Siachen (The Play)

To the uninitiated, Siachen is a disputed and un-demarcated region located in the Karakoram mountain range. It was the sight of a battle between Pakistan and India, that began in 1984 until a ceasefire was declared in 2003. It’s famously known as the highest battleground on planet earth, at a height of 6000 metres (20,000 feet). Approximately 2000 people have died, due to the extreme hazardous weather and mountainous warfare.

Siachen, the play, is based on the lives of several Pakistani army men who are stationed in the glacier region. Anwar Maqsood, the brilliant writer who penned the drama, has excelled in all ways with this play. Throughout the play, you will witness the typical sense of humour from Maqsood ranging from politics to pop culture to the Western world.

Before the play begins, we are all enveloped in the dark hall, where spotlight are shown on all the soldiers who are leaving their loved ones behind to go to Siachen. There is a sense of morbidity and gloom, which quickly gives way to the opening scene, marking a shift tonally.

The curtain opens up with the men at their camp, having a shouting match with the Indians across the border. They argue over cricket, something that unites the two nations more than anything else. It’s a fun banter between the two nations, and we are very quickly acquainted with all the men on stage. These are men who are living lonely lives in the dangerous region, where it’s extremely cold. We get to follow their lives: their homesickness, their loneliness, their fears and their pride of being soldiers fighting for their country.

We get to see how they pass time: play cards, fight with one another, support one another, have an occasional banter with the Indians. It’s only when an Indian soldier stumbles across into the Pakistani region that the play becomes more fun. With the Indian solider trying to save his skin by pretending to be a Pakistani, we are exposed to the witty dialogues making us chuckle out loud. A highlight being when the Indian soldier is asked to name the Pakistani Prime Minister, his reply is Modi Mian Muhammad Raheel Sharif!

However, it is when the female journalist from BBC comes in, that proves to be the weakest element in the show. It was a struggle to hear as she was soft spoken and so we missed out one some of the jokes. However, the whole idea with the inclusion of the journalist was to allow Anwar Maqsood to drive home a point about the bias in the Western media.

I won’t get into the ending of the show, but it was a rather touching and emotion moment. At the end of the day, we have men up there in one of the coldest regions on the planet, fighting for their country. It’s definitely a moment that makes a patriot Pakistani very proud, as was evident with the thunderous applause from the audience at the end of the climax.

The acting by everyone was generally very commendable, but it was the few central characters- Musa Khan, the Indian soldier and Major sb- that stood out from the rest. I absolutely loved the talent from the newcomers that were on display. I definitely left the hall feeling very proud of being a Pakistani, for the play does have that effect on you: it reaffirms your identity of being a patriot Pakistani.

The play will end on 15th May 2016, so make sure to watch the show if you can.

5 out 5

PS. Post drama, we had some awesome burgers at Ministry of Burgers!

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