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DAWN Tuesday Review, c.1997

Dramatis Personae: Mahmood Ali

“Firstly, there is no push from the government. There aren’t any training centers. We don’t have original script-writers. We only have adaptations which often fail to impress in the local set up.

“As far as off-beat theatre is concerned, we can only say that something is better than nothing. Street theatre is a good tradition. They have reached the masses with some good plays and a message.

“In the past we have had people like Ali Ahmad, Athar Shah Khan, Kamal Ahmad Rizvi, Anwar Sajjad and Naeem Tahir. They did a lot for the theatre but then they also gave up. Actually, the tastes of the people have changed. It is basically due to this fact that the plays of Khwaja Moinuddin are no longer in the repertoire. Today, even Alhamra has become just like any other commercial theatre.

“I must pay tribute to Qavi Khan who still stands up with something every few years. Sometime back he invited me to perform two roles in Moinuddin’s all-time favourite Mirza Ghalib Bunder Road Par. We staged it in Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot and were very much appreciated by the audiences there. Even then, such ventures are not economically profitable. Only die-hard theatre buffs like Qavi Khan can survive without any considerable monetary rewards. To establish a tradition of theatre we need several more.”

This brief interview appeared in an issue of Tuesday Review celebrating the 50 years of theater in Pakistan

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