Over the past few years, theatre in Pakistan has revived. With the Kopykat Productions, MadeforStage Productions and Sania Saeed stepping into revival of theatre presenting plays like Avanti, Chicago, Paunay 14 August Sequels and the likes, theatre has regained its lost value and the young generation has developed a keen interest not only towards watching theatre but towards doing it. A lot of theatre groups have sprouted up in universities and the National Academy of Performing Arts has considerably played a role in making theatre accessible to all.
While theatre competitions and workshops for acting and theatrics skills have been happening all over the metropolitan city, Universities in Karachi, Greenwich, Karachi University & PAF KIET to name a few, have been an eminent contribution towards the theatrics scenario. In addition to NAPA, theatre at campuses has been a healthy addition to promote arts and culture along with enhancement of public speaking skills, on stage activities and an over all, classic and literate entertainment that seemed to be gone in the blues until a few years ago.
A Sequel to the revival of theatre was performed in another historic calendar happening of campus, where Hammad Siddiq from National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) presented his play, ‘Khushi’ at Professor Saleem uz Zaman Khan Auditorium, HEJ, University of Karachi. Set in the background of the late sixties, Khushi revolves around the family of insurance company officer Khalil. While his elder brother, living in South Africa apparently owns a gold mine, Khalil with his measly salary barely makes both ends meet and is a bickering husband who spends most of his weekend sleeping or creating tantrums in the house. The play opened with Khalil snoring on the bed when his not-so-beautiful wife woke him up beginning the show that continues throughout the play where Khalil annoyed with anything and everything that happens, bickers around the house every now and then remembering the rich and successful Ahmad bhai abroad. In a tragic happening of the play, Ahmad bhai returns home empty handed having lost all his money in gambling.
Despite the serious theme of the play, the 45 minute theatre was packed with witty dialogues keeping the audience bursting into laughter every now and then. While the four characters of the play all did amazingly well with acting, maintaining the aura of their roles, the limelight was stolen by director and lead character, Hammad Siddiq, playing the annoyed and bickering Khalil whose sudden outbursts and locally relatable dialogues kept the audiences involved in the play. Even though the 45 minute play seemed a little dragged at a few points but the mere presence of Hammad Siddiq on the stage, his indulging body language, the aura of humour and wit around every word that came out of him, kept the audiences entertained. The theatre was received extremely well by the crowd that surpassed 400 and was given standing ovation towards the end. Hammad shared his delight with us promising even better theatre plays in the future. “We want theatre to be affordable for people of all classes and more primarily to students who cannot afford to buy passes worth 1500 or 2000. Khwab is a platform not just to make theatre affordable but accessible to all” said Hammad Siddiq. In addition to the appreciation Khushi gathered from the crowd, professionals from NAPA, including Ali Sheikh and Paras Masroor commended the acting and direction of the theatre. Also present at the theatre conference was Saddam Tufail Hashmi, member of Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and a coveted anchorperson on Aaj Tv who shared his delight and appreciation for the theatre.