Moliere and Kajrare
KARACHI: Who would have thought that one day French playwright Moliere’s dramas would be peppered with Bollywood film songs, and that too of the Rani Tu Main Raja kind? It actually happened when a group of young theatre enthusiasts put up an Urdu adaptation of Moliere’s That Scoundrel Scapin written by Nahid Waheed and directed by Shakil Husain on Saturday evening at the Arts Council Karachi’s auditorium.
The unnecessary use of Indian film songs introduced as prologue, epilogue and in between scenes (for purposes that only the makers of the play are aware of) wreaked havoc on the gist of the play. It is one thing to be ambitious, it is quite another to be tasteless in order to consume time and add flavour. If the organisers of the project had not thought of injecting song and dance sequences into the format of the play, it might have been worthwhile to watch. Or if Moliere’s name had not been used, it could have worked as an indigenous creative act. Still, the efforts of the actors cannot be discounted. They worked their heart out and made slapstick look not-shoddy.
The story is about Arjumand (Hammad) who is married to Sharmila (Shahmeen) but hasn’t disclosed it to his father Asfandyar (Asif). When the curtains are drawn Asfandyar is trying to arrange his son’s marriage to his old friend Jamil’s (Raza Hasan) daughter. Jamil’s own son is in love with a girl Zeenat (Maha) who apparently doesn’t have a ‘good’ family background. He needs a large sum of money to tie the knot with Zeenat but doesn’t have a clue how to go about it. Jamil’s servant Barkat (Shakil Husain) is a clever person. He thinks of a plan to get money out of both the old men (Asfandyar and Jamil) in order to see them suffer. He uses Asfandyar’s servant Ghulam (Kamal) as a tool to implement his scheme. One thing leads to another, and it turns out that the girl that Arjumand has married was the lost daughter of Jamil. It is also discovered that Zeenat is Asfandyar’s daughter and therefore Jamil and Asfandyar accept their children’s relationships happily.
All the actors did a good job, especially Shakil Husain and Kamal. While the story was pretty digestible and the way it unfolded was not too illogical (though it unfolded a tad too quickly) the problem with the play was the songs. It came as quite a shock when on one occasion almost the entire cast began to dance to the song Kajrare from the film Bunty Aur Bubbly while the situation was building up in a reasonable manner. Naturally once Kajrare was on, who could have cared a hoot about Moliere? From then on, it was Kajrare all the way.