HYDERABAD, Feb 15 Syed Furqan Haider, noted director and producer of stage drama, feels that theatre faces rapid decline due to multiple reasons and if serious efforts are not made on the pattern of National Academy of Performing Arts the situation will remain unchanged.

Mr Haider has returned to theatre after a five-year stay in the US. He was one of the founders of commercial theatre in Karachi and worked with the likes of comedy king Umer Sharif.

His dramas were mostly based on comedy. Haider and Sharif were brand names for the drama's success in 80s and 90s. Versatile artists like Moin Akhtar, Shahzad Raza, Liaquat Soldier, Shakeel Siddiqui, Salomi, Zeba Shahnaz, Majid Jehangir and Ismail Tara used to feature in his dramas until the advent of private TV channels.

“I am not disappointed,” Haider said in an interview with Dawn on Monday.

Though he is not satisfied with prevalent trend in stage-plays he believes that situation can be put on right track with serious efforts and proper government intervention.

He said he was deeply impressed by the work being presented by Napa in Karachi and Arts Council. “We need to emulate them and replicate their work,” he said.

He emphasised the need for discovering new talent and grooming existing ones. His absence also broke the tempo and compelled the artists themselves to take on the responsibilities of directors, writers and producers.

“A good script has become a rare commodity and artists are seen uttering extempore 'one-liners', a practice which is not so much appreciated. The script makes a stage drama success or failure,” he remarked.

The producers should bear in mind that they must pay script writer as much as they give artists. Otherwise no one will write a three-hour play for them when they have good offers from private channels. “We also used to adjust extempore dialogues but always keeping the drama's situation in mind,” he said.

He laid stress on improving quality of stage plays to bring back families to theatres. The families and educated audience had shied away because of obscene moves and sexual innuendo packed in current dramas, he said.

Mr Haider said that regularity was another important factor in improving theatre. “As long as I produced drama it was held regularly. I remember during my visit to India artists had expressed astonishment at how I was able to produce dramas so frequently,” he recalled.

He complained nowadays the government's information department did not play any role in examining the script and watch the drama. “I remember the department used to take action against artists and producers for wrongdoing. But today the situation is quite contrary,” he said.

He pointed out that obscenity reigned supreme in stage plays nowadays with vulgar dialogues and questionable dances performed by girls. “It has seriously damaged the drama and those responsible for it must realise the degree of damage it has thus far done,” he said.

He believed it was one of the major reasons behind theatre's decline. Besides, novices and even government employees had infiltrated the field as investors and producers, he said. “If present state of drama is improved I am confident people will again see Moin Akhtar and Umer Sharif performing on the stage,” he said.