by Maleeha Sofi

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SRINAGAR: The play named Akh Pryetch, the fifth play in the series of eight-day long Theatre Festival Kashmir 2023, was a riddle. Written by broadcaster Nisar Naseem and presented by Yamberzal Youth Club, it triggered curiosity among the audience, mostly college students.

The play touches on sensitive issues like short-tempered behaviour ruining relationships, parental conflicts traumatizing children, mistrust leading to relationship failures, and misuse of Islamic laws without proper knowledge.

The play had soft music start with a stage set up as a room. There is an almirah which has given space to some books and toys, a dressing table, and a couch. A conversation between the housewife – Aisha and her guest Rahman Khar, apparently a transgender opens the play. Rahman Khar is shown to have a split personality of a man and a woman. Interestingly he is desirous of marrying Aisha.

Aisha, played by Shafiya Maqbool is the wife of Amin played by Fayaz Ahmad Rather. They have two children and live happily together. Once a man visits them complaining about his son-in-law’s decision to leave his daughter over some land dispute. Amin responds to him aggressively and is shocked to know that someone can leave his partner over a petty issue.

Gradually, the issue rises in their family as well. From arguing over their children’s upbringing to talking nicely to a colleague and doubting her for cheating, Amin gets angry easily. It shows his short-tempered behaviour. Aisha behaved patiently but did not let her husband humiliate her. On a minute issue of complaining over her husband’s smoking, they get into an argument which leads to their divorce by, what is hugely debated, the triple Talaq.

Aisha shatters down by this as their marriage of 14 years has been broken. The children witnessed the fight between parents and their facial expressions tried to show the trauma that such children face.

Aisha’s brother and Rahman Khar insist Amin bring Aisha back but he does not listen to anyone. Aisha visits the local lawmaker for help but he refuses to help. While being alone, she imagines having a conversation with Amin. This scene is added phenomenally by a song in Jameela Akhter’s voice.

Meanwhile, Amin also imagines pictures of Aisha’s affair with his colleague and Rahman Khar. But immediately, he realises that she has been with him through thick and thin and she can’t cheat. He goes to Aisha and apologizes.

Aisha who was waiting for him and cried day in and out refused to get back together. Amin’s realisation would not change the fact that he had divorced her through the Islamic Shariah and the precondition for reconciliation was impossible for Aisha to follow.

Theatre artists who performed in the Akh Pryetch (A riddle) that was staged in Tagore Hall as part of teh Kashmir theatre festival 2023. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The female lead- Shafiya Maqbool hooked the audience with her effortless expressions and perfection in dialogue delivery. She seemed to be completely in her character. Somehow, the coherence in the first half of the play was missing. There were some gaps left which created unwanted questions among the audience.

Written by Nisar Naseem, presented by Yamberzal Youth Club, directed by Javaid Ahmad Khan, assistant direction by Shahid Malik, Costumes by Shabir Ahmad Mir, light designed by Balbir Singh, Song by Jameela Akhter, production management by Javaid Kashmiri, stage management by Shahzad Shabir, Makeup by Younis Ahmad Hafiz and Set designed by Basharat Hussain. The on-stage artists were Fayaz Ahmad Rather as Amin, Shafiya Maqbool as Aisha, Shahnawaz Bhat as Rehman, Asif Khan as Aslam, Fayaz Sofi as Mohammad Bhat, Younis Ahmad Hafiz as MLA, Khursheed Ahmad Mir as Fayaz and Arbeen Jan and Zieya Jan as children.

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