This article examines a hitherto obscure theatre play by renowned television playwright Asghar Nadeem Syed, simultaneously presenting and opening up the play for further critical discussion. Bhola Such Bola was an experimental play in many ways. Owing to the size of the cast, rehearsals were conducted as workshops with actors given only their part of the script. This means that very few performers actually possessed the entire play, and this partly explains why the script could not be preserved in theatre archives in Lahore. This research has also endeavored to recover, and at times, partially reconstruct, the original script since one of the authors of this article was a member of the cast that performed the play under the auspices of the Government College Dramatics (GCDC) in 1995. According to the playwright, the play was staged at Government College Lahore to resist, in its own way, the institution’s colonial legacy of preferential treatment to English language scripts in its theatrical tradition. We demonstrate that Bhola is a unique effort for two major reasons: one, the play resembles TV sketches more than a well-wrought theatre play, and two, the first act does not seem to have an obvious conflict. With these attributes, the play critiques social attitudes, vices and indulgences. In this way, we argue that Bhola Sach Bola becomes an effort to reclaim creative agency. It is pivotal that such plays/ play-scripts be preserved and taken up in scholarly discussions to promote local/ Urdu theatre.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.