Napa Repertory Theatre hits bullseye with Begum Jaan as Nimra Bucha finds the …

A begum worth knowing
Napa Repertory Theatre hits bullseye with Begum Jaan as Nimra
Bucha finds the role of a lifetime


Written by Javed
Starring: Nimra Bucha, Naila Jaffery, Ali Sheikh
Directed by: Anjum Ayaz

ne aakhir koi acha kaam kar hi liya (the repertory’s finally done
something worthwhile),” I
hear someone say as they jostle their way out of the theatre at the
Karachi Arts Council. True, while the Napa Repertory Theatre has adapted
classic plays such as The Seagull or A Midsummer Night’s Dream with
considerable skill, never before has the audience broken out into
rapturous praise every five minutes. The actors would often have to
freeze on stage as applause broke out over a certain scene, or a bunch
of people broke out into ‘wah wahs’ over a particular dialogue.

The best kind of art
is that which moves, after all. A big part of the credit goes to the
hugely talented Nimra Bucha, of course. She is capricious and wise;
playful and serious by turns as Begum Jaan, around whom revolves this
story. Begum Jaan was once a celebrated singer who counted several
powerful men amongst her fans. She carries around pieces of history with
her in the form of her own memories; objects of note in her home all
have their own story to tell – Begum Jaan is someone who could have a
lot to say and teach, but often chooses not to. To her credit, Nimra
Bucha slips into Begum Jaan’s skin easily, making the character her
own. However, it is not Bucha who carries this play.

Nor is it Ali Sheikh,
who’s Sanjay Panday enters Begum Jaan’s life in her twilight years
after having searched for her for ages. Ali Sheikh is an NRT regular and
is quite entertaining as Sanjay.

His character is a
writer and occasional journalist (when he finds something worthy of
reporting), and he sought out Begum Jaan precisely for the stories she
had to tell, despite the belief that she had long been dead. Sanjay is
relentless as he pursues Begum Jaan for her life’s story, and he is
truly interested in her as one of the last living relics of a time of
great historical importance. Begum Jaan, sharp as a tack as she is,
places several prices on her story, one of them being Sanjay’s
marriage to her granddaughter Zarina.

Naila Jaffery is an
interesting choice for Zarina’s role. Having been around as an actor
since the early ‘90s, Jaffery is best associated with television
plays, so to see her play a youngish, slightly impulsive woman is an
experience in itself. One might imagine it hard to divorce Naila Jaffery
from her often domestic/ matronly roles on TV, but what do you know, she
manages to just be Zarina Begum when she’s on stage.

But it is Javed
Siddiqui who steals this particular show. Javed Siddiqui is the man
behind the story, the writer of Begum Jaan. A noted Indian playwright,
Siddiqui began his career by writing the dialogue for Satyajit Ray’s
adaptation of Premchand’s Shatranj Ke Khilari and went on to write the
dialogue for runaway hits such as Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Baazigar,
the more serious Zubeidaa, and the story for the hilarious Duplicate.

In Begum Jaan,
Siddiqui has spun together words that resonate with you till you can’t
keep yourself from crying because what he is saying is pretty much
common sense but is said so beautifully it sounds like the highest truth
ever told. He makes his audience laugh with unexpectedly quirky
conversation and hits home with blunt observations. While it is usually
the actors who bring alive the writing, in this case, it is Javed
Siddiqui’s writing that is the essence of Begum Jaan.

-Begum Jaan runs at
the Karachi Arts Council everyday at 8 p.m. till June 12.

– Photos by Naqeeb
ur Rehman



Not Ready, not by a stretch

Open Magazine

At an event to
promote his superhero movie Ra.One early this week, Shah Rukh Khan stood
in front of
a big banner of the movie and pointed to ‘G.One’ written on it.
G.One is the name of his charac–ter in the movie. He said that G stood
for Gauri (his wife) and One for his standing in the industry. And then
he turned to see if everyone had got the joke. There was the polite
laughter, but more than that he knew exactly what would come in terms of
public–ity: entertainment channels and reporters dutifully construed
it as a dig at Salman Khan being touted as Number One.

Till Dabanng released,
Salman had been nowhere in the race for the top. The contention between
Aamir and Shah Rukh (Open did a story on it) was all that mattered.
Salman’s next movie, Ready, is already being talked of as a superhit,
and like a self-fulfill–ing prophecy, this might just come into being.

His ability to deliver
such blockbusters notwithstanding, Salman Khan, alas, is not just not
number one, but not even close to either Shah Rukh or Aamir. One thing
you can notice right away when anyone says “Salman is at the top” is
that the only parameter being applied is the maximum business a movie
has done. Dabanng has done more than 3 Idiots, which did more than My
Name Is Khan. And so, Salman Khan is bigger than Aamir Khan is bigger
than Shah Rukh.

Broaden the parameters
a little and it becomes clear that for a producer casting Salman, the
chances of his sinking the film are greater than delivering a Dabanng.
His list of flops in recent times include Veer, London Dreams, Main Aur
Mrs Khanna, Yuvraaj, Hello, God Tussi Great Ho. And in the same period,
there are just two hits—Dabanng and Wanted.

Compare it to Shah
Rukh who has had just one flop, Billu, and Aamir who has had no flops at
all since Mangal Pandey in 2005. Salman flops so often because he makes
awful movies, and, as the evidence clearly shows, the audience is only
willing to accept him playing a particular swashbuckling role. Both Shah
Rukh and Aamir, on the other hand, get people to buy tickets no matter
what character they play.

