Well-known theatre group Dramaducation’s Muzakar Muanas, which saw its last performance Saturday night at Alhamra Cultural Complex, was admittedly a “satire on love” (writer Shah Fahad’s own words).
Inspired from Neil Simon’s A Star-Spangled Girl, the play captures a ‘love triangle,’ as they say. The story revolves around two friends living in an apartment and striving to make money out of writing and selling a magazine, funnily titled ‘Afra Tafri.’ Enters a girl in the apartment below. She is said to be a part of the Pakistan Women Cricket team. What follows is a chaos where one falls for the other, thanks to her “smell.”
When asked why smell was chosen as the symbol of physical attraction, Shah Fahad told TNS, “Often, when we fall in love there is a very vague reason behind it. Smell embodies that vagueness.”
The two leading men — the two friends in the apartment — are the ‘Junooni’ Javed Anjum, played by the zesty Alee Hassan Shah, and Bilawal Sheikh (there is an obvious pun in his name which is a concoction of Bilawal Bhutto and Sheikh Rasheed), played by Sarmad Aftab, a very talented theatre actor from Lahore.
Sadly, Alee Hassan came across on stage as a little too ‘full of himself’ which pretty much defeated the purpose of acting. On the other hand, Sarmad Aftab was brilliant and, especially with his body language, he came across as loud but never quite overdone.
As the story goes, Bilawal falls in love with the girl, the girl falls in love with Javed, resulting in rivalry between the two room mates.
The play lasted approximately an hour and 30 minutes. With a plot that seemed to drag on, more often than not, the play seemed like trying too hard to make the audience laugh.
The love satire was also mired by political debate and a linear plot. Eventually, what you take home with you is really nothing.
The three leads tried hard to keep things alive on stage but the story had nothing to it that could excite you. Not that the play was predictable, but the fact that it failed to grab your attention. Often, I found myself desperately waiting for the show to end.
The shining star of the show had to be Mahaa Mazhar who plays the athlete girl. Though it was Mahaa’s first stage performance, she was not only confident but also very convincing and, above all, funny. As the mindless, headstrong athlete who could beat up the boys if need be, her accent and her mannerisms were spot-on.
Faheem Muzaffar’s direction was commendable but he could do little to salvage a plot so awry and hollow. Being also a superb actor, with some of Dramaducation’s best performances to his credit, he infused in the actors the right spirit, placement and movements. But that is that.