A mix of satire and laughter on our socio-political scene

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‘Bananistan’ packed with a tongue-in-cheek references

Zubair Qureshi

Islamabad—It is a matter of time and a bit of discomfort, especially when evenings are getting colder, to reach the National Library auditorium for the sake of a play. After watching it you cannot help thinking this is worth it. A large number of audience, especially families and youths were spellbound by the performance of the artists in Bananistan, a play packed with laughter and satire.
The one-hour-and-forty minute stage play Bananistan, a Kopykats production is packed with non-stop laughter and at times blunt satire while portraying hypocrisies and typical wrangling our politicians indulge in. The play-within-a-play features almost all the prominent politicians, from Nawaz Sharif to Maulana Fazl, however, assigning them different roles this time, various characters of a love story.
For the entire duration of the play, the actors keep you engaged, involved and indulged in non-stop laughter and applause. All the young artists in the play are Hum Sub Umeed Say Hain fame and very well familiar with the audience. Dawar Mehmood plays Imran Khan, Shafqat Khan, Qaim Ali Shah and Taha Nawaz Sharif. Their skills are simply spellbinding and they do a wonderful impersonation of the politicians. However, it is Mustafa Chaudhry who steals the show as Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
His gruffly voice and pink joggers cause under the shalwar kameez are in themselves a cause for laughter. The audience burst into laughter at his dialogues, appearance and crazy behavior. Saqib Sumeer (Altaf Hussain) and Hammad Siddiq (Asif Ali Zardari) also did their part well bringing laughter and appreciation from the audience.
The play is set in 2030 when these politicians still caught in rivalries and power phobia try to find some vocation as the regime in Bananistan has banned political activities in the country.
Tulin Khalid Azim, doing the role of director in the play was of the opinion that it was not easy to keep a distance between present day Pakistan and the setting of the play; instead of having it said in the present, it is said in 2030.
Basically we wanted to give a bit of breathing space for us creatively speaking and the way to do that was to create this fictitious country called Bananistan which could be anywhere on the planet. It is just that their politicians look and sound strangely like ours, she said.
As far as the content of the play is concerned, there are many tongue-in-cheek references to things that have happened in the country. “There are a lot of running jokes in the play. Even though it is set in 2030, the audience will recognize things from the news in the last year, or two,” said the real director of the play Azim.