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Citizen Voices

‘Yeh Jamhooriyat Hai’ a Drama Authored by Amina Mufti

It was somewhere in the mid-March when I received a call from LBS (Lahore Business School) that they had intended to hold a seminar, addressing the current political conditions of our country. The seminar promised on the afternoon of March 28 was supposed to incite a discussion through some set of dialogues by the title ‘Democracy: Strengthening through Renaissance’ organised by Centre for Sustainable Policy and Development (CSDP).

At the end of the dialogue they planned to perform a canonical drama ‘Yeh Jamhooriyat Hai’ authored by Amina Mufti. This drama was the culmination of the ongoing dialogues on a thought provoking note as Hussain A Durrani, the organiser, stated.

Durrani is a perfectionist by nature. He wanted the drama to be performed in a befitting manner and selected Dead Arts Society (DAS) to share his responsibilities.

Dr Nausheen Ishaque, besides being an associate professor at the Department of English Language and Literature, also serves DAS as a patron-in-chief. So the responsibility of performing ‘Yeh Jamhooriyat Hai’ befell on Dr Nausheen’s shoulders which she took as a challenge. So our journey of enacting an amazing piece of literature began.

The very first reading of the drama left me in an utter state of awe; the drama despite of its simple language communicates the greater agendas so forcefully. It is a one act symbolic play and doesn’t take more than ten minutes’ reading, but leaves a lifelong impact on the reader.

Amna Mufti is a celebrated writer of current times and a woman rights activist too. She by writing this drama has done a plausible effort of teaching even a mediocre reader (like me) the evolution of democracy emerging from cave civilisation to the present day.  The story line was simple, a female character named ‘Jamhooriyat’ – worshipped by the early human beings as a goddess – is presented as a tragic hero in the drama.

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Jamhooriyat is beautiful and runs the state by the consent of people and values their demands, one faithful and selfless politician helps her. A mean and selfish antagonist named ‘Amir’ (dictator) tries to take hold of the state but fails in his every effort till a business man named ‘Munafiq’ (hypocrite) helps him. Eventually they both succeed in killing the politician and abduct ‘Jamhooriyat’. At the end ‘Jamhooriyat’ is seen in a miserable captive state as the dictator and the hypocrite politician mistreat her.

Mufti has beautifully narrated the current situation of democracy which is being used and mutilated by those in power. Every time we see politicians rising with different manifestoes and by raising slogans, they give hope to the innocent public and once in power they become corrupt. And by impersonating as a saviour, they manipulate their authority.

We keenly debate on the administrative procedures of our government.  We read about political procedures today and participate in them too.  The vote-based system in its most perfect structure that the world has seen is the reason of social unrest so often. So the question arises that the system of democracy is in its evolution or it’s a mean of facilitating those who fill their pockets through it.

Amina Mufti is a great thinker she raises question like these by adding her forceful voice into her creative work. Unlike the most of the best seller of the current times, she doesn’t write love stories where a desperate beautiful lady is in search of a rich brat. Her characters hold a symbolic significance, their action speak fiercer than their words.

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Performing the play in the span of one-and-a-half week was not at all an easy task.  Apparently four major characters were required who had to practice few dialogues. But searching committed people who won’t shy away on the stage in front of the audience was a nerve-testing quest.

For the opening of the play, a dancer was arranged whose dance symbolised the times of festivity in the prehistoric times. Then the verbal fight of Jamhooriyat with the Amir was followed by an inspiring song in the soulful voice of our super talented Kamran. The drama ended on the dance too but it was the dance of Jamhooriyat under captivity which lacked the grace and freedom. Writer’s note in the end summed up the drama which had a mocking tone, mocking the audience for being silent in front of injustice and oppression.

It was an honour to perform in front of the writer. And her encouraging comments were all I could desire after investing that much energy in the performance. At the end, I congratulate the University of Lahore for supporting such events. Through these informative plus entertaining ventures, the university is on the way of success in every field.

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