by Maleeha Sofi

SRINAGAR: The theatre play Fataah was an adaptation of Shankar Shesh’s play Fandi that artists from SR Theatre Ganderbal exhibited in the just concluded theatre festival at Tagore Hall. It linked interesting extremes to tell the story of death, poverty and the rule of law.

The play opens with a group of prisoners doing a traditional performance Dambael while the group is consoling a person in the middle of the circle formed by their lyrics Ma Bhar Cxe Gham (avoid stress). The person is the main character, Fataah who has been awarded a death sentence. A lawyer, Rustom Rahman has been appointed by the court, an amicus curie, to fight Fataah’s case as he could not afford one.

The court had chosen Rustom as his lawyer merely because he shares his name with his father. However, Rustom Rahman has never won any case before and is apparently a kind-hearted person who wills to help Fataah.

Fataah is hopeless. In the conversation with his friends and well-wishers, Fataah denies meeting him and accepts him as his lawyer as he thinks nothing can save him. Finally, however, he somehow agrees to it.

The story unfolds gradually. The reason behind his imprisonment is gradually unfolded in their conversation, so it does create a little suspense in the audience. Fataah has been charged with the killing of his father who was battling cancer. He had strangulated his father to death only to relieve him of the pain on repeated requests by his father as they could not afford the injections any longer. Fataah had taken debt from someone.

The lawyer plan to do a rehearsal of the next day’s court trial in which they both imitate the possible witnesses in favour of Fataah. Fataah himself plays the role of judge, the debtor, his wife and other witnesses. It seems as if they win, but it doesn’t happen. All the witnesses speak lies against Fataah and even his wife could not make it to court due to an accident.

Artists who were part of the theatre play, Fataah that was shown in Tagore Hall Srinagar as part of Kashmir Theatre Festival 2023. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Rustom helps to get him another lawyer who luckily does not charge any fee. The conversation after the next trial (The trial isn’t shown in the play) reveals that the lawyer has done well in the court but could not save him. They again rehearse for the next hearing and the play ends with that only without showing whether Fataah will win or lose. The decision is left for the audience to decide.

Fataah is a family man. The play sequences suggest he can not be the person who can kill his father. He had done so, however, to end his father’s pain. The main theme of the play is mercy killing and poverty. There are people who can’t afford the treatment of certain fatal diseases and they tend to die one day or another. Fataah was trapped in the same conundrum until he choked his father to death.

The role of Fataah was played by Sahil Shafi, who did a commendable job of playing different characters. He changed his articulation, enunciation, tone and draping style within seconds to shuffle from one character to another. The set-up was given a touch of Kashmir by choosing the props traditional to Kashmir.

The play is originally written by Shankar Shesh and adopted by Raja Maqbool. It was directed and designed by Sahil Shafi. The character of the lawyer is played by Ashraf Nago, the warden by Aaquib Hameed and Fataah by Sahil Shafi. Dambael was sung and presented by Nazir Ahmad, Bilal Ahmad, Hilal Ahmad, Sahil Meghraj, Shakeel Sheikh, Mohsin Qadir, Shahzad Ahmad, Aqib Nazir Paray, Maroof Majeed and Syed Imtiyaz. The backstage management was done by Mohsin Qadir, Nazir Ahmad, Hilal Ahmad, Aaquib Hameed, Masoom Mumtaz Khan, lights by Manzoor Ahmad Mir, Props by Haider, make-up by Rasid, Stage by Sahil and Ashraf.


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