NAPA proves yet again that it prefers quality over all else, choosing to deliver only that with the latest double bill, Naql-E-Makani by Bedi and Badshahat ka Khatima by Manto, both directed by Khalid Ahmed.
Naql-E-Makani revolves around a couple, Nafees and Azra (performed by Farhan Alam Siddiqi and Kaif Ghaznavi) who have moved into a new house only to find out that it previously belonged to a ‘dancer’ known and loved by the neighborhood as Shaado. There is humor when the neighborhood mistakes their moving in as Shaado’s return and the couple has to turn them down or shove them out of the apartment, showing the frustration people have to suffer by being the decent ones.
Farhan Alam, known for his previous performances as Antonio in Venice ka Saudagar and Superintendant in Lao to Qatal Nama Mera (which he also directed) played the role of the agitated sober man perfectly, showing his breakdown throughout all the humor, giving the play a serious and, to some extent, a rather depressing tone, contributing to the story of the play beautifully. Kaif Ghaznavi did a good job, the only thing one could not comprehend would be her get up (the braids seemed to be overdoing it). Although at some points had some issues of projecting her voice across the auditorium, she made it up with beautiful singing. Other characters include a Pan shop owner played by Hammad Sartaj, known for Shylock in Venice ka Saudagar and Inspecter Roshan in Lao to Qatal Nama Mera, who yet again proves to be a promising actor showing great versatility and stage presence. Another noticeable character was Rauf Afridi as Saiyyan, a drunken student desperate to meet Shaado.
Khalid Ahmed’s direction was brilliant, he could have easily turned this into a cheap vulgar play, what with the storyline having tendencies for such humor, but he put good effort in it, making the play graceful with appropriate humor worth a decent chuckle. Even the scene with Saiyyan evading Nafees to see Shaado was executed so well and not overdone at all. It is a play which is worth a watch for those who would enjoy some decent, quality entertainment.
Badshahat ka Khatima is something very difficult to present on stage. That being said, Khalid Ahmed’s efforts are admirable and to some point successful. It seemed too slow but I believe that was the point. It has Manmohan, played by NAPA’s famous Nazrul Hasan, falling for a mysterious woman, also played by Kaif Ghaznavi, because of her soothing and beautiful voice. The story attempts to show his addiction to her calls and proves that addiction to anything is dangerous. This play had Ghaznavi winning us over with her vocals, making us understand why Manmohan is addicted to her voice. Again, good direction and a treat for theatre and Manto fans.
The set for both plays were similar. Usually plays have blackouts during scene change. However in both the plays the background was lit, showing us silhouettes of the characters changing positions or the set changers on their duties, to be honest it was a flaw as it removed the ‘magic’ of the play, being a distraction from it. Lighting was apt and the costumes were adequate, except for the previously mentioned braided look of Azra and also the dhoti get up worn by the Pan shop owner, we could understand he was that simply because of the pan shop made for him, otherwise he might as well have been a butcher and we wouldn’t be able to tell.
Overall the plays are well executed and definitely worth a watch. the will be performed Thursday to Sunday till May 5th.