Sifar ki Taraf to run at Napa till 27th -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Sifar ki Taraf to run at Napa till 27th

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: There is no particular cohesive narrative to Sifar ki Taraf, a play held at the National Academy of Performing Arts on Friday. A conflicting mesh of what it is like to be human, the play, despite lacking a storyline, manages to keep the viewer interested with an array of arresting performances.

Directed by Anjum Ayaz, Sifar ki Taraf is set in a poor neighbourhood in the 1950s-60s. A peculiar feature of the play is its ability to shift focus right when the viewer starts getting comfortable with the narrative; it never settles on any one particular character. At certain times that is a frustrating element; however, the play’s ability to not remain constant is what also keeps the audience interested as there is no particular story to offer.

The characters are all embroiled in their personal day-to-day battles and even when they witness the other’s battle, they are apathetic.

On one end is a blossoming love story that is considered a testament to the decaying times and also the cause of earthquakes in the neighbourhood, while on the other we witness the manic ramblings by two persons (Vajdaan Shah and Shabana Hasan).

Shah is a troubled soul, who enjoys rare moments of clarity amid a more consistent erratic existence. Leaving behind an extravagant life, he decides to live in this poor neighbourhood, where inhabitants must bear his rants that don’t make much sense primarily because they are infused with a heady combination of philosophy, Van Gogh’s art and Freud’s controversial research. He is condescending towards the others living in the neighbourhood. A regular feature at Napa productions, Shah’s interpretation of the psychotic Vajdaan can be counted among his stronger performances.

Nazrul plays the role of Shamo, the patriarch of his home and by default the neighbourhood, and he also holds his own and remains a strong presence. Meesam Naqvi, playing the role of the poet in love called Bedil, is however, under-utilised for most of the play.

However, it is Shabana Hasan who remains the most memorable of the characters of Sifar ki Taraf.

Hasan for a majority of the duration of the play can be seen in one corner, ragged clothes and all, homeless for the world except for her own self. That street corner is her home and her palace, her safety net and her worst nightmare. Regardless of the happenings on stage, one keeps returning to her embodiment of Sakina, a battered housewife, left by her husband, who has accepted her gradual descent into madness. Be it in her dialogue delivery, while clutching a baby doll in her arms, or aggressively reacting to an imaginary presence, Hasan is exceptional.

Sifar ki Taraf lacks pretence, as well as the capacity to be didactic. With the setting of the play in a mohalla that is plagued by several civic issues, including lack of potable water, the director does not dwell on the pitiable condition of the play’s characters and neither do the characters themselves. It’s expected, and with their weak protestations, they quickly move on and forget. And the viewer seems to do the same for the play.

Sifar ki Taraf will be staged at Napa till Aug 27.