By Sonya Rehman
It is a sticky; almost uncomfortably warm evening in Lahore. Ajoka has been running its ‘Panj Pani Festival’ since the 18th of April (at Alhamra Mall) and with 2-3 stage plays running every day till the 23rd (of the same month), Ajoka has injected the spirit of culture back into the city’s pulsating veins.
Lahore has been alive this month, what with the Rafi Peer Youth Festival and Ajoka’s very own 4th Indo-Pak festival running almost simultaneously alongside each other.
‘Tukke par tukka’, an adaptation of a Chinese folk story (‘Three promotions in succession’) by an Indian theatre-group, ‘Rang Vidushak’, is to be staged.
Avid theatre-goers are in attendance and after a quick announcement; the lights are dimmed, cloaking the hall in a blanket of darkness.
The sparsely full hall falls silent. Towards the left of the stage, two seated musicians wait to begin the night’s performance – one with her harmonium, the other with his dhol, tabla and drum sticks.
He begins. Pounding his instruments and whipping up a thunderous tune, it reverberates – high and low till the actors make their entry.
Directed by Bansi Kaul, ‘Tukke par tukka’ had to be the most ‘interactive’ and thoroughly entertaining stage play one would ever see. Revolving around an illiterate man, ‘Tukku mian’, the play brings to light the magic of fate and destiny. The story was a simple one, but the message? Overpowering. Breaking out into a series of song and dance throughout the performance, the actors were comic, animated and hilarious at best. There was never a dull moment.
From ‘Tukku mian’ himself, his ten friends (all dressed in powder blue costumes with painted clown-like faces) and the musicians – the roles were expertly delivered. However, the most entertaining role was that of the nawab’s. Shaking his hips to and fro and giggling femininely, as his bright little eyes crinkled – meshing into round, chubby cheeks – his comic naughtiness won him the most laughs. One could also frequently hear Faryal Gauhar – a veteran drama actress – chuckling every few minutes during the nawab’s performance.
It must be understood that extravagant set designs and lavish costumes do not promise a good production. Sure it adds to it, but what matters is a stellar performance. The actors of ‘Tukke par tukka’ in their simple costumes without hardly any props and background setting left a lot to the audience’s imagination. That’s the magic of theatre. With just their acting skills, passion for performance and live music which intimately linked itself with the story, ‘Rang Vidushak’ (thanks to Ajoka) gave Lahore a night to remember.
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