Yahudi ki Ladki- Agha Hashar’s masterpiece opens at NAPA

Replete with music, elaborate costumes, backdrops, and elements of comedy contrived into the seriousness of its narrative, the performance is an experimental take on a tradition rarely seen on stage

By
Nadia Faisal

KARACHI: Virtually non-existent now and highly experimental, the latest play being staged at the National academy of performing Arts is a classic from the golden age of Urdu drama and once a popular genre of the Indian Sub-continent called the ‘Parsi Theatre’.

A melodramatic musical epic set in ancient Rome, Yahudi ki Larki was one of the best-known works of Parsi theatre playwright, Agha Hashar Kashmiri who dominated the mid-19th-century theatrical scene and was popularly known as the Shakespeare of India. In the adaptation by NAPA Repertory Theatre, opening this Thursday to a packed auditorium, the academy has tried to recreate the style and tradition of theatre which had a whole of India under its spell between 1850 and 1930s.

Inspired by a theatre culture that flourished during the post-Independence years, the adaptation directed by Khalid Ahmed attempts to revive the once popular tradition with its quintessential elements like music, songs, poetry, emotions, action sequences and loads of drama.

Replete with music, elaborate costumes, backdrops, and elements of comedy contrived into the seriousness of its narrative, the performance is an experimental take on a tradition rarely seen on stage this day. With most of its dialogue in verse or rhyming, multiple changes in terms of scenes, characters, costumes, narratives and plenty of songs added in, the play presented like an Indianized version of Shakespearean tragedy and sort of an acquired taste manages to either impress or at times baffle those in the audience.

Featuring music composed by Arshad Mehmood, the cast of the play includes Fawad Khan , Kaif Ghaznavi , Akbar Islam, Maria , Nazr-ul-Hasan , Aamir Naqvi , Fariyal Memon,  Farhan Alam, Usman Mazhar, Hani Taha , Hammad Khan, Fraz Chhotani and Zarqa Naz.

The National Academy of performing Arts, in an attempt to celebrate the rich heritage of Sub continent’s traditional Parsi theater through the works of one if its greatest contributors, will continue to stage Agha Hashar Kashmiri’s play titled ‘ Yahudi ki Ladki’ till February 26th.