Pakistani Showbiz

Madya not Medya—media through the lens of satire

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KARACHI: Improvisational theatre was the offering at the second day of the Napa-I am Karachi Theatre and Music Series. Presented by the theatrical group Zahrss, the play called Madya not Medya, depicted, through satire, what is shown in the media, and the manner in which it controls the trajectory of our thoughts, views and opinions.

This allowed for an hour and a half of witty anecdotes, with the play subverting stereotypes and mocking society at large for the course it is hell-bent on taking.

Performing various skits that encompass the “mad media”, the comic depiction of each situation was two-fold. Humour was used to present otherwise graphic occurrences in the country to entertain but the message was not lost regarding the seriousness of taking action against such incidents. Be it the state of the railway department, or poverty’s ability to wreck havoc on lives, the audience was bombarded with instances of state apathy, incompetence and overall a general disregard for the lives in the country.

Despite the audience thoroughly enjoying the show, there were many things that needed to be dealt with in a more mature manner. In an attempt to bring to light issues such as sexual harassment faced by women and the state of the marginalised community of homosexuals, the script would have benefited with being more nuanced and subtle instead of in your face and possibly offensive to some. Though the thought behind tackling such issues was clearly proactive, care must be taken when weaving humour with such delicate issues as it may end up doing more harm than good.

However, the aim of the series to reclaim public spaces within Karachi is turning out to be quite a ride. Young talent is emerging with much confidence and the hard work of these young actors, directors and writers is being given the space they yearn to flourish.

With Zahrss, director Zakiullah Khan was much grateful for the opportunity extended by Napa to his crop of young actors and none left any stone unturned to present the best show they possibly could. Special mention to Misbah Qureshi who managed to claim the stage in the midst of an all-male, and a very talented cast.

However, Arshad Malik was decidedly the shining star of the night. It takes a lot of talent to pull off so many avatars and he managed each with ease.

“Peace, tolerance, hope, discipline, unity, pride and ownership” were just some of the themes that were presented in the humourous skits. One that rallied throughout was the need of a revolution in the country and how this idea has been sold to us by self-serving politicians, through the media. Everybody wants a revolution in the country, everybody is willing to give it to the people but when asked about what all a revolution entails, not one is aware of its implications or the sacrifices it requires.

One particular scene played on the sentiments of all those present. In the wake of a tragic bomb blast, how the authorities concerned are shown to underplay the seriousness of the attack on unsuspecting civilians and under-report casualties. Victims and their families are awarded monetary compensation from the outset and the perpetrators never caught, primarily the result of non-accountability and departmental incompetence.

This familiar scene and many others captured the seriousness of the lives of millions in the city. The message was crystal clear — everybody is a victim. The question is will you change it or leave the system as is.

The series will run next from May 7 to 10 at the PACC.

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