Humour In Adversityby The Daily Eye Team December 9 2016, 3:41 pm Estimated Reading Time: 2 mins, 45 secs
It would be difficult to imagine how a divorce could be turned into a comedy--but this is what writer-director Imran Rasheed has done with his new play Phir Se Shaadi!?
Young couple Aiman (Farrukh Seyer) and Sheeba (Nisha Dhar) get divorced in a fit of pique, but they realise they are in love and want to remarry. For a Muslim couple it is not so easy to remarry; as the Qazi (Mohammad Khaliq) points out, Islam has the system of ‘halala’ under which a divorced couple can marry again only if the woman first marries another man, consummates the marriage and then he agrees to divorce her. This custom was meant to discourage the uttering of the triple ‘talaq’ by men for frivolous reasons. But it makes women totally powerless in choosing their own fate. In a society that demands chastity from women, this can end up wrecking relationships. (BR Chopra’s 1982 film, Nikaah was also about this custom.)
They approach a kind and friendly professor Kamaal (Danish Hussain) for help and advice. Rasheed’s approach is not melodramatic, but absurd—the funniest bit being the hunt for a groom for halala. Professor Kamaal’s Hindu friend Jialal (Yasir Khan), and wife Husna (Rukhsar Kabir Khan) are recruited in the hunt for a malleable groom who will marry and divorce Sheeba on demand so that she can remarry Aiman. The one guy they find, who is willing to go through with it, so that he can make some money to elope with his girlfriend, is caught out just before the wedding ceremony goes through, and his girlfriend refuses to believe that he was not betraying her.
Aiman timidly asks the Professor Kamaal if he would help by being the short term groom, and after his wife tearfully agrees, he marries Sheeba, and then much to everyone’s surprise and horror, refuses to divorce her, because she makes him feel young.
It took Rasheed’s wonderfully witty script and the perfect comic timing of his team of actors to turn a serious social problem into a hilarious farce. For instance, when the wedding takes place—that nobody is happy about—two hijras muscle in and demand money. Brushing aside the currency issue, they pull out a card machine.
There is a bunch of qawwals who comment from the sidelines in song led by a “Nusrat type Khan sahab” (Karan Desai)—it’s a while that a play has used this form of robust music with the wildly clapping accompanists.
Without underlining the sorry condition of the young woman who is passed about like a parcel and is helpless to leave the professor, because only the man can utter the triple talaq and get rid of the wife, Rasheed creates a counterpoint and saviour for the meek Sheeba in the fiery and confident Husna, who weeps a bit and then decides to solve the problem.
It is quite an achievement to make audiences laugh and also think about the position of women in traditional societies, as well as question the efficacy of some customs.