Classic play ‘Kala Mainda Bhes’ graces theatres in Lahore
LAHORE : Classic play Kala Mainda Bhes that was staged in Lahore five years ago is being performed once again at the Ajoka theatre from September 18th to 20th. Themed around inadequate access to fresh drinking water in the Thar dessert and other regions of Sindh and Punjab, the play delves into basic survival struggles faced by inhabitants of rural Pakistan. Employing the ancient theatrical genre called swang, which entails story-telling by a third person’s point of view, the musical was a super hit when it was first performed. This rendition incorporates the same style but laced with a contemporary narrative twist.
Kala Mainda Bhes was penned by Shahid Nadeem and directed by Madeeha Gauhar. Set in the Thar Desert, the theatrical masterpiece tells the story of the struggle for survival and basic human rights in the face of a tyrant feudal who enjoys monopoly over water resources of the region, and by extension, the destiny of its inhabitants. The theme is inspired by a factual incident that took place in a village in Sindh where a woman was exchanged for an ox due to poverty and starvation.
Madeeha Gauhar, the director of Ajoka Theatre, who also helmed the play, spoke to The Express Tribune about the storyline and the inspiration behind it. “Kala Mainda Bhes was written fifteen years ago to highlight the difficulties of people in Sindh and southern Punjab, specially the women, and the crowd loved it,” explained Madeeha.
“The play is not just a tale of woe and misery but is also a tribute to the resilience and determination of the common people. Presented in the colourful and entertaining style of swang, it celebrates the rich and dynamic culture of South Punjab with dazzling costumes and delightful songs,” she added.
“However it is a tragedy that inadequate access to water still plagues the region and inhabitants are still suffering,” Madeeha remarked desolately.
Shahid also delved on the storyline and the role of theatre in highlighting social issues. “Since its inception, Ajoka has been trying to evolve theatre by experimenting with a fusion between traditional and the modern,” stated the writer.
“We always tried to emphasise social evils of the society through stories. This play was performed many years ago at various cities and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it – especially for its thoughtful message that every human being has equal rights to natural resources regardless of creed and class and that no one should grab and encroach on these basic rights,” he concluded.