Siachen: Did Anwar Maqsood's latest script leave us dewy-eyed?

Siachen: Did Anwar Maqsood's latest script leave us dewy-eyed?

This theatrical endeavour to explore the human cost of the Siachen conflict was a good one, but could have been better
02 Nov, 2015

When Anwar Maqsood’s theatrical plays come to the Capital, his name is enough to draw a crowd.

Isloo-ites know they are in for a special treat. With chunks of satire and morsels of gravity garnished with a message for the youth, his plays serves as food for thought for the 300-plus literary-starved audience in attendance during each show.

His latest offering Siachen is no different.

Up on the world's highest battlefield

The play opens with a mother bidding farewell to her Siachen-bound son, a sister saying goodbye to her brother, a wife sending off her husband and a father promising a football gift to his son on his return – all against the aural backdrop of Anwar Maqsood's voice, who expresses their hopes of return. From the get-go, the play reminds us of the human cost of the war on the world's highest battleground.

We move to a snowcapped peak, where a young, courageous soldier delivers a monologue in Urdu, tinged with the Pashto accent, about destroying the enemy single-handedly.

He is however soon joined by a group of other jawans stationed on the Siachen base and the conversation shifts to their personal lives.

There is no doubt left with the audience that the jawans are very homesick as their dialogues revolved around the upcoming wedding of a sister, a mother’s letter, commitments with the fiancée.

But, their conversation also powerfully establishes that patriotism overshadows everything for these sons of the soil. Their motherland takes precedence even over their mothers, thus highlighting the quintessence of their obligation to the country.

The scene then moves to a light exchange between the Pakistani and Indian soldiers about a Pak-India cricket match. Each Pakistani soldier took turns to humour the audience with their witty repartee with their Indian counterparts. The lines were classic Anwar Maqsood.

The acts to follow included a visit of a young female BBC journalist, who lightens the mood of the soldiers with her presence and eventually forms a love triangle with the captain and a soldier. In the same act, the writer delivers a strong message for the audience when the soldier takes a bullet for her.

Some laughs, some tears

Anwar Maqsood also wrote in the character of an Indian Behari soldier, who has lost his way, stumbled into the Pakistani camp and became a Prisoner of War. One expected that Anwar Maqsood's satire would come out in full force in this scene, but the most of its humour drew from the accented dialogue delivery rather than content of the script.

The rest of the play packed the right punches, especially because its humour was not Karachi-centric, like KopyKats' past plays.

Born and bred Isloo-ites find it hard to understand the significance of Burnes Road or Guru Mandir or Kati Pahari because they are unfamiliar with the Karachi landscape.

Siachen, however, only focused on the day-to-day activities of the soldiers stationed at the peak, their human aspect and their love for the country. It gave a bird’s eye view to every Pakistani in attendance as to what sacrifices our jawans are giving to protect their country and the countrymen.

However, the emotional scenes in the play failed to bring tears to the audience, despite the melancholic musical score, as they ran for too short a duration.

Dialogue delivery at times lacked clarity as one could witness more laughter coming from the lower end of the theater than from the audience seated in the back rows.

Still, one must give credit where it's due. It hasn't been too long since KopyKats Productions was able to convince Mr Maqsood to rewrite a few of his idiot box blockbusters for the stage.

This nostalgic endeavour has not only brought back the golden era of PTV but also passes on the quintessence of good scripts to the next generation of playwrights and novelists, thus giving them a wake-up call.


KnowTheTruth Nov 02, 2015 02:31pm
Siachen is the highest battlefield in the world. Is there any real need for our soldiers to freeze their bottoms guarding a place that even an enemy would not love to guard? The two nations should just sit together and close this issue across the table. Let soldiers lead their lives guarding the nation from insurgents and anti national elements rather than fighting the nature.
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Ahmad Nov 02, 2015 03:30pm
Hope they would perform outside of pakistan too (Dubai to start with!)
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Sarhady Nov 02, 2015 03:55pm
If written by Anwar Maqsud their going to be some weight in it. The critic may say other wise but the grey hair man is so switch on in production is not a drama. waiting for to watch it.
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prateek Nov 02, 2015 04:54pm
So does the play offer any hope?
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M.Saeed Nov 02, 2015 06:11pm
Drama is a drama in every way. But, there must be some message in a drama for the young generation. People would equate it with "Alfa Bravo Charlie", which was an epoch making presentation on the same subject and was a clear milestone.
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Arshad Nov 02, 2015 06:35pm
I am a big fan of Anwar Maqsood and and he has some exceptional writing skills. I just read some details in the above article and I think it is a good way of bringing a very sad topic to public attention. I think the time has come India and Pakistan has to move on and stop blaming each for the sake of their people. There is no distrust between common people on either side, I have worked in India for a year we get on very well and I have good Indian friends and they are not Muslims. I believe history will never forgive politicians whom are creating hatred on both side of the boarder and I also believe both armies do not want the peace either.
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Khan Nov 02, 2015 08:53pm
Well done Anwar Maqsood you are a genius...
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Manu Nov 02, 2015 09:05pm
A play about soldiers going to a battle and dying- feeling homesick and patriotic! How original. Amazing that Pakistan is coming up with such original plays. The whole theme is completely amazing. ;)
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Superraj Nov 03, 2015 12:46am
@Manu True. Very amazing script.
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syed adnan naqvi Nov 03, 2015 04:49am
@Manu And your multi billion dollar Indian film is more original.
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Nangyal Nov 03, 2015 07:59am
That's Siachen issue is ridiculous, people of the world are laughing at India & Pakistan, same people of same culture , language and heritage are now killing each other wherever they can. There is no pride in Indian shooting a Pakistani and vice versa, it puts a hole in the hearts of people of both countries.
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Lumboobhai Nov 03, 2015 08:43am
At this battleground situated at this freezing height the story of patriotism and survival has to be spiced with a love triangle.Mohabbat zindabad.
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Muby Nov 03, 2015 09:13am
i really enjoyed the play and am sure people who have spent their hard-area in Siachin will enjoy it alot and can easily relate to certain things.
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Azhar Nov 05, 2015 08:45pm
I wish that this play is available for Pakistani living abroad.
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