The play addressed themes such as caste discrimination, social violence and injustice, where respect is denied to a man solely because he belongs to a low caste, while the actual culprit roams free.
Directed by a fresh IBA graduate, Saad Ahmed Qazi, and organized by the dedicated members of ‘Naatak Brigade’ (IBA Dramatics Society), Court Martial tells the story of recruit Ram Chandr who is tried for murdering one of his officers and injuring another. “Court Martial has an exceptionally well-thought out script. It masterfully depicts the caste system prevalent in many Indian institutions, and is also quite relevant to our society. Every little detail has been intelligently considered, and the story has multiple layers”, commented Saad, the director. “It was my ambition to do this play in IBA for a long time. The real challenge for me was to do justice to the original script. With a very young cast, I hoped that it will be a learning experience for both them and me. I’m glad it turned out well.”
Although the play had various interesting characters in the form of guards, lawyers, members of the army and Captains, some of the roles left a lasting impact on the audience. One of these was Col. Soorath Singh, a ruthless Colonel who has witnessed numerous life-and-death situations and does not hesitate to punish the criminals brought to his court. Be it his opening monologue or his dominating gaze, the character, played by a senior at IBA, Irfan Anwar, had the crowd’s attention throughout the performance, and was successful in maintaining suspense till the end. Playing one of the major characters is never an easy task, and according to Irfan, the biggest challenge was to transform his personality into that of one of the toughest army officials.
Another captivating character was Captain Bekash Roy, the defense lawyer played by Hammad Mahmood, who constantly entertained the audience with his witty remarks, leaving the other characters dumbfounded and the spectators laughing uncontrollably. The major challenges faced by Hammad while playing the part were “the variations in voice throw, the element of sarcasm, constant movement on stage, and most importantly, memorizing the script!”
While every performer did justice to their assigned role, Ali Iqbal, who assumed the role of Captain B.D Kapoor, deserves special appreciation for the effort that he managed to put into the play on an incredibly short notice of three days, when another actor had to abandon the play unexpectedly. Ali’s character, too, helped the play achieve poetic justice by committing suicide at the end along with the accused Ram Chandr being sentenced to death.
Bringing a 24-year old play back to life is not an easy task, but the young performers exhibited great talent, and every minute detail, ranging from the cast’s attire to the perfect delivery of the dialogues was well looked after.
Promising to return with another play the following year, the two-day event came to an end on the eve of September 14th, 2015, with the entire cast and crew receiving a standing ovation from the audience, a gesture of appreciation for the tremendous amount of talent that the young students had displayed on the stage.
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