KARACHI: Last month, theatre actor and director Sunil Shanker’s Qusoorwaar, an adaptation of American classic teleplay 12 Angry Men received a tremendous response at Karachi Theatre Festival. The play is set to be staged again from December 23-25 at National Academy of Performing Arts. Speaking with The Express Tribune, Shanker shared his vision and challenges of working on the play.
He never watched the film version of 12 Angry Men as it would have affected the creative process. “The script was the inspiration. I haven’t watched the teleplay or film or the Indian version. Subconsciously you do get influenced in your creative choices, so I never watch the film versions of any play that I work on. I like to react organically to the script, and make my own choices.”
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However, an actor surely affects his creative choices. “If an actor is replaced, then the new actor will create a completely new character,” he added.
While the earlier performance had a powerful cast of Fawad Khan, Mesum Naqvi, Saad Fareedi, Ali Junejo, Nazarul Hasan, Ali Rizvi, Rauf Afridi, Osama Tahir, Naveed, Joshinder Chaggar and Shankar himself playing the jurors, the upcoming shows will have a few changes. “Two actors have changed and three characters have been modified. And like I said, when an actor changes, so does the character, so the dynamics are a little different.”
A wise man once said that with stellar cast comes more pressure. Adding to that pressure, Shanker concerns himself bringing out something new in each one of them. “For example, one actor, who is a genius with words and his voice, I gave him a character where it is all about the body. And one more actor, who is a dancer and is all about the body, she has to rely only on her words.”
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It’s this exact process of challenging himself and his actors that he enjoys. “I love this. We should work on projects that challenge us, helps us break out of our comfort zones. And if it doesn’t work, it’s no big deal. The process, the creating, the rehearsals, the characters, the team, this all is actually the end in itself.”
Localising the play was a different ballgame altogether. “The most obvious challenge was that the Jury system doesn’t exist in Pakistan. So we have adapted it by saying that the jury system has just been introduced and this is the first jury that is taking place,” said Shanker. “Most of the rest is universal. The themes of racism, bigotry and personal influences, it’s a very relatable script that deciphers the human psyche. That’s what makes it a classic.”
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A two-hour long thought-provoking play can be quite an engaging experience, but judging from the local theatre productions, the safe option is to keep the audience entertained with a comedy play. If not that, injecting a bit of humour can always help. Shanker disagreed with the idea, saying “Entertainment is not just humour. Serious, intense plays can be equally entertaining. I disagree with the commercial idea of what ‘entertainment’ is.”
Finally, when asked what the audience can expect from the upcoming shows, he said, “They can expect to be glued, spell bound to their seats for a full two hours. The script is fantastic, the actors are fantastic and it’s a true theatre experience.”
Courtesy : Express Tribune