If negative criticism gives publicity, then Dhaani deserves publicity like no other. The 75-minute performance left me wondering if it should even be called a play or a stage performance reminiscent of Omer Sharif shows. The performance lacked a proper conflict, had no rise and fall, and the purpose of the performance was inadequately explained through a narration in the end, showing nothing more than stereotypes that have not changed and people who are not willing to move on.
Dhaani revolves around two housewives, Ruqqaiya (Sanam Saeed) and Rashida (Sarwat Gillani) who are neighbours and always getting into quarrels and patching up. When it comes to the main plot, that is all that is going on. The writers (Imrana Maqsood and Amra Alam) attempted to place in the idea of India versus Pakistan, which showed their almost rigid minds in being comfortable with this age old stereotype, a stereotype that contrasts the minds of the generation trying to move on and grow out of this conflict. Also there are constant mentions of the ‘Frock wali mem’ who the ladies believe to be having an affair with Ruqqaiya’a husband, which is, oddly, the basis of the latter narration. The subplot is of Rashida’s mother (Sundus Tariq) flirting with Ruqqaiya’s chacha Fayyaz-Ud-Din (Kamal Hussain).
The storyline was flat. There was no conflict, no climax or twist in the story. In fact, one wonders what the story actually was, since all that is shown is two very stereotypical housewives who have nothing better to do than argue with each other and pass comments which seem witty but were just mindless comedy. The subplot was a useless endeavour with just the purpose of more mindless slapstick comedy. Unfortunately the whole purpose of Dhaani was absent in the performance and explained through a narration at end, which seemed rather ridiculous.
The only thing that saved just a bit of the performance was the consistency of the two female leads’ acting. Sanam Saeed handles characters very well on stage (as shown from her previous performances in Carnage and Khel ek Raat ka) But Sarwat Gillani did a better job when considering theatrical work, although both were slighty over-enthusiastic in their behaviours.
The play was childish, and was handled childishly. The set was interesting, showing how Ruqqaiya is well off as compared to Rashida, but the lighting was amateur. The fade outs were patchy and the spotlight had a hard time following the actresses during their so-called dance numbers. The dances themselves were very weak and poorly performed.
With such a superstar cast and crew I had my hopes up for Dhaani, but it is just a waste of time and money. Even the mindless humor starts getting annoying after a while. I am only grateful it was an hour and fifteen minutes, at least they had enough sense to not drag it for over two hours which other mindless commercial theatres production companies usually do.
Dhaani is running at the Arts Council, Karachi till May 30th and the tickets are available at Aghas and Arts Council, price: Rs.1000