Jaza, Saza is a treat to watch
More often than not Pakistani theatre plays are adaptations of certain novels/plays; one of the most recent being Khalid Ahmed’s theatrical production, Jasoosi Duniya – Eik Comedy, which was an adaptation of The Psychic by Sam Bobrick.
Adaptations are usually tweaked a bit to cater to the local audience, however, there is a theatre play running at NAPA which is the Urdu version of William Shakespeare’s popular play Measure for Measure. This play is believed to have been written in 1603 or 1604 and is one of Shakespeare’s ‘Problem Plays’, as it sits uneasily between tragedy and comedy.
Translated by Khalid Ahmed and helmed by Zia Mohyeddin, Jaza, Saza, which is a subtle and passionate exploration of sexual morality, will run till December 10, at Zia Mohyeddin Theatre, NAPA, Karachi.
Coming to the story, Jaza, Saza introduces us to the Duke of Vienna, essayed by Meesam Naqvi, who is conversing with Lord Angelo (Fawad Khan) and Escalus (Amir Naqvi) and reveals to them that he will soon leave the city. Angelo is left in charge by the Duke, who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the affairs of the state in his absence.
Meanwhile, a man named Claudio (Saad Zameer) is arrested and sentenced to death for impregnating Julietta (Afra Khalid). Being a staunch moralist, Angelo wants to wipe out all immoral activities and also shut down all the brothels in the city, putting all those associated with them behind bars.
When Claudio’s sister, Isabella (Kaif Ghaznavi), an aspiring nun, gets to know about her brother’s death sentence through Lucio (Nazar ul Hasan), she goes to Angelo to seek forgiveness for her sibling. Initially, Angelo seems stern about the decision, but he soon finds himself sexually attracted to Isabella. He tells her that he can forgive her brother if she agrees to sleep with him. Isabella outrightly rejects the offer and goes to see her brother. It is there that the Duke hears Isabella talking to Claudio about Angelo’s sinful plan. But the Duke works out a scheme to unmask Angelo’s real face in front of everyone.
Almost every character adds depth to the story and the actors, especially Meesam Naqvi, Fawad Khan and Kaif Ghaznavi, have done an admirable job. Naqvi and Ghaznavi were effortless while showcasing a range of emotions throughout the play.
Actor Nazar ul Hasan was simply remarkable and stole the show with his spontaneity, delivery and terrific comic timing. Moreover, Samhan Ghazi who essays the character of Darogha is quite impressive.
The fact is that to successfully pull off any play by Shakespeare on stage is a feat and it becomes more difficult when it has been translated into another language. But Zia Moheyddin has directed the play with ease and expertise, which is quite evident throughout the performance.
It wasn’t the first time that the Urdu version of Measure for Measure was performed on stage. In fact, earlier this year the play was staged at NAPA as part of the international theatre and music festival and the actors were the academy’s third-year students. However, this time around experienced theatre actors took centre stage and their performances were commendable to say the least.
Jaza Saza, in which empathy and morality come face to face with each other, while highlighting the most important issues of use and abuse of power, and social injustice, is definitely an interesting watch, especially for ardent Shakespeare fans.