by Mehru N Nisa
SRINAGAR: It was Vutre Bunul that marked the beginning of the Annual Drama Festival at Tagore Hall, Srinagar. Vutre Bunul is a peculiar Kashmir word that has a vast meaning but is associated with turmoil. Kashmir’s most known playwright, Sajood Sailani, who passed last year, writes the play. Farhat Sidiqi directed the theatre play.
The story is about a couple – Maala (played by Farhat Sidiqi) and Noora (Jan Majroo), living a simple village life with their three children Sule (Master Zuhaib), Gule (Master Muntar) and a daughter who is only mentioned in the play but is absent from the stage. The plot follows the family’s everyday life and the struggles they face daily.
The story starts in the morning with Maala making the tea on the clay stove. Seemingly a good effort has gone into the creation of the set that had a typical village ambience to it with clay stove, a small house with thatched roof and utensils on it and dried vegetables hanging on the walls, a peculiarity of the peripheral Kashmir homes in the autumn.
Although Vutre Bunul is a comedy-drama, it hints towards some serious issues along the way. Noor and Maala are shown arguing and fighting over trivial matters at least thrice in the play, which received chortles from the audience.
Once, while they are fighting, Noor even breaks the clay utensils and his hookah in rage following which Maala cries and Noor starts taunting her. Everything put aside, what lay beneath the surface of comedy and humour was the impact these arguments have on the children – a topic which is not often talked about.
During one of the fights, their sons – Sule and Gule come home after collecting fuel-wood and as soon as they see their parents quarrelling, they start crying and wailing. When asked the reason for doing so, they unanimously say, “Tueh kyazi dohy ladaei karaan?” (Why do you always fight?) Most of the times, people ignore what effect these quarrels have on their children and sometimes because of either parent’s anger, a child has to face the brunt of the situation.
Sule and Gule also start fighting once over the quantity of firewood collected and call each other names, because home remains the first school of a kid. The play ends with a clash between the couple when Maala’s brothers – Sohraab (Gulfam Barji) and Rostum (M. Irfan Hajni) – come to visit her and she tells them about the daily brawls and squabbles. The brothers get angry and confront Noor, which is again a comic sequence because of Sohraab being partially deaf and him mishearing Noor’s dialogues. The curtains fell on Noor smashing the household things screaming “be hy gowsy pagal” (I have gone crazy) and Maala crying.
Vutre Bunul even had two ladishah performances by Javed Ahmad and included performances from Malik Mushtaq, Tanveer Dar and Shahid Radwani.