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A laugh out riot

A laugh out riot
Written by Omair Alavi

Meri Shadi, Meri Marzi, the latest play presented by Stage Nomad Production, mixes humour, wit, and pop culture references so well that it makes you laugh your head off

There are two kinds of theatre plays popular in Pakistan, those that make you aware of your surroundings and those that make you go hysterical. Stage Nomad Production’s Meri Shadi Meri Marzi does both, as it uses relatable situations as the plot, and makes you laugh out loud with its mesmerizing characters, interesting situations, and pop culture references that never go old. Once you enter the theatre, there is no going back because whatever is going on stage keeps you glued to your seats, making you wonder how things will end for the lead couple.

The Plot

In a traditional middle-class household, a retired Shujaat lives with his immediate family – elder mother, daughter, and sister – but can do nothing at home without the approval of his eldest brother Babloo Bhai who sends them money regularly from abroad. When Shujaat’s only daughter Pakeeza (Wafa Sohail) falls in love with their tenant Imtiaz, everyone seems to be happy, until another brother Wasif arrives with his and his elder brother’s kids. What happens next results in hilarious situations after one of the kids of the financier also falls in love with Pakeeza and uses the entire household to help him in his quest to finally become a groom.

The Good

Meri Shadi Meri Marzi is the brainchild of Ashar Naeem who must be commended for writing something that is fresh, relatable, and original. The way he has scripted the comedy play from our surroundings and kept it non-vulgar is appreciable. What he did was create characters that we usually see around us and put them in situations from which it’s very hard to escape. Each and every character – from Pakeeza, Imtiaz, Mama Rashid, Bobby, Guddu, Maham, Ghazanfar, and Shakeela – represents an important part of our daily lives and takes the audience on a fun ride they will never forget.

Everything from Izza Waseem’s set design to music and lighting is in tune with Faheem Azam’s direction; the way a flashback was executed on stage was mighty impressive considering the director used his brains instead of following traditional steps. The play wouldn’t have been possible without social media which unknowingly helped the writer and the director, big time. They got inspired by all the memes, catchphrases, and one-liners available online, mixed them together, and threw them on a stage, in the form of a comedy play and let the actors do the rest. Not only does their execution make the audience go hysterical, but it also doesn’t let the audience move away from their seats for its entire duration.

After incorporating some of the famous catchphrases from our national leaders including Ghabrana Nahi Hai, and Main Nahi Manta, the writer lets the characters carry the play which they do well. Although it was Wafa Sohail’s first play as an actress, she doesn’t let anyone realize that she is a newbie and carries the play on her own shoulders. Zohair Zubair’s Imtiaz comes out as her knight in shining armour as does his own mama Rashid (Noman Rauf) who pleads his case when the need arises. However, it is Adnan Aziz’s Guddu who plays the sweet antagonist but has the best lines, the best catchphrases, and the best expressions making him the darling of the crowd for the play’s entire duration.

Sabiha Zia as Dadi, Usama Saleem, and Asadullah Chattha as her sons Shujaat and Wasif and Areej Hussain as daughter Shakeela can be found in every household because while one of them is indecisive all the time, the other is always with a plan, and the mother and the sister go with the one who can afford them. The next generation comprising Usman Hidayat, Eshah Shakeel, and Haris Khan also make their presence felt, as do Arzu Javed and Husnain Falak in very important cameos.

The Bad

First of all, the play revolved more around the antagonist than the protagonist, who seemed to slip away from time to time, for no reason. Secondly, the duration of the play was past 120 minutes, which is too much even for a feature film these days, let alone a stage play. If the writer Ashar Naeem and director Faheem Azam are able to cut the play down to somewhere between 90 and 105 minutes, it might help both the performers and the audience. Also, the dance sequences also broke the tempo of the story, which would have done well without it.

Although the makeup by Simi YJ and the costumes by Tahir were spot on and fitted the cast perfectly, there were a few malfunctions where a couple of actors were dressed in their night suits during a festive occasion. Also, at times when the audience burst into laughter, the actors continued delivering their dialogues which made some of the people in the audience (the ones at the back) miss a few dialogues.

The Verdict 3/5

This may be Stage Nomad Productions’ eighth commercial play, but it’s their first since Covid-19. After a four-day and six-show run at the Pakistan Arts Council in Karachi, they plan to return with Meri Shadi Meri Marzi at New Year’s, hoping to cross 150 performances across Pakistan’s major cities. The soft launch was, however, quite impressive and if they manage to cut down the duration to less than two hours, and fix a handful of glitches, they might do well when it goes to cities like Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, and Peshawar in the next quarter.

The characters are as good as written in gold, and are quite relatable, and with these two qualities combined, the result is always destructive, in a hilariously constructive way. None of the actors left their characters despite the play being more than two hours long, and for that, the director Faheem Azam must be commended. The producers hope to take the play abroad as well, after Ramadan, and if they make minor adjustments here and there, who knows they might go international in a big way. -Ends

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Omair Alavi

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