Introspection & Rumination - A Theatre Review by Kay S

 A Theatre Review – Jiss Ne Lahore Nai Dekhiya by Kay S

“Let the borders be outside, not inside.” Abhijit Naskar, Author

The remnants of humanity and human relationships live on to raise its ugly hood, resonating, and at times transporting us through books, plays, or a movie into a zone of eternal bliss where there is camaraderie, brotherhood and unity that still exists. We as human beings are a flawed race to be frank, and the sooner we accept this fact, the better off we will be and endeavor to at least attain a semblance of being a better version of ourselves.  This thought seemed to echo in my mind, heart, and soul at the highest decibel it ever could as I watched the play, “Jiss Ne Lahore Nai Dekhiya” written by playwright Asghar Wajahat, directed by Zafer Mohiuddin of Kathputliyaan Theatre Group.  I have been so touched deep in my soul by the storyline, the underlying message.  The impeccable performances of the actors who were par excellence carrying each of their roles with panache was such that it left a deep imprint on my mind and heart, which I doubt will be erased for a long, long time or probably never at all.  Here’s my humble review and thoughts on what I saw, felt, and understood from my experience.

The play started with so much energy with protests of the formation of partition and the depiction of people moving listlessly across borders aimlessly trying to find an unknown destination that was alien to them, which set the tune to what was to ensue – the aftermath of a partition of a land that divided a people and a nation. The show was staged at Alliance Francaise de Bangalore on February 27th & 28th, 2021 and as someone who watched all the four shows like the proverbial fly on the wall, I must say I was overwhelmed and moved to such an extent that I was bawling uncontrollably through all the shows.  To state that this brilliantly staged play was a tear-jerker that shook the souls of each one of us who watched it in myriad ways, evoking reactions that were surreal yet magnified in more ways than one would be an understatement.

If the Mohajir family (as the immigrants are called) that moved from Lucknow consisting of Sikandar Mirza, his wife and two children displayed the helplessness and hopelessness of being displaced in an alien land; the old woman who played Ratan ki Maa fondly called, “Mai” shook your soul through her despondent state of affairs yet positive resilience in her character laced with her kindness in helping each and every one irrespective of religion or status touched your inner consciousness of humanity. The sheer greediness and displaced loyalty clubbed with evil fervor of the Pahelwaan displayed the existence of unreasonable hypocrisy and prejudice laced with pure lack of empathy, while the presence of mind, knowledge, depth of understanding, acceptance of a mankind with its flaws, respect for religions, and non-judgmental attitude of Nasir Kazmi, the famous poet stole the limelight.  While the role of the Maulvi evoked hidden emotions and respect for an oft-misunderstood religion shedding light on the everlasting teachings of every religion that teaches humanity, respect of every human being and acceptance of everyone is more important than being divided on basis of religion, the slow transition of emotions with budding relationship and bonding between Mirza’s family and Mai brought about the feeling of ecstatic happiness. The supporting roles of Aleem at the Tea Stall, the children of the Mirza, the tangewala, the Pahelwaan’s sidekicks, each and every one of them portrayed their roles with such élan that you would surprised to know 90% of them were non-Urdu non-Punjabi speaking actors who held professional jobs of their own and were pursuing their passion.  The amount of work that has gone into the making of this play was evident in the way it was presented to the audience.  If I say that I am extremely proud of each one of you to a limit that is unfathomable and unexplainable, I would not be wrong. This play was a need of the hour for the younger generations that only are aware of bits of pieces of history to portray and educate them on how this amazing culture of ours, a nation that was the greatest in the world became a victim of divisive forces of the West who succeeded in their endeavor to break our foundation through a misleading injection of thoughts and education into an entire race to shake them from their roots.

One of the most difficult things about theatre is that it does not continue.  Theatre brilliantly depicts unknown, unseen, unheard of facts and tales and has the ability to represent the experiences of humans in the most subtle yet expressive way depending on who directs them.  It lets a collection of human beings go through the process and then allows everyone to experience it.  That is the beauty and sadness of it as it is not everlasting, but it leaves either a good or bad taste to remember for a long time and may even evoke the need to internalize, to evaluate oneself, their belief system, their outlook of the world around them, and their ways of life.  “Jiss Ne Lahore Nai Dekhiya” did just that, but to say that it was only a minute representation of an entire gamut of vast injustice that was thrust upon a people, a nation, and a culture due to the sheer greed for power succumbing to the vulgar politics of a Western force would not be far lesser from the truth. We have always heard there are two sides to a story, but this story of partition has millions, each belonging to a human being that was destroyed, plundered, ransacked emotionally, physically, and socially.  When empathy and wisdom loses ground with prejudice taking over a nation, its people, and its culture, there is nothing but an immense decline of humanity leading to an eventual decimation of belief, trust, camaraderie and brotherhood amongst its people.  This was evidently jumping out of every scene during this play. The icing on the cake was the brilliant live background scores that were rendered with such ardor throughout with each song picked carefully with lyrics resonating in your mind to stir your soul as though a tsunami just came in contact with your inner being.

