By: Omair Alavi Dawar Mahmood and his band of Kopykats have raised the bar high for theatre in Karachi in general, and Pakistan in particular. They have been around for more than a decade but teaming up with veteran playwright Anwar Maqsood gave them a new lease of life and they became trendsetters with Pawnay...
By: Omair Alavi
Dawar Mahmood and his band of Kopykats have raised the bar high for theatre in Karachi in general, and Pakistan in particular. They have been around for more than a decade but teaming up with veteran playwright Anwar Maqsood gave them a new lease of life and they became trendsetters with Pawnay 14 August, Aangan Terrha, Sawa 14 August, Haaf Playt and Siachen to name a few of their plays. Their Dharna last year was a disappointing effort and it seems that they elaborated the same idea in Bananistan, their latest offering that damages their reputation big time.
Bananistan has a brilliant plot if you ask me and same goes for the characters used in that plot. There is a Nawaz Sharif, a Shehbaz Sharif, an Imran Khan, an Altaf Hussain, a Kashmala Tariq, a Qaim Ali Shah, a Sheikh Rasheed, an Asif Ali Zardari and a Fazlur Rehman who all play actors on stage since its 2030 AD and they are all out of work due to Martial Law in Bananistan. Not bad if you consider that they didn’t have the luxury of Anwar Maqsood as a playwright, Dawar Mahmood as a director and Kopykats regulars Yasir Hussain and others as members of the cast. The script is the weakest link of the play here and had the writers not injected the internet memes and jokes in the script, the play would have done well.
Then there was the acting that would prove to be shocking for the regular audience … you won’t believe that the woman playing Nawaz Sharif’s wife was also playing Kashmala Tariq; the spot boy (played by Hasan Raza) and the actress who played the on-stage director were the biggest disappointments. In fact, the on-stage director got on many people’s nerves including this scribe with her over-the-top acting and singing. Yes, in Anwar Maqsood’s plays there was no singing and that’s what made Dawar’s productions different from the rest. The Disney-inspired singing may have appealed to the Nida Butt-fan club but not to the followers of Kopykats Productions.
The actor who played Qaim Ali Shah (Shaqat Khan) had the meatiest role but in his first play for Kopykats in more than 5 years, ‘Shafqi’ tried to be himself and not the character and that is something he shouldn’t have done. Dawar Mahmood as Imran Khan and Fareeha Raza as Hina Rabbani were the saving grace of the play and they were aided in their quest by Saqib Sameer’s Altaf Hussain and the guy playing Sheikh Rasheed. Mustafa Choudhry is a wonderful actor and it would have been better had his talent been used constructively rather than asking him to play Maulana Fazlur Rehman, something he has played on TV on numerous occasions.
On the whole, Bananistan is a play with potential and one hopes that the director Tulin Khalid Azim makes the necessary changes to it so that people with high expectations exit the theatre in a good mood rather than in a disappointed manner. The singing has to go and same can be said of the cartoonish sequences where the on-stage producer played by Mohsin Ejaz strikes the on-stage director with a stick … that looks good in Road Runner cartoons but not in a stage play by Kopykats Productions. The play had many moments where the audience laughed and clapped but lack of humour and intelligent dialogues left a bad taste for some, if not many.