'Heer Waris Shah' Staged By Thespian Dramatic Society at University of Gujrat
Syed Waris Shah is known as the Shakespeare of Punjab. Just as Shakespeare’s plays have captured the socio-cultural heritage of the 16th century English life; Waris Shah has depicted the true ethos of the 18th century Punjabees. In ‘Heer’ Waris shah has laid bare the true paradigms of the Punjabi culture and critiqued the socio-economic, politico-moral matrix of Punjabi feudal society. The representation is true to life and linguistic structures replay the action. Characters are life-like and are identified as such. The plot construction is structured on recurrent themes pervading our socio-cultural existence. Our values, mores, customs and traditions; the whole whirligig of times is dramatically and artistically conjured up in Waris Shah’s magnum opus. It is like a mirror in which Punjabis can see their true Colours: Jealousy among brothers, brothers wives’ taunts and jeers of brothers-in-law, orthodoxy and shortsightedness of religious priests (mull-as), feudal hierarchy of dominance and exploitation of the weak and the downtrodden, forced marriages contracted by the officials (qazis) for a few chips, the influentials like Saida Khera encroaching upon the beloveds of the weak and powerless, shrewdness of women like Sehti, and evil genius like Kaido; are the archetypal themes, values and characters of pristine Punjabi culture. The characters we come across in Heer are the real wayside characters living their lives in a Punjabi society.
‘Heer’ is more of a realistic description of true consciousness of women than a mere romantic tale. It is because of these social realities that the Thespian Dramatic Society of the UOG staged this play before the Academic Block in the UOG. Well known writer and dramatist Munoo Bhai was the Chief Guest whereas Prof Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin Vice Chancellor UOG presided over the dramatic event. Brigadier Taimoor Afzal Khan and Mrs Jehan Ara Nizam were guests of honour. Under the leadership of Syed Shabeer Hussain Shah Patron of the society and Ms Mussarat Alvi Chief Coordinator; Umer Bin Sarwar president and Aisha Siddiqa Vice president of the society along with their team set the stage in Punjabi colours and decorum, speaking volumes of the aesthetic sensibilities of the management. Welcome address was made by Ms Mussarat Alvi. She spelled out the rationale for selection of Heer, as a prototype play of Punjabi ethos and culture. When the performance started, it had a mesmeric effect upon the audience. The spectators in thousands were bewitched by the acting, costumes and dialogues of the actors and actresses. The scene wise display of the story had a strong grip and emotional impact on the audience. On the sideline the rendering of original verse of Waris Shah created a rhythmical cum poetical effect on the spectators. Waris Shah’s effusions of subtle feelings and emotions studded with jewels of proverbial folk wisdom inspired the drama fans. Now Punjab and Punjabi culture was simulated in earnest and the dramatic simulacra went straight into the hearts and minds of the viewers.
The central focal character of the paly is the revolting Heer. Other characters even Ranjha are foils to highlight the daring bravura and razzle-dazzle of her charismatic personality. Heer’s defiance of feudal authorities of all hues and colours is the female resistance to male chauvinism perpetuated on the base of property relations. Kaido represents the traditional subject who is well tuned up to the oppressive, exploitative relations generated by undemocratic feudal mores. Sehti’s defiance and successful elopement with the man of her choice contrasts and gravitates the tragic destiny of Heer. The theme brought home is feminist, which cries out for identity and dignity and rejects the arbitrary subjugation of women. Zainab Bibi, Mohsin Cheema, Hafizur Rehman, Feroze Jameel, Umer Ghumman, Mehak, Fazeen, Faryad, Naila Ishtiaq, Shahid Imran, Ihtishman Munawar, Ayaz Ahmed, Raja Siraj Muneer, Sabeeh-ur-Rehman, Farwa Shah, Sehrish Afzal, Ali Raza, Arslan Munawar, Abu Bakr Faiz, Hamad Gujjar were able to make their mark in playacting the story. At the end of the stage play Syed Shabeer Hussain Shah announced the determination of Thespian Dramatic Society to stage one classic play in a semester.
The Chief Guest Munnoo Bhai himself a drama writer and technically very close to dramaturgy attested the premier quality of the show in all its aspects. He congratulated the players and the managers for their very successful and effective venture. Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Mohammad Nizamuddin in his speech extolled the immaculate performance of the actors and congratulated the society for their exuberant stage performance. He picked up the thematic structure of the play as a representation of revolt against the moribund values of feudal order, perpetuated by naked force, coercion and brutality. This apparently bitter vociferous revolt is couched in soft colorful romance to make it palatable to swallow. Dr Azhar Chaudhary, Rashadulla Butt and Dr Waseem Gardezi constituted the jury and declared Umer Ghumman performing Saida Khera as the best actor, whereas Zainab Bibi playacting Heer was declared as the best actress. Later on Zohaib Khawar, Khafazur Rehman and Dr Azher Chaudhry titillated the audience with their rendering of Waris Shah’s poetry. UOG’s efforts under the leadership of Dr Nizamuddin to exude Punjabi Culture through arts is exceptional. After having said all that one muses as to the culture of forced marriages is still very prevalent in our social order. But alas there is no Waris Shah left to conjure.
Heers of today wail in love’s way
Ranjhans flirt and betray
Rare legends are cast astray
No Waris left to portray