KARACHI: People often complain about the lack of original scripts written in Urdu for the theatre. It’s right, there aren’t many. One of the ways to counter the issue, if it is considered one, is to turn works of fiction into plays. This is where Tehreek-i-Niswan’s attempt at transforming Jamila Hashmi’s short story Sherry for the stage should be commended. The group performed a 50-minute-long drama, written and directed by Anwer Jafri, on Saturday evening as part of the ongoing music and theatre festival organised by the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa).
Sherry tells the tale of a woman (Sheema Kermani/Kaif Ghaznavi) who tries to confront the cruelties, with variable degrees of courage, which life throws at her. The cause of her woes is unrequited love. She has suffered rejection at the hand of a young man (Haris Khan) she felt romantically inclined to. This makes the rest of the relations that she already has or develops along the way wobbly. There are not many moment of mirth in her life.
Then comes something in the story which propels it effectively. There’s a dog, Sherry, liked by the family. Initially it is shown that the protagonist (Sheema/Kaif) isn’t as keen on the pet as other family members, but with the passage of time the dog and her fondness becomes mutual, so much so that her life pivots around the animal.
Her sister (Aisha Maqsood) and mother (Hoori Noorani) are the other two people in her life. She does not always see eye to eye with her sibling. So the dog, in the story, assumes the most important place in her life, which is why the very thought of losing it disturbs her more than anything else.
Sherry is a play which on surface feels like a plain tale of rejection and then seeing life through that prism of refusal. However, there’s strong symbolism involved. Human relationships can never be uncomplicated. The dog provides both a sense of symbiotic relationship that humans look for in their lives in different forms and discusses the concept of love and loyalty in a material world.
While the performance on Saturday was nice, on occasions it was a little disconcerting not to hear clearly the lines that Kaif Ghaznavi said because of the music that accompanied some of the scenes. It was drowning out her voice. Also, one thought that if the narration by Kermani (who did the dual duty of both the narrator and the protagonist) was trimmed down a bit and more dialogue added to the script, it would have helped the gist of the story to be felt with more force.