An entertaining lesson in history: Begum Jaan revisits Karachi amid louder applause
KARACHI: Even though parts of the city were shut down on Wednesday, the premiere night of the play ‘Begum Jaan’ turned out to be a big draw for Karachi’ites whose love for theatre brought them to the in-house theatre of the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa).
The audience was in for a treat as the cast – Nimra Bucha as Begum Jaan, Naila Jaffri as her granddaughter Zareena and Paras Masroor as the persistent journalist and tenant, Sanjay Panday – did justice to their roles. Being staged for the second time, the play has all the right ingredients to offer the audience their money’s worth.
Indian playwright Javed Siddiqui’s Begum Jaan, which has been directed by Anjum Ayaz, will run at Napa till September 22 so that the audience can revisit the long-forgotten traditions of Lucknow and relive the times of the Nawabs.
Among the crowd at Napa was Marizeh Shah, an instructor for the English language at the Pak-American
Cultural Centre, who said that her love for literature had not faded a bit. When asked which playwright’s work she was most fond of, Shah was quick to name William Shakespeare. “I have always enjoyed plays, especially Shakespeare’s! But in Urdu literature, the work of Haseena Moeen, Amjad Islam Amjad and even Munshi Premchand have been my favourite,” she said while talking to The Express Tribune, adding that she didn’t get to see the play the first time it was held which is why she made it a point not to miss the second run. “The Lucknavi Urdu and culture is what drew me to this play, you hardly get to see such traditions in the society as they have become redundant,” she said. “For me, the old-school narrative was very enjoyable as everything today has sadly become Minglish.”
Asher Jawad, a business analyst by profession, stood out in the crowd as he donned the attire of a Nawab. “I often come to Napa to see their plays but hadn’t seen Begum Jaan the first it was staged,” said Jawad. “I am most excited about watching Naila Jaffri as she is remarkable on stage. Also, I am interested in seeing the directorial work of Anjum Ayaz.”
He added that plays at Napa appealed to him as they were thought-provoking with serious acting. “It is not commercial theatre.”
Writer Mohammad Hanif, husband of Nimra Bucha who played the title role, appreciated his wife’s fine acting skills. Calling it “a political play”, Hanif said that he watched Begum Jaan the first time it was staged with the renowned writer of satire and humour, Mushtaq Ahmad Yusufi. “I had never seen Yusufi as excited and happy as he was then. One of the reasons I have come to watch the second-run of the play is to view Anjum Ayaz’s work – he’s a brilliant director,” Hanif said.
Speaking about re-staging Begum Jaan, Napa Repertory Theatre (NRT) Director Zain Ahmad said, “We received a fairly good response in the first run and there were many demands for it to be re-staged. So here we are,” he said. “We are definitely starting the process of re-staging plays with Begum Jaan.”
The tickets for the play, which is being organised by NRT in collaboration with the Express Media Group, are priced at Rs600.