Rafi Pir’s Punjabi drama Akhiyan draws crowds to Napa

Rafi Pir’s Punjabi drama Akhiyan draws crowds to Napa

Akhiyan signifies the importance of how the will of a person can take on society and its unpalatable norms.
07 May, 2024

One of the differences between vision and eyesight is — or can be — that while the latter helps us see the outside world in its physical form, the former opens our inner eye and enables us to visualise the things that exist beyond the sensory realm. This theme has been explored by notable Western playwrights and novelists.

In our part of the globe, Rafi Pir (1898-1974) is a revered name as a dramatist who wrote plays at a time when theatre was not as widely followed a form of expression as it is now. Some experts on the subject feel that his Punjabi drama Akhiyan is his best work. Therefore, it was natural that a good deal of interest was generated when Akhiyan appeared on the list of the National Academy of Performing Arts’ (Napa) featured presentations (on Sunday) as part of the academy’s ongoing first Women’s Performing Arts Festival.

Directed by Aliya Abbasi and produced by Lahore’s Azad Theatre, Akhiyan was staged with noteworthy artistic zeal. The story revolves around an orphan young girl called Begum (played by Aliya Abbasi herself) who cannot see. This disability is compounded by the fact that she has been forced to marry someone she does not love. Her uncle is her caretaker who has brought up her with affection. When the plot begins to unfold, in a scene which does not have Begum, the protagonist’s predicament comes to light clearly.

The audience soon realises, as Begum interacts with another girl in her first appearance on stage in the second scene, that she is not a meek character. She also carries a knife which is a symbol of her intrepid being. She is not afraid of speaking her mind.

Director Aliya Abbasi also performs lead role in the show staged in connection with Women’s Performing Arts Festival

Akhiyan signifies the importance of how the will of a person can take on society and its unpalatable norms. If one’s memory serves right, then the play was performed at Napa in 2015, and was well received. The production on Sunday evening had its merits, too, the foremost of which was the hard work that the actors had put in. The live music was good. However, one felt that the tabla rolls during the scenes were a bit jarring.

And one more thing: it was nice to hear Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poem Ik kudi as the soundtrack for the play — the poem had become quite popular when it was used in the Indian film Udta Punjab (2016) with a different composition.

Also on Sunday, a befitting tribute to pop icon Nazia Hasan was paid during the 11th day of the Napa’s festival.

The tribute began with a documentary showcasing Nazia’s work from her childhood days to her rise and till untimely death.

Later, in a concert, Seerat Jafri sang some of Nazia’s all-time hits. Seerat also presented some Jazz hits from renowned female singers of the genre.

Another documentary, Dancing the Female Body in Pakistan, made by Kathak dancer Nighat Chaudhry was also screened at the event.

Originally published in Dawn, May 7th, 2024


NYS May 08, 2024 11:56am
Rafi peer theatre workshop is a renowned Pakistan group theatre inception 1992— They provide a platform for artists to produce innovative and thought provoking productions that engage audiences in a meaningful way....Some notable productions" Heer Ranjha ,Dastaan... RPT played significant role in promoting Pakistani theatre not only nationally but at the same time internationally . Play" Akhian" will prove it's mettle appease the whole timeline
Taj Ahmad May 08, 2024 02:43pm
Simply great and amazing work by Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop.