Dawar Mahmood of KopyKats Productions must have been pretty sure of what he was getting into when he decided to present the classic televised play, Aangan Tehra, theatrically.
While he has been known for reinventing the wheel by having made phenomenal profits on his recent theatre hit, Pawnay 14 August (PCA), a diehard fan club of the original Aangan Tehra may find the play not to have done justice to the social satire in the original TV series.
But Dawar Mahmood’s youthful sense of confidence and experience are convincing, and the scriptwriter Anwar Maqsood believes in his resolve. Dawar’s PCA sold tickets at the Karachi Arts Council auditorium like the proverbial hot cakes last year which is quite a rare phenomenon.
While KopyKats’ actors were generously paid for their hard work, let’s not forget that a strong script is the key to clinching audiences which ultimately makes a viable business model as far as theatre is concerned. PCA’s instant success on stage last year proved that theatre does flourish in Karachi, provided there is a good script.
With Anwar Maqsood’s script, you just cannot go wrong. At the exclusive preview of Aangan Tehra for Images on Sunday, Dawar Mahmood claimed that a few additions have been made to the script, perhaps to give it a more contemporary feel with the times but the original largely remains unadulterated.
“I initially wanted to do Aangan Tehra last year but Anwar saheb wanted me to direct PCA first. I had to yield,” he said.
Aangan Tehra mocks the integrity of an upright civil servant; the frustration of a wife who subsists on bare necessities and her husband’s strong sense of morality; and the vanity of a classical dancer turned domestic servant who continues to serve without being paid. Aangan Tehra satirises society in general.
Funny and typical Anwar Maqsood one-liners send ripples such as ‘maadar-i-qillat’ or ‘jitne paon phelao gay itni hi chaddar dengey’, or when the domestic servant is scolded for being too outspoken: ‘mulazimat ke dairay mein raho’; as the story progresses to show an endless struggle to make ends meet. That cumbersome struggle we all face in our daily lives and can easily relate to, while Aangan Tehra adds humour to it.
The cast includes most of those who were part of the PCA performance, with the pleasant inclusion of Khalifa Sajeeruddin who has played the role of Jiyala in many of playwright Imran Aslam’s political comedies. Sajeeruddin is acting Pi-jan Chaudhry (originally played by Arshad Mahmud in the televised version), and comes pretty close to the original, managing quite a persuasive Punjabi look and accent.
The most hilarious is the young Yasir Hussain who plays the role of the manservant Akbar. His deep voice reminds you of Salim Nasir, yet Yasir walks the most bizarre effeminate gait with ease that fits the demands of his character.
Talal Jilani’s complacent look suits his role of Mehboob Ahmed, while Harem Farooq as Jahan Ara brings out the irritable nature of her character well. She, however, needs to slow down the pace of her dialogue delivery to make herself sound clear.
Beginning on Feb 9, at the Karachi Arts Council auditorium, Aangan Tehra is a good bet for one’s (ticket) money but the audience must be forewarned not to compare it with the original cast — veteran artists Shakeel, Bushra Ansari and the late Salim Nasir in the lead roles — for it would be a tad unfair to the effort.