And if you still
believe Salman is Number One, imagine if all the three actors were
floating IPOs of them–selves on the stock market. Who would you put
your money on?



Martin Scorsese may tackle Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton

Quick – name
the most tempestuous, scandalous love affair and marriage in Hollywood.
No, not Brad
and Jennifer and Angelina. Did we hear you say Elizabeth Taylor and
Richard Burton? Right. Now that Taylor has passed away Paramount
Pictures is finalizing a deal to develop a feature about the romance –
with Martin Scorsese at the helm.

According to Deadline,
the film will be produced by Julie Yorn, Gary Foster and
Russ Krasnoff of Krasnoff Foster Productions, and Scorsese through his
Paramount-based Sikelia banner. The team has optioned Furious Love, the
Sam Kashner/Nancy Schoenberger book about the romance published last
year by HarperCollins.

Liz and Richard met on
the set of Cleopatra and became a hot number.Burton, 36, was married to
Sybil Burton. The Liz and Richard affair even came to the attention of
the Vatican, which condemned the couple. Taylor and Burton married in
1964 and had a decade of rough love before divorcing in 1974. They
remarried the next year, then divorced again in 1976.

According to Deadline,
the producers are moving ahead with the blessing of the Burton family
and are negotiating with the Taylor estate. Is Scorsese finally giving
up gangsters to tackle true Hollywood stories? Marty and Liz and
Richard. Quite the interesting trio.


Kapoor’s latest fancy: Shraddha Kapoor

There was a
time film stars were considered ‘cool’ if they had membership to the
JW Marriott Health
Club. Or owned a Porsche. Today, if you’re a young Hindi film actress
and you’re not on Ranbir Kapoor’s BlackBerry Messenger, you’re
doing something wrong.

The Saawariya star who
has a reputation for dating every co-star he works with (and some
actresses he hasn’t even done a movie with), is rumoured to have every
Bollywood heroine under the age of 30 on speed dial. According to media
reports, at a private film party recently, at least three actresses were
spotted together, giggling over jokes he’d sent them on their phones.

it appears that the latest young lady the actor has taken a fancy to is
Shraddha Kapoor, the star of the recent dud Luv Ka The End, and daughter
of Shakti and Shivangi Kapoor. Sources in Bollywood report that Ranbir
has been strongly recommending the actress to his producers and his
advertising brands to be cast opposite him in future projects. There is
some talk that Ranbir organised a meeting between Shraddha and his Wake
Up Sid director Ayan Mukherji recently about the possibility of casting
her as the female lead in their new film together, a road-trip movie
across North India.

If Shraddha does land
the lead in Mukherji’s film, you can be sure she’ll get a load of
angry looks at the next Bollywood film party from the half-dozen
hopefuls (read, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Nargis
Fakhri and Angela Johnson) who’ve been hungry to land that film.


Just In

This week,
news of a forthcoming Coldplay single, ‘Every Teardrop Is a
Waterfall’ set the blogosphere
ablaze, as followers of the U.K. outfit waited for the first sample of
its follow-up to 2008’s Viva La Vida. Unveiled on Friday, the new
track is up for sale at digital retailers in most of the world. The
forthcoming record, produced by Brian Eno, is said to be influenced by
the 1970s graffiti art culture of New York City. The song itself,
conjures images of flashing disco lights on a decadent dance floor,
flush with splashy synths, acoustic strums and pulsating kick drum. And
then there’s the chord sampling from 1970s Australian
singer-songwriter Peter Allen’s 1976 hit ‘I Go to Rio’ off his
fourth album, Taught by Experts. Coldplay did credit Allen as a
songwriter on the credits for the track on its website. After all, it
would seem wise to cover their bases, considering the 2008 lawsuit
brought against the band by guitarist Joe Satriani over claims that it
plagiarized his 2004 track ‘If I Could Fly’ for the 2008 single
‘Viva La Vida’. That case was settled out of court.


Direct action tax
protesters are turning their sights on the Glastonbury festival,
promising to use U2’s
headline performance to throw a spotlight on the group’s convoluted
tax affairs. Plans are afoot for a giant inflatable banner with the
slogan “Bono Pay Up”, spelled out in lights. “Bono claims to care
about the developing world, but U2 greedily indulges in the very kind of
tax avoidance which is crippling the poor nations of this world,” said
a spokesman for Art Uncut. “We will be showing the very real impact of
U2’s tax avoidance on hospitals and schools in Ireland. Anyone
watching will be very much aware that Bono needs to pay up.” A
spokesperson for U2, who are in Vancouver, was unavailable for comment.
Their manager, Paul McGuinness, has previously insisted: “U2 is a
global business and pays taxes globally … At least 95% of U2’s
business … takes place outside of Ireland and as a result the band
pays many different kinds of taxes all over the world.”

Kareena Kapoor is all
set to join SRK, Hrithik and Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan at Madame Tussauds
museum. According to reports, Kareena has officially been waxed; the
Tussauds team went to Mumbai to take measurements and other required
information. Bebo wanted to wait for Madame Tussauds to make the
official announcement, but the event management company that is
organizing these international film awards wanted to be the first ones
to divulge the enthralling news and so it leaked. Rumor has it that the
wax statue of Kareena will be revealed on the Independence Day weekend
which is also around the same time as Saif Ali Khan’s 41st birthday.
Kareena plans on taking her parents, sister and niece to the unveiling
in London, and has reportedly invited Saif’s family to come out and
celebrate with them.

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