Stage Plays of Karachi


*Raju Jamil*


1. BAAZIGAR..staged at Katrak Hall in 1956 with cast: Ibrahim Nafis, Laal Mohammad (musician of the duo Laal Mohammad and Iqbal), Naseeruddin and some kids. All from Radio Pakistan, Karachi. This stage play was house full and went on for one week. It also had a song worded as “Najoomi..batlanaa….”

2. IBLEES KI MAJLIS E SHOORA: staged at Theosophical Hall, Bunder Road opp: Radio Pakistan, In 1958. I don’t remember the cast but I know 90% were Radio Pakistan artiste.

3. MIRZA ZAHIRDAAR BEG: staged at Theosophical Hall in 1959 with cast; Sehba Akhtar (the poet and writer of MEIN BHI PAKISTAN HOON TU BHI PAKISTAN HY), Rehana Siddiqui (Khala of TV artiste Arifa Siddiqui) and Tahir and many Radio Pakistan artiste.

Sixties saw the staging of epics like; Mirza Ghalib Bundar Road Pe, Taaleem e Baalighaan, Laal Qillay Se Lalukhet followed by a twist and change on themes by Ali Ahmed and Kamal Ahmed Rizvi……till Urdu stage plays met their sad end that finally……now the NAPA is trying best to revive the stage or theatre plays in Pakistan.


There was never a proper theatre/stage production house in Karachi till mid 50’s when Jalal AlKarimi (survivor of PIA Cairo Aircrash) and his partner established one on their own and did some ENGLISH Stage plays with some Britishers and Christians.

Very early sixties or probably very late fifties saw some students gather and embarked upon producing stage plays—which are listed accordingly;

1. “Julius Caesar” 1964 (Javed Jabbar and some students of Karachi school…fresh matriculated ones in college)

2. “You can’t take it with you” 1964 ( Anwar Maqsood, Shirley Hyder, Javed Jabbar, ) the team also visited Lahore and staged this play at the Govt. College.

3. “Man who came to dinner” 1964 ( Jabed Jabbar, Akbar Agha, Shirley Hyder, Iftikhar Ahmed, Anwar Maqsood ). This play was years later—by 1972-73 adopted in Urdu by Hasina Moin and produced by Kamal Ahmed Rizvi.

4. “Simple Spy Men” (Probably Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Mahmood Masood and his brother) 1964

5. “Hamlet” acted by Aslam Azhar – 1963.

By 1973-74, Yasmin Ismail established her “Contemporary Theatre Productions” at her home in DHA- adjacent to DHA Office. Her team included; Shireen Mazari, Rana Haider, Ismat HAIDER, Rizwan Haider, Tariq Ismail, Nighat Bokhari, Saleem Askari, Sehban Ismail, Jaffery and yours truly. Yasmin got fortunate to receive the support of Goethe Institute that her three stage plays were sponsored by GI led by Mr. Gassman who was married to a Pakistani girl Saljuqi..sister of my school class fellow Shahla.

The three plays of Yasmin were;
1. “Birthday Party” by Harold Pinter directed by Aslam. Cast as I remember…were Jaffery, Yasmin, Ismat Haider, Nicky Bokhari and Tariq Ismail. (Tariq married Yasmin by 1974)….

2. “Arsenic and the old lace” 1973 directed by Yasmin Ismail.

3. “Arms and the men” 1974 directed by Rahila Masood of Karachi Grammar school. The cast had; Yasmin Ismail as “Raina”, Shaheryar Azhar a Citibanker from Karachi as ‘Sergius’ a British man as ‘Capt BLuntscheli’, Beg Sahab as ‘Major Petkoff”. I was a Serb Sargent at arms.

Yasmin had a very strong team. We met every weekend regularly and planned ENGLISH stage plays. We did them at the Adamjee Auditorium, PACC, The American Center Auditorium at the American Consulate in front of Frere Hall etc. the history will record as our play “Arms and the Men” the only English stage play ever to be telecast on PTV from its Karachi Station as it was full recorded either by ARFEEN or Ishrat Ansari at the Adamjee Auditorium.

Then again…and suddenly, the English stage plays died down….taken over by Umar Sharif extempore unscripted stage plays….till entered my cousin Sohail Malik who tried and succeeded to an extent in reviving the English Stage plays and went slow…though sporadically coming up with ine suddenly but his lament on the Government conditionalities for stage plays in Karachi needs a serious consideration by those in authority.

Raju Jamil June 1 2018

Related image

Menin Rodrigues Two classic English plays held in the 1970s were “Jesus Christ Superstar” the musical in 1971, and “Macbeth” a satire in 1976. Both were staged at the Ebrahim Alibhai auditorium.
Menin Rodrigues Mention must be made of the Konkani  stage plays coupled with Solos & Duets held at the Katrak Hall in the 60s and 70s by the Goan Christian Konkani speaking community.

Frederick Nazareth  I was just correcting the record to show that the 1973 production of ”Arsenic and Old Lace” was by NTG and was directed by Jalal Al-Karimi. The two sweet albeit murderous old ladies were played by American actors Ninette Mordaunt and Mary James. The rest of the cast was a mix of Pakistani and expatriate actors, including Tony Moggach, husband of Deborah Moggach, best known for writing the screenplay for the internationally famous ”The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Your CTP production of the play presumably came later.

About Amin H. Karim MD

Graduate of Dow Medical College Class of 1977.
This entry was posted in Entertainment in Old Karachi, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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