Declining trend of punjabi stage theatre
“The world is a stage and we are all actors”. (Shakespeare). This dialogue very aptly presents the
situation of the world today. Every person is an actor who uses certain modes of communication
to convey their message. However, there are some mediums which are more popular , powerful
and can communicate with the masses. Stage happens to be one such medium.
The history of theatre is rich from ancient Rome to the streets of London. Every civilization’s
Success has been measured by the rise of arts and crafts in that time. Theatre has played an
Extremely important role throughout the history. Whether it was to provide misery stricken
Audience with escapism or educate the masses, theatre has been the platform.
However this glory of theatre does not translate well in to the Pakistani society. Theatre is not
Considered medium of expression nowadays. Rather in most cases it has become a source of
cheap entertainment. This form of theatre that I researched on mostly exists in pujab. The
Plays enacted in these theatre usually have no script but thrive on vulgarity and cheap jokes ,
degradation of women and vulgar dances by women. This form of entertainment has been
declared a no go zone for the family and is considered as the most down trodden means of en
-teratinment. This constantly criticized form of entertainment is popular though people purchase
expensive tickets to watch these plays.
Hence I embarked on a journey to discover the truth behind these plays. I wanted to discern
Whether the Punjabi theatre truly represented our society as theatre does in the rest of the world.
Whether these plays promote vulgarity are truly popular and who is responsible for the decay of
Theatre in Punjab.
I questioned many stage actors as to how would they describe their profession given the fact
That it is often criticized for promoting vulgarity. Stage actor Asif Iqbal believes that these
Theatre plays are a very much representation of our society. He stated that the Pakistani
Society is not as clean as people want to perceive. He claimed that evils like drugs,
Prostitution and violence are a common part of the Pakistani society. Therefore, the
Punjabi theatre represents it. He claimed that the Punjabi stage theatre showed what really
Was a part of the society. Hence it was an integral part and an actual representation of the
Society. On response to our question about criticism on promoting vulgarity, Asif Iqbal
Claimed that Punjabi stage theatre was extremely popular. The tickets are expensive and people
Purchase these tickets to watch the plays. He said as opposed to Punjabi stage shows, people
Do not watch the sophisticated message sending plays by theatre groups usch as Ajoka and Rafi
Peer even though they are free of cost. Hence people come to watch these expensive plays which
Clearly indicates that these are much more popular among the masses. Hence they describe
Their profession as entertainment for masses. The other actors that I interviewed also
Claimed that the height of popularity of these plays is reflected by the fact that many of the
Stage actors such as Sohail Ahmed and Amanullah have been picked up by main satellite
t.v channels such as geo and dunya t.v. The success of the shows such as khabarnaak and hasb-
e-haal is based on these actors. That represents the popularity of the Punjabi entertainment. .
when I asked these actors how would you respond to such criticism,they argued
about moral relativism. They claimed that what some people call vulgarity, others would
Term it as entertainment. So if some people criticize the Punjabi stage theatre as vulgar, others
Came to watch these plays with extreme enthusiasm . It is one of those arguments where people
Claim that one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.
They also made many arguments in favour of their perfomances . many of these actors belong to
The lowest income strata of the society.When faced with an opportunity to make money they
Want to maximize the revenue earned. These actors claimed that since their profession is
economically rewarding, they should continue with it. Admitting the presence of vulgarity in Punjabi theatre these actors argued that it is the ignorance
From the government and government related institutions that has led to the decay of the Punjabi