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Theatre in Pakistan

Problems Encountered being a Thespian in Pakistan

Mor Mahal

Hum Safar

Mera Sultan

(I am not in any way am suggesting you to go watch these shows. These were the ones present on the top of mind when I was writing this article)

Have you ever dreamed of being an actor or starring in a play? If so, have you ever thought what the name of your first ever play would be and what role you would be performing? For me, the name of the first play I performed was “Bholu” which can be translated to “Innocent.” It was a Punjabi musical adaptation of the all-time famous novel, “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens. The role I played in it was of a minor supporting character, one of the “gundas” of “Sheeda”.

Working as an Actor is a lifelong dream of many individuals which only a few ever achieve. The majority only sees what it wishes to see. In our case, they only see the glory that comes with being an actor, and not, in turn, the struggle the individuals had to do to reach that platform. Let’s go behind the curtain and put some light on the main protagonists of the show- the actors/actresses.

What happens behind the camera, stays behind the camera.

 

In Pakistan, there are two types of people who work as actors.

The Ones who got to lick the Golden Spoon

There are those who are literally handed down life as an actor. Their parents or close relatives or family has been actively participating in the showbiz business and for these people, it is quite easy to start a life in acting and continue with this endeavour. Even though they might not be good actors, though they can still continue to leisurely enjoy their life while acting.

Doing Acting is like riding a roller coaster of emotions. Once you get a taste of this thrill, you are immediately addicted to it and want to experience it again.

The Others

Then there are those who need to struggle to become actors.

These people encounter quite a few issues which this article will be discussing.

In Pakistan, the first problem that one will encounter whilst starting their life as an actor or actress is that they won’t know where to start. There is no major institution present which deals with training people to become successful actors or actresses, unlike foreign states. One has to be lucky to either be born in a family that can afford an institution that can provide you with a place where you can perform or you have a liberal family that allows acting otherwise, drastic measures would need to be taken if you wish to pursue this field.

After one does get their “experience” in acting (through various means) the next step is to perform on bigger stages. That is where our second problem jumps in. Pakistan has no “Broadway” of its own to express its ever whelming and changing Theatre culture. Sure enough, we have Al-Hamra but the expensive cost that comes with reserving a show in even the smallest of its halls is not affordable for the average man. Moreover, Al-Hamra is in dire need of renovation. Who knows, soon enough even Al-Hamra might have to be delisted from UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (Sarcasm)

In a Stage Production, more effort and time is actually spent on building the play and props rather than performing it.

 

Let’s say your luck still withheld and you came out strong. You have spent a whole life achieving your dreams, proving everyone wrong and you finally become an actor. Now you wonder when the cash will start flowing in and when will you be able to buy your Lamborghini or Mercedes or buy a mansion of your own. You turn 40 and you feel like you are old and too old for this job so you leave your field and die a regretful death. Unfortunately, theatre in Pakistan is one of the most underpaid jobs and the one job which everyone wishes to avoid as one works extremely hard but it bears no fruit. You are left helpless to survive on the bare crumbs that you get. (Finally understand how Joey felt, huh?)

Being aware is the first step. Working as an actor, especially in Pakistan is no easy job. If you wish to pursue this field be sure to have a strong will power and conscience which cannot be bent by the opinions of others. Always stay true to your passion and goals. What’s the point of killing your soul and having an economically good lifestyle when you can never be happy? “Boond boond sey sagar banta hai”, similarly when one works hard, others follow and success surely follows not far back.

The basic essential of a great actor is that he loves himself in acting. ~  Charlie Chaplin

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