Following tremendous success with his last play Lost Control, Saiban abandoned the moody, dark comedy-filled material to come up with something completely new. Sir Kalam is an adaptation of the work by award-winning writer Mansoor Kalam, who has made his mark in the drama and film industries with his strong, opinionated works.
In Saiban’s depiction, a dual storyline is portrayed, which occurs simultaneously using mime. The play presents a satirical and humorous yet staggeringly blunt portrayal of a writer struggling in today’s materialistic entertainment industry, where consumerism trumps artistic creativity. Sarcasm is at the core of Sir Kalam’s character, who despite being a creative and honest writer, is compelled to favor monetary gain over quality, artistic work. Egged on by his manager Imtaiz, Mansoor Kalam proceeds to pen three stereotypical screen stories for high-paying clients, namely the saas bahu drama, the romantic comedy film and the highly biased but patriotic hero-villain saga. In an alternate storyline, Captain Ehtisham – a fan of Sir Kalam’s – pens his memoirs to the burgeoning writer every day, beseeching him to write the truth about his struggles and endeavors. As the play progresses, Capt. Ehtisham meets a terrible fate, which jogs some sense into Sir Kalam, and although the latter heeds the call, it is too late to retreat on the impression, fame and formula that Sir Kalam has perfected to become a successful author in the entertainment industry.
The story contains quite a few surprises and twists. Fortunately, Kalam’s sentimental touch is not lost in Saiban’s depiction. In fact, his writing travels through the mind of another artist in a more humorous manner to tackle topics such as the local entertainment industry, as well as relating to modern-day predicaments faced by the audience due to the influx of media sources in recent years.
The play pioneers the art of role-playing in a completely re-invented manner. The alternating storylines work side by side to capture a unique aspect of contemporary Pakistani culture, and a society that has become hypocritical in many ways. The characters play multiple roles alongside numerous set and costume changes to bring out the strong message of the play, critiquing consumer-oriented media and deteriorating entertainment values.
Traditional to his on-stage methodology, Saiban uses extensive lighting, choreography and subtle humour to get his point across to the spectators. The Insane team, which once comprised only a few students, has truly blossomed into a professional unit with excellent chemistry.
Sir Kalam completed its five-day stint in the capital on 5th June, but will continue its tour of Pakistan, travelling south to Lahore and eventually Karachi. The play has already attracted widespread attention and is making heads turn in the media industry, giving hope to new entrants in the field to choose unique topics that aren’t openly addressed in our society.
Sir Kalam is a thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining ride. Alluring dances, startling plot twists and a satirical take on Pakistan’s entertainment industry ensured that when the curtains fell, no one in the audience left disappointed.
All images have been provided by ‘The Insane Productions’.
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