by Mehru N Nisa
SRINAGAR: With subtle hints to the increasing unemployment, pollution and abandoning the endemic culture; materialism and women’s rights were the major themes of Mohammad Yousuf Shaheen’s Kashmiri play Tike Lal which was enacted by the artists of Kashmir Culture Society, Srinagar on March 18, 2021. This was the fourth play in the ongoing Annual Drama Festival at Tagore Hall, Srinagar.
The play, directed by Mehrajuddin Wani, opened with an impressive and captivating performance by Rashid Shahnaz who plays the protagonist Tike Lal.
Tike Lal, with a slightly different ending, was originally performed at the Annual Festival in Tagore Hall in 1984 for the first time and it ended up winning the first prize. It was broadcast on Doordarshan in the year 2000. It was broadcast by radio as well. Today’s performance at Tagore Hall, the writer claimed was the umpteenth enactment ever since it was written by him. Various directors have tried to enact the same drama with different artists.
The play revolves around Tike Lal who is a greedy old man. From praying for money to literally worshipping it, Tike Lal loves nothing more than his riches. The play takes a surprising spin when Tike Lal gets to know of his daughter-in-law’s pregnancy and asks his son to inquire about the unborn baby’s gender. All along the play, he taunts his daughter-in-law about her family status.
Tike Lal’s success in the play eventually becomes the problem of the play because he is central to everything. His role, while being central, makes him dominate the entire play, which basically seems to be a radio drama. Though his delivery was fascinating, the actor could not hide the fatigue he wore on his face in the latter part of the play. The humour and satire led to a lot of happy moments but the abrupt laughter moments were far and few between.
With plaster of jokes and comedy, the play, however, doesn’t lose hold of its original message. Although the set design, lights and acting complemented the story, background music created a distraction rather than getting along with the scenes. The use of classic Kashmiri words in the dialogues added to the essence of the play. This edition of the play seemingly was supportive of the beati padau, beati bacho.
An emphasis was put on the importance of youth’s awareness and its role in speaking up against the unjust norms of society throughout the play. The slogan Inqilaab aayega, zaroor aayega (the revolution will eventually come) was repeated a few times in the play.
Tike Lal included performances from Yousuf Nowshad, Shahida Alvi, Farooq Adil, Riyaz Anwar, M.Aslam Gunie, Bashir Ahmad Koutroo, Jameela and Hilal Ahmad Mattoo. However, Rashid Shahnaz outshone them all, except Bashir Kotru.
It ended with an introspective epilogue which then led to the song Hum Honge Kaamyaab that was sung by all the actors on the stage, in sort of a chorus. However, a 1984 script being reenacted in 2021 also indicated as if the playwrights and the themes have vanished.