Theatre play: Tum Kaun at NAPA Festival

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Peerzada Salman

Usually, artists explore identity issues in a heavy-handed manner. This lends a philosophical air to the message which more often than not ends up obfuscating the matter rather than elucidating it.

But not on Saturday, when a cast of Indian and Pakistani actors put up a theatrical piece titled Tum Kaun at the fourth National Academy of Performing Arts Theatre Festival.

They kept the tone of the theme light, because the subject was: how children of India-Pakistan parentage cope with problems that are more of a social construct than human reality. And it worked for them.

Directed by Ashok Kumar and Zain Ahmed, Tum Kaun begins with Meeral (Aiman Tariq) packing her bags to reach Karachi from Canada to attend her friend Rabab’s (Shabana) wedding. Her father, Imran (Gurinder Kumar), hails from Karachi and mother (Bakhtawar Mazhar) belongs to Delhi. Upon knowing that Meeral is going to Karachi, her mother gets jittery, giving away the first signs of the iffy India-Pakistan notions about one another, whereas the father wants his daughter to go.

Landing in Karachi proves to be a mixed affair for Meeral as Rabab, who is to get married to a Delhite, Adil (Vavulu Gupta), has cold feet because she hasn’t met the groom-to-be. Here Meeral meets Sidharth (Ashok Kumar), a friend of Adil, and develops a relationship with him. She tells him that Rabab is having second thoughts about the marriage to which Sidharth says that he’ll try and convince both Rabab and his friend Adil in Delhi to tie the knot.

The setting shifts to Delhi where Adil’s character is introduced, and a few others, including Karthik (Sunil), who is a bit of a show-off. The story moves forward, with the help of some light-hearted scenes, which involves a dance sequence, and the story moves forward.

The idea of Tum Kaun was worthy enough to be worked on. It was more than obvious that its makers didn’t have enough time to present it the way they would’ve ideally liked. And yet, to the credit of actors, directors and whoever penned the script (because there was uncertainty about the writer), it had some very engaging moments.

One such moment was when Adil meets Karthik, who is flirting with a waitress (Sahiba Vij). Karthik’s assertion that Adil has a Toba Tek Singh mental condition, implying he should do exactly the opposite of what he’s wishing for, was a very smart insertion in the script. The reference to Saadat Hasan Manto’s story (even if it was not intended) on the horrors of partition did not go unnoticed.

Peerzada Salman, “Karachi-Delhi-Karachi ,” in Dawn, March 30, 2015. Accessed on March 30, 2015, at:

The item above written by Peerzada Salman and published in Dawn on March 30, 2015, is catalogued here in full by Faiz-e-Zabaan for non-profit educational purpose only. Faiz-e-Zabaan neither claims the ownership nor the authorship of this item. The link to the original source accessed on March 30, 2015, is available here. Faiz-e-Zabaan is not responsible for the content of the external websites.

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