‘Panja Shikanja’: PNCA plans playful satire on Pakistan’s political history

  • Chinese artist among 60-member team busy in rehearsing for the upcoming stage play

ISLAMABAD: Artists at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) are busy in rehearsing for the upcoming stage play ‘Panja Shikanja,’ a playful satire on the political history of Pakistan in the form of a high-value contemporary theatre.

Panja Shikanja is a fable woven around socio-political-culture. It is about a dream, a joke and bizarre consequences. It is about a cat, five innocent kittens, a critical rooster, a philosopher dog, a compulsive dreamer, the ruthless king and all his men and above all it is about the lust for eternal control.

Some 60 artists including a Chinese artist are taking part in the play. According to the plot, a cat gives birth to five kittens who starts chanting the slogan ‘Long Live the King’ as soon as they are born. The news of the miraculous kittens spread like wildfire and everybody starts claiming ownership of the kittens.

However, the kittens are confiscated by the king who has been advised by his advisers to show the kittens to the world. So the miracle is witnessed by the entire world and the king can claim the kingdom of the entire world. The king’s men organise a grand event, which is attended by the most important leaders and transmitted live to the entire world.

The king gladly shares the miraculous kittens with the world, however as soon as the kittens see the king, their slogan changes into ‘down with the king.’ A horrible investigation takes place, the owner is badly tortured to uncover the plot, and finally, it turns out that the kittens had opened their eyes on the fifth day and the revelation turns into a rebellion against the king.

PNCA Director General Jamal Shah, who in addition to have scripted and directed the drama, is also playing the leading role in the drama as the king, said that the play was hilariously funny complemented by interesting music, dances, dramatic sets, innovative costumes and special effects. “PNCA is committed to theatrical entertainment by bringing together the best talent of stage,” he said.

Ali Saleem, playing the role of the law minister, said that it’s basically a black political comedy representing an evil regime of the past. It’s absolutely an amazing play, he said. “Since Islamabad is my hometown, I am thoroughly enjoying not only the environment but the energy of the team members as well. I would give full marks to PNCA that over the last couple of years it has reactivated the cultural activities and I would request the people that they should come and bring their friends to watch this interesting play.”

Wang Shan who plays the role of a Chinese doll in the drama said that it was a great experience working with Pakistani artists who are extremely talented. “They act naturally like they are born artists,” she said. Comparing Chinese theatre with Pakistani theatre, she said that the Pakistani artists were more spontaneous and more dynamic while their artists were more rigid culturally as they follow rules more strictly.

The story revolves around the cat and her five kittens which is played by Naeema Butt, a theatre artist who also runs her own interactive theatre. Talking about her role, she said that her role depicts a mother who cannot depend her kids against the oppressive system. “Since I run my theatre company for the oppressed communities, I can easily connect with the role,” she said. The performances are planned nationwide in the month of August and September this year.