The scenes of the death of the old woman, the killing of the Maulvi, the ensuing funeral conducted as per Mai’s religion, Nasir Kazmi’s brilliant poetry rendered with panache, and many instances such as these made this play so dear to me as I am sure to many of you so much that I hope this will travel lands to ensure the message of humanity, Unity, and brotherhood is spread to preserve a land and race.  This is a gift for future generations that can appreciate and thank us for leaving behind rather than lament and blame us for the destruction of the same, which is bound to happen if we do not wake up and read the writing on the wall. I could go on and on and probably write an epic about my experience because that is how deeply I have been touched by the storyline, the direction, the depiction, the acting, and the overall presentation of “Jiss Ne Lahore Nai Dekhiya,” however, since we all have the paucity of time, I leave you with a thought by Abhijit Naskar, Author of Time to End Democracy who aptly stated, “Borders on the maps are not the problem, borders in our heart are.” So, let’s not create borders in art, music, & literature and instead use it to unite a human race. Be Kind to one another, All!  You never know when all of us will need each other and let’s be clear that the last journey of our life requires at least four people to carry our hearse.  Let’s earn affection, kindness, and blessings in turn spreading the message of love, tolerance, and co-existence as much as we can in our own homes and lives.  More importantly, let parenting take the responsibility of building a nation by raising children with qualities to be envious about and not despised for.  Kudos to Zafer Mohiuddin Saab for the outstanding direction of this play, great appreciation and bouquets to Alliance Française de Bangalore for sponsoring and staging this show; and my heartfelt gratitude to the playwright Asghar Wajahat Sir for writing this amazingly soul-stirring play.  My heartfelt congratulations to the entire artists and crew of Kathputliyaan Theatre Group for a brilliant show rendered with unmatchable panache and élan.  Take a bow, All!  So proud of you all and love you all to bits and pieces.  I have no words in my brain’s dictionary to aptly praise each and every one of you for delivering a classic piece that will remain in the heart and soul of everyone who saw it.  I do hope there will be more shows in the coming days. Good luck to all of you! Keep soaring in the skies above the clouds like the eagles that you are.

Director: Zafer Mohiuddin

Asst Directors: Maahir Mohiuddin/Pranati Sahni

CAST: Manmeet Singh  as Khabri, Ashish Athawle & Venkatesh as Sikandar Mirza; Mimansa Ojha and Dilshad Master as Hameeda Begum; Archana Kumar & Tarani Jindal as Tanno; Amit Kalra as Javed; Minti Jain & Suresh Sharma as “Mai” Ratan ki Maa; Ankit, Aniruddh Roy, & Ganesh Pai as Clerks; Arjun Bharadwaj & Snehith Gowda as Pahelwaan; Ganesh Pai as Anwar; Yogank Sharma as Fayaz; Abdul Razak as Razaa; Ankit Desai & Bhavanishankar Desai as Aleem; Aniruddh Roy & Maahir Mohiuddin as Nasir Kazmi; Sumit Acharya & Abhinav Pandey as Maulvi; Nishant Bali & Nitesh Verma as Hameed; Dr. Kavita & Khusboo; Begum Hidayat; Merita Shantharaj as Saheli; S A Samad as Mohammed Shah.

Backstage: Adnan Ahmed Khan/Affam Sadiq/Keerthi Sana/Manmeet Singh/Rakhee Pai/Drishti Jain/Kowsar Nawaz

Lights: Pradeep Belawadi

Sound: (Nick) Nishant/Shine Santosh

Makeup: Uma Maheshwara (Ummi)

Set Design: Zafer Mohiuddin/Syed Ishaaq Kazi

Set Execution: Jayram

Punjabi Language Coach/Costumes: Daya Kaur

Background Singer: Peeraa Singh




  1. Amazing ,thought provoking, emotional writing Kavita!!!loved it
    Feeling blessed to hv sooo much affection n applause for our is d hard work of director n his super talented team!!!!
    Hw he used to guide us for a minute mistake ..that resulted into a phenomenal play..thanks kavi for sharing ur thoughts in such a bful andaz!!!!

    1. Thank you so much. Doing my bit....a squirrel's service for theatre and all your efforts ❣️❣️❣️


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