way to go KopyKats Team!