Veteran playwright Anwar Maqsood is back and these days his theatre play Siachen is entertaining people in Karachi’s Arts Council. Directed by Dawar Mehmood of Kopykats Productions and featuring mostly newcomers, the play is laced with hard-hitting dialogues as well as action sequences – something that we don’t see in our feature films. So what if the producers decided to adapt it for the big screen … even if they don’t think about that, we can give them reasons to ponder on the adaptation. After all, it has all the right ingredients that our films lack these days. Let’s analyze.
Powerful dialogues, Outstanding acting
Anwar Maqsood is not known for his film writing but believe me; he has been there and done that. In fact, he was credited as writer for Syed Noor’s Deewanay Tere Pyaar Kay although he doesn’t say much about it. But here in Siachen, he pens powerful dialogues that are too big for the stage audience. These lines when combined with brilliant acting make you cry one moment and laugh the other. There is a soldier who misses his mother; another who knows that he might never see his son again; another who is happy that his sister will be taken care of if something bad happens to him. There is also friendly war of the words with the Indian soldiers who are not shown on stage but speak from off stage. In a film, it can be made to look like a confrontation, even if it’s full of funny lines comparing the cricket teams of both sides. Add to it the inexperience of actors (anonymity for viewers) and who knows, the director might strike gold just like he did in the theatre version.
Lines that can melt a mountain
There are some lines that you have to witness to know their intensity. When the soldiers are praying and the imam asks Allah for leniency as khuda ka khauf kar; when they find an Indian bihari amongst themselves; when one of the soldiers finds out what his mother wrote in the letter and when the father of one of the soldiers has an animated conversation with him, all these scenes are tailor-made for the big screen. Even the flashback and flash forward would seem more relatable on screen, where experiments on the editing machine could make it look fabulous. In fact, the play begins with a montage of shots that would look fantastic on cinema screen; it took next-level creativity from the director to make it happen on stage. Just imagine how it would look in cinema!
Siachen can fill the void of tragedy, easily
There was a time when Pakistani films had elements of tragedy and actors like Mohammad Ali and Waheed Murad were the best when it came to tragic scenes. Nowadays, there is nothing tragic in Pakistan films because the thing they call tragedy is in fact TV-inspired drama. Siachen is the perfect answer to all those fans of tragic cinema out there because it has scenes where you can’t just stop crying; when all you would hear in the theatre is either coughing sound or sniffs that usually are the result of tears falling from one’s eyes. Just think for a moment; how these scenes would look if shot for the cinema screen, what would be their impact and how high they would be able to raise the bar for upcoming filmmakers.
Action sequences from fans of DC Comics
For those who know Dawar Mehmood, they know that he is a fan of comic book characters and is inclined towards DC Comics; meaning he is a fan of Batman, Superman and friends. How he translates the fight sequences on stage into action scenes of cinema is left up to him but a DC Comics fan can never take action lightly. After all, DC Comics’ earlier name was Action Comics, wasn’t it? Plus the enemy here is India, the very enemy real-life soldiers are up against in the real-life mountain region!
And then there are the songs!
A film can’t be complete without songs and Siachen has ample situations where a song can be inserted. The highly impressive whistling competition can be joined by a few patriotic numbers filmed on the jawaans whereas one romantic song can describe the relationship between the BBC Journalist and the hero Moosa Khan who experiences love at first sight like most of his colleagues in Only Man’s Land! There can be a few numbers in the flashback where the soldier might think of happy times with his family and then wake up in Ice Station, Siachen.