by Mehru N Nisa
SRINAGAR: Dr Sohan Lal Koul’s Confession directed by Hassan Javaid, was perhaps a bold theme that the on-going 13-day Annual Drama Festival at Tagore Hall Srinagar witnessed on Friday. The three characters play revolved around a very sensitive subject by Kashmir standards.
The play was a family drama and revolved around a well-off couple – Jan sahib, a professor (played by Farooq Aafaq) and Najma, a secretary (played by Shaista Mahajan) – whose respective lives have transformed after Jan’s accident a few years ago. The play had a major performance from Hassan Javaid who played OCR (short for Omar, care of Rashid).
The performance of the three main actors, whom we have already watched on TV, was admirable but the play fell short in terms of the execution of the story. Part of the audience felt disconnected from the stage.
With betrayal and adultery as the main themes of the play, its original message was attaining peace of mind, striving to be a better person and repenting for one’s mistakes. Although the messages were clear towards the end, the story in itself failed in keeping the audience hooked throughout. Exaggerated dialogues, lengthy monologues and loud distracting music were the repulsions of the play.
The play also asserted the importance of human connections and demeaned human dependency on technology. While emotions like anger and sorrow were blown-up in the play, it wasn’t successful in addressing the underlying emotions of the characters. The use of metaphors was clear in the story, which added to the confusion of the audience rather than answering their questions.
The play ended with an ‘aside’ from OCR (Hassan Javaid) asking the audience to think about regrets, guilt and the need to repent. It included additional roles from Muzaffar Ahmad Dar and Shahid Hilal, with Balbir Singh Sahani as the associate director. One constant participant of the festival said that the play was different and sensitive and this was after a very long time that a female actor did agree to play a role that usually actor avoid in Kashmir.
Although Hassan Javaid in his address to the audience said that he had fun while playing the part and doesn’t really care for the judgments, the story could have been a lot better and interesting.
After the introduction of the actors and crew, Shaista Mahajan ended the day by reciting Ahmad Faraz’s famous poem “suna hai loug use aankh bhar ke dehte hain”.