If there are any Pakistani people following me, they’ll most likely know what I’m talking about. This is a review of the play titled ‘Siachen’ written by Anwar Maqsood.
I saw this play last night with my phuppi (father’ sister) and her friends at the PNCA.
The play began with each of the men bidding farewell to their loved ones. The soft spotlight surrounding them, with the rest of the stage in darkness foreshadows the darkness and danger of their lives ahead. I can’t lie, I did tear up. A mother sends her son off, reminding him that she is the mother of two martyrs already. After the men arrive at the camp, the satirical comedy of their lives begins.
The curtain lifts to reveal the camp at about 20,000 feet. A lone soldier is outside the igloo, communicating with the base. He is preparing to fire on the enemy. Amid the tragic sound effects, he reports that he has no time. He says ‘fear one Allah’ and aligns his sights. Yes, I was crying by now.
Before he can begin firing, his brother walks on the scene, calling him a dramatic fool. Upset that his brother has ruined the romantic tragedy he had planned, he stomps into the igloo. His brother climbs to the top of the mountain and stands watch.
His father appears and they hold a hilarious conversation, ending with the son asking the father why, if he was a figment of imagination, was there a cigarette missing from his packet.
A soldier zips the ‘saab’ up in the sleeping bag after being embarrassed while calling to his sweetheart in his sleep. The rest of soldiers mistake him for the enemy and beat him before he is let out.
The company lines up to pray. At the end of the prayer, the imam (saab) sits down and makes a dua’ (prayer to god). The dua’ is a hilarious one, which leaves the audience in stitches after his last comment, asking Allah ‘Khuda ka khouf karo!’ meaning ‘Fear God!’
An emotional scene ensues, in which one of the men breaks down after the namaz, yelling at the saab, calling him a liar and bursting into tears.
The soldiers banter with the unseen Indian army on the other side about cricket. The childish jibes and shouts make the audience roar with laughter. Eventually the captain breaks his men up. ‘Dar giya’ a childish insult meaning someone got scared or lost their nerve is thrown at him.
The Indian soldier does not come across as an enemy, as such, but more of a coward. He unsuccessfully pretends to be a Pakistani soldier who has been separated from his division.
He tries to keep up the pretence of being Pakistani, but his lack of knowledge of his captor’s homeland couples with the fact that he is speaking Hindi, not Urdu, are clearly a dead giveaway.
The play was really a masala, a blend of different genres. It was a perfect mix.
I must say, although this is best viewed in an on-stage live performance, I do heartily wish it was a movie if only so I could watch it over and over again. I would pay to see this masterpiece ten times over.
I would like to, in addition to my enthusiastic accolade yesterday, to virtually give a big hand to the Mr Anwar Maqsood for a fantastic play, the production team for making this all possible, and especially the cast for a truly tearjerking yet gut-busting performance.