Pawnay 14 August: Silence for brilliance

Published: March 30, 2012

The magic that Anwar Maqsood can weave with his pen, which switches effortlessly between literary, political, show-biz and at times even cheesy jokes is mesmerising. The pen knows no bound and with an equally effortless stride switches between satire, political commentary and thought-provoking lines. PHOTO: File

A theatre play about Pakistan, revolving around the theme of August 14 which sports characters like Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Dr Allama Mohammad Iqbal and Maulana Shaukat Ali Johar does not sound like your average musical advocating freedom of sexual orientation – and thus, it perhaps does not warrant the same media attention.

Even I would not have attended it had it not been for a violent strike that paralysed the city and left me looking for some aesthetic relief. To my surprise, I was told that the play is not only running but pulling packed audiences. I was lucky that I got the pass, which only happened because the turnout was slightly lower due to the strike.

Successful play: check

Stellar playwright: check

Convenient location: check

Standing ovations: check

But where are the rave reviews?

Why is there such a media silence in what is probably one of the best plays that has been on offer in the past four to five years?

Nothing that I have seen in this time was more relevant, intelligently written, passionately performed and hysterically applauded by the audience. I know one man who walked up to Mr Anwar Maqsood after the play and told him that never in his life had he cried while simultaneously laughing aloud!

Such is the magic that Anwar Maqsood can weave with his pen, which switches effortlessly between literary, political, show-biz oriented and at times even cheesy jokes. The pen knows no bound and with an equally effortless stride switches between satire, political commentary and thought-provoking lines.

In one particular dialogue, the Quaid-e-Azam counts the resources and beauty of Pakistan and Allama Iqbal interjects by asking if the Quaid was listing Pakistan’s blessings or reciting Surah-e-Rehman which talks about the bounties bestowed upon mankind by the Almighty.

The Quaid, with moisture in his eyes, replies that

 Pakistan was indeed Surah Rehman itself!

There were many glistening eyes that watched the play, wept and laughed out loud. The law and order situation prevalent in the city on the day was very relevant to the overall mood of the play and put it in the right perspective.

The play is presented by KopyKats Productions and has been directed by the young talent Dawar Mahmood, who was assisted by Sher Ali Minallah. The play, which on the surface is hilarious, has deeper layers and discusses some of the most painful events in the history of this country.

Absence of media coverage and reviews in the popular press is not just disheartening but utterly confusing.

Read more by Adil here.



Adil Mulki

Adil Mulki

The author is a Finance and Audit professional presently working for a bank. In his free time he enjoys travelling to remote areas in Pakistan, outdoor activities such as camping, trekking, hiking, fishing, boating and riding etc.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Xain Gardezi

    may be because it had nothing to do with homosexuality, acid throwing, taliban, how pakistanis are extremists and terrorists, intolerant etc?Recommend

  • akka

    Personally, I thought it was highly mediocre. Its somewhat unscrupulous to exploit the national anthem-renditions to achieve a ‘standing’ ovation. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Saw it yesterday. The house was packed and there were people sitting and standing wherever they could. The play was everything you said it was and much, much more.
    A very poignant moment was in the end when Anwar Maqsood stepped up say a few words, was overcome with emotion and left with the audience applauding on its feet. Recommend

  • akka

    … also a bit racist! The Bengali character was played by a short fat actor who had his face ‘blackened’ by make-up. His exit was preceded by an invitation to a young girl to join him for ‘mosli-chawal’.Recommend

  • Adeel

    @Akka i dont think the standing ovation was for the play itself but was in respect for the national anthem. Well written Adil. Indeed the play was a treat to watch and is the best i have seen in recent times…Great job Dawar and team! Recommend

  • Mohammad Zeeshan

    I had the opportunity to watch the play…. it was indeed a treat to watch… very nicely written by Anwer Maqsood and equally well performed by the young artists of stage/theatre… i have seen so many plays, but by far Pawnay 14 August was one of the best… the script was so true which reflected our country’s present situation… if someone really cares about the country/nation, he must have felt the same way as that of author of this article. Thanks Adil for writing about the play and sharing the thoughts for those who haven’t seen the play as yet.Recommend

  • akka

    @Adeel: Isn’t that what I just said? Recommend

  • Xain Gardezi

    Even the hits on this page are less. :D

    Should have mentioned something about Veena MalikRecommend

  • Raza

    Its already out? I’ve been waiting ever since I read about in Images. We cover every piece of rubbish related to Veena Malik and the likes; and Anwar Maqsood’s first ever play barely gets a review?Recommend

  • deedee

    guess what? there’s a strike again. I think this play is so cursed… there was a strike on its inaugural night… and there have been four more strikes/violence struck days while its been running.
    Anwar Maqsood sahib has really stated the obvious but we choose to keep our eyes shut.Recommend

  • Hareem farooq

    Hey Adil on behalf of kopykats productions i would like to thank you for such a brilliant review :).. 

