Theatre Wallay brings Zard Paton Ka Ban to Karachi

A not-for-profit performing arts group, Theatre Wallay from Islamabad, recently set foot in Karachi to perform its much-anticipated theatre play Zard Paton Ka Ban at the Pakistan American Cultural Centre (PACC) for two consecutive days. The play, comprised of eight cast members, brilliantly portrayed the emotions of a common Pakistani with some quirky and some sombre anecdotes of their life in present times.

Unlike several other theatre plays we get to see in Karachi, Zard Paton Ka Ban was rather different. One was anticipating a conventional way of storytelling, but the play had much more to offer. It opened with an amazingly soulful musical performance by sitar player Wajih Nizami with a blend of Irfan Masih’s amazing tabla-playing skills. With their chief aim to highlight the struggles in acquiring a place to disseminate their art in the federal capital, Theatre Wallay did a little more than that. The play, even though largely focused on the daily struggles of those residing in the federal capital, was performed in Karachi and yet well received, for the scribe was witness to the huge round of applause echoing inside the auditorium. Every dialogue was spoken as eloquently as it could have been; though a little Punjabi here and there did not hurt, the Urdu was pretty impressive too, as the Islooiites did a great job at it. The play received a standing ovation and the performance needed nothing less than that. With actors like Ammar Khalid, Fizza Hasan (Artistic Director of Theatre Wallay), Zainab Hasan, Rabia Pasha, Imran Iftikhar, Shahzaib Wahlah, Razia Abrar and Ikram Ullah Khan, most of whom have been associated with the troupe since its inception did a great job. The play explored the various ills of our society using different narratives and episodes. It was aimed towards voicing how Pakistanis manage to reclaim and celebrate various public spaces, how the course of their lives has changed following years and years of constant fear which still hampers the smooth flow of public events, learning, worship and leisure time in the country. Using different themes and personal experiences of the cast members, the play brought forward the most pressing issues like terrorism, human rights, women rights, lack of law and order, and security, which every Pakistani experiences in some way or the other. It talks about the rampant infrastructure development and the affect it has had on the climate, heritage, culture and daily lives of citizens, especially those of Islamabad who are experiencing the menace of gigantic constructions in the capital ruining the greenbelt and destruction of kacchi bastis at the city’s outskirts.

Written by more than a dozen people, the play gives the viewer various perspectives and reflections discussing an ordinary person’s life in Pakistan. How one needs to be careful with their stance on free speech and liberal discourse. It wonderfully puts forward the amount of resilience and strength Pakistanis possess in the face of adversity. The use of images, soulful live music, poignant vocals of Razia Abrar and metaphorical lightning enhanced the art of storytelling in this play. There were moments where one literally experienced goosebumps. – Rabia Mushtaq