- Posted on: July 05, 2013 | Comments
The PNCA hall was jam packed when Madeeha Gauhar, the Director and Producer of Ajoka Theater addressed the audience, explaining that Kari was part of their portfolio on street theatre, performed in the rural areas of Pakistan, and therefore was only one hour long. She distinguished it from the more cerebral variety of plays like Manto and Faiz, also produced by Ajoka and performed at PNCA last spring. She said that the main purpose of their street theatre is to raise awareness, and with that purpose in mind, Kari was sponsored by CAMP, or Community Appraisal and Motivation Program.
The play, with sublime music and voice of Kamran and Thomas Khokhar, is a frontal attack on the evil practice of kari or honour killing of women. As a social evil, kari ranks with sati; while the British eradicated sati in the 18th and 19th centuries, but we in Pakistan are still struggling against kari. But if the enthusiastic response of the audience was anything to go by, the issue has been brought into the limelight and exposed as an abomination that must be excoriated from our society.
The play focuses on the lives of five women who are being made scapegoats in the name of kari, to cover for the murder committed by one of the influential villagers. Three of these women are middle aged and a flashback into their past reveals how they have suffered because of the feudal and patriarchal system in which a woman is no better than a chattel. It is also an attack on the panchayat, the village jury system, and with what ease it can be manipulated to serve vested interests.
The play ends on an upbeat note, because the young girl likely to be made kari, escapes with the young village boy that she wants to marry, with the help of the other women. There is a hint that the couple stands a chance of starting a new life in an urban area, away from the suffocating atmosphere of the village.
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