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Exclusive: Pakistani play ‘Mushk’ makes Indian streaming Zee Theatre debut

The two-woman show stars Sania Saeed, Nimra Bucha

SAMAA | - Posted: Apr 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago
Posted: Apr 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 2 years ago

Photo: SAMAA Digital

Indian streaming website Zee Theatre, which works on a model similar to Netflix’s, will feature two Pakistani plays Mushk and Jhanjar Di Pawan Chankaar.

The decision signifies a step away from India’s otherwise strict policy of not allowing any form of collaboration between the entertainment industries of the two neighbouring countries.

The Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), which has previously told all its members to stop working with Pakistani artists, has now also banned all online collaborations between entertainers from the two countries after the likes of Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Sethi did live online sessions with fellow musicians from India.  

The federation sent out a notification warning all its members that anyone found violating the ban will face strict repercussions.

Zee Theatre, however, seems to have little regard for the federation’s threat as it openly flouts its rules by making two Pakistani shows available for streaming on its website.  

“The threats that their artists are receiving are from a political organisation and that is their internal matter,” said Sania Saeed, who plays a lead role in Mushk, while speaking to SAMAA Digital. “If they want to stream a production of ours then all that shows is that we have produced quality work.”

However, Sania insisted that Pakistan should not follow India’s draconian entertainment laws.

“We don’t have to treat artists the way they do in India. Intellectuals are being targeted in India and even their own people are criticising their government for that. We live in the same region so we will always have some sort of connection, regardless of whether the relation between the two countries is positive or negative. As artists, we will have to pick sides ourselves on an individual basis.”

Sania revealed that while the availability of the two plays on Zee Theatre was announced recently, the wheels had been set in motion behind the scenes more than a year ago. Both plays are part of Sarmad Khoosat’s Olomopolo Media and their recordings were sent to several companies at the end of 2018.

“This is a private project with decisions being taken from a business and financial perspective, but of course the consent of the government is also involved,” said Sania. “A Pakistani company is also part of the whole process.”

In Muskh, the 47-year-old plays the role of a journalist who goes to interview an author played by Nimra Bucha, with the play exploring the themes of existential philosophy and human emotions.

She added that dialogue and cultural exchange between the two countries must not stop despite the threats from FWICE. “They need to realise that this is an exchange and that their films come to Pakistan as well. Artists always talk about peace so to use us as tools for political means or to propagate hatred is not right.”

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