    @akka..i think you highly misunderstood the concept of playing the national anthem. even without an anthem this play would hav gotten standing ovations and the audience that kept on standing 5 min after the anthem ended proved that. I hope you sat down after it ended i mean even we would not appreciate ‘forced standing ovations’ :) far as ‘racism’ is concerned i would like to let you know that any theatre actor is not finalised for his/her appearance but for their talent. Bengali was a very difficult character to pull off and mojiz hassan has executed it brilliantly. I guess you were too busy trying to point out negatives out of the play. And yes please do let me know if bengalis around the world are not known for their dark complexion just like pakistanis are known for their wheatish and english are known for their fair complexion. Despite these two issues we hope your money didnt go to waste and you had a good time :)

    Rest of you guys, thank you sooo much. Such appreciation encourages  us to bring more qaulity work in future :)Recommend

  • Adil Mulki

    @Hareem Farooq / KopyKats productions

    It was a pleasure watching the play. After watching all kinds of plays from Napa, Made-for-stage, Shah Sharabeel and plays by LUMS students and other groups over the years, I can safely say that “Pawnay 14 August” seemed to move the audience the most.

    Some other performances I recall, that appeared to touch the audiences in a similar manner were:
    i) segments from “Habib Mamoo” acted by the legendary Talat Hussain (I wish him a speedy recovery and good health),
    ii) parts of “Othello” played by Napa a year and a half back,
    iii) and one particular play (cant recall the name – the theme was terrorism – most of the play was comedy) acted out in the open air theatre, performed by a collage of students from institutes ranging from LUMS and NCA to CBM and IBA.

    Some musicals performed in recent times have been good too. Shah Sharabeel’s productions are usually very well done but he himself confesses that the purpose is just to provide entertainment – not to make people think or move them. Made-for-stage / Nida Butt’s plays are really good too – especially due to their music / live, sometimes original as well. But then again, none of all these plays could match up with Anwar Maqsood sahib’s writing. Most of the people that I discussed the play with, were of the unanimous opinion that the play’s duration was short! something that I really haven’t heard about any other play that I can recall – infact sometimes, even for musicals, the complain is that they were too lengthy!

    Keep up the good work guys. Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    peoples in pakistan still buys this craps….. NOW they should change to poverty hunger and
    unemployment and jinnah, iqbal standing in the chowk and asking money BANAMEY KHUDA.

  • Sail Boat

    ever heard of “inshajee” ?… of the “inshajeee ab koooch karo” fame?Recommend

  • Marium Arif

    Pawnay 14 August was absolute brilliance!

    with a single set and 3 main cast members who didnt leave the stage for the entire duration, Anwar Maqsood’s script, the actors expression and delivery, BEAUTIFUL.

    and at a lot of truth-facing moments, a personal experience of an ashamed bow to our heads and tears in my eyes.

    Sincerely hoping for some betterment of our country!Recommend

  • Fatima Ali Khan

    Aaaaawww i want to watch it tooo! Can we ever get to see this play in lahore??Recommend

  • Sana

    My question exactly, can we hope to see this play here in Isloo??? Sounds really interesting and really want to watch it, please try you bring it here too!Recommend

  • Naseer Ahmed

    Brilliant play! thought provoking in most decent hillarious way!

    Hats off to Anwar Maqsood and Kopykats team for the brilliant effort!Recommend

  • Naseer Ahmed

    Hats off to Anwar Maqsood and KopyKats!
    Lovely play! Not only was it a thought provoking on the current conditions of Pakistan but also hillarious in the most decent way!Recommend

  • Ayaz Karamatullah

    Truly mesmerized by how effortlessly the cast performed. It was truly magical. Laughed through out, and by the end of it I was almost in tears.

    Kudos to Anwar Maqsood, KopyKats and Dawar Mahmood!Recommend

  • Tahira

    I just came back from the play and Im still so mesmerized by it!
    The acting was beyond brilliant, the dialogues were so smartly written that they make one laugh , cry and think about the present day situation.
    I thank the entire team of Pawnay 14 August for making such a brilliant play and hope more such exemplary plays grace the stage soon.Recommend

  • akka

    @Hareem farooq: bro, just cause I didn’t like your opportunism, doesn’t mean I ‘missed the concept’ of playing the national anthem. To go on, its rubbish to say that an actor’s looks are not part of why he is picked. I mean your ‘Bengali’ actor would NOT have been picked to play Jinnah, would he? As far as ‘Bengalis being known for having a darker complexion’ is concerned, there’s a word for creating a caricature based on racial characterization. Its known as ‘blackface’. Look it up. I know a lot of Bengalis and none of them are wearing (&^& lungis and inviting girls to join them for ‘mosli chawal’. If you think Bengalis are so distinctive, why not pick a Bengali to play that character? There’s no shortage of them in Karachi.Recommend