ISLAMABAD: Although an exclusive affair, the much heard about play by Anwar Maqsood titled Pawnay 14 August finally made it to Islamabad on Wednesday, two months too late with the efforts of the Citizens Foundation at Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).
The play cannot be called revolutionary or ground breaking, but it was refreshing in the quality of its script filled with Anwar Maqsood’s characteristic witty humour shedding light on what it means to be a Pakistani today? And what it means to be a Pakistani today can only be evaluated through the eyes of those who originally envisioned the country.
Thus, the play unfolds from the perspective of the three great leaders, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah (played by Umar Sultan), Allama Iqbal (played by Talal Jillani) and Maulana Shaukat Ali (Aamer Agha), who have come from heaven to see how Pakistan’s 65th year of independence is being celebrated in the country they led to independence. The scene is set at Karachi airport where the three are waiting for their seats to be confirmed on a flight to Islamabad.
However what they find is not a proud people, but people who are confused, mired in their local and religious identities instead of a single national one. A poet questions the status of Iqbal as Pakistan’s greatest poet, a member of Muslim League arrives only to reveal its division into factions, a Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf supporter shows all her ideological faith in Imran Khan’s good looks and women’s right to call anyone ‘darling’ and so on.
Maqsood touches on all issues that have plagued Pakistan from its inception, from the misguided aims of our political parties to the army’s tendency to overstep their territory, our dependence on America in realising our fate, the evolution of the nuclear bomb at the cost of poverty and hunger for the people, and in a poignant scene, the separation of Bangladesh.
None of the points Maqsood touches upon are necessarily new, but it is the meaning they take when seen from the eyes of Jinnah, Iqbal and the Maulana that makes the play interesting and gives Maqsood room to re-visit our history with some spice and good humoured mockery of the downwards spiral Pakistanis seem to be privy to.
The team of KopyKat Productions seemed to have polished their roles after having presented the play in Karachi and Lahore, and presented a smooth performance.
Dawar Mehmood’s direction was never sloppy and nicely managed to bring a well-written script to life. The play was appreciated by the audience with laughter and applause and made for a pleasant evening.