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Published in Pakistan Observer (8 Feb. 2011)
ISLAMABAD: Yasra Rizvi’s play “Diary” enchanted the audiences of the twin cities throughout the week as the play was staged at Pakistan National Council of the Arts from February 2-7. The reality-based play aimed to preserve the language and the cultural heritage of Urdu was well-received and attracted a large number of theater lovers of the city.
Diary is an original Urdu stage play written and directed by Yasra Rizvi, and based on her own life. The play presented by Gravity Productions was inspired by the teachings of Ameer Khusro – musician, scholar, poet and an iconic figure in the cultural history of the Indo-Pak subcontinent.
Diary was the story of a woman who must lose all touch with reality and the outside world before she could forgive herself and hope to be forgiven by others for unintentionally choosing love over life. It resounds deeply with anyone facing the dilemma of having to pick between the material and the meaningful – what one ought to do and what one wanted.
According to Rizvi, the play depicts the route one has to take to achieve closure and the choice one has to make between passion and responsibility. The play is set in Karachi during 1997, encasing the beginning of a new era. Internet, making inroads into society at the time, was forcing people to change and this is what Rizvi is trying to capture in her play.
“A lot of productions nowadays cater to the young and savvy. There is not much available for the older generations,” said Rizvi. “This play targets the audience that loved Pakistani drama during the 80’s and the 90’s,” added Rizvi, a playwright, actress and director working with theatre since 2004.
One major aim of the play is to preserve the language and cultural heritage of Urdu. That is why Rizvi, a graduate of Westin Michigan University, draws upon Khusro for inspiration. Live musicians recited Khusro’s poetry and classical dance were incorporated into the performance to add a cultural zest to the event. The crowd seemed delighted with Saima Khushnood’s dances on compositions of Nahid Akhtar’s “Chaap Tilak” and “Allah”, sung live by Shahida Kiran.
The performances of the veteran actors Gul Mazhar, Suleman and Fahim Azam were greatly appreciated by the audience. Yasira Rizvi’s role as Veera – desperate for love and approval that her husband withheld and Mohsin Ejaz as Mansoor overwhelmed the audiences, who considered this as one of the best stage performances in recent times. Lighting and set design were perfect for display of performers, while the sound excellent and the quality of musical selections were also quite pleasing.