Spent the Eid break in the city of Karachi and, amidst doing other interesting things, was also able to see an original musical called Karachi being performed at the Arts Council there. A two and a half hour play, produced by Nida Butt and Waqas Bukhari with music compositions by Hamza Jafri, was an utter delight. Nida Butt has the credibility and fan following from the last two major productions of Chicago and Mama Mia that her theatre company staged in Karachi and Lahore. It embolded her into venturing into, heretofore, untried waters of an original musical done in Urdu. The setting of the story was supposedly in the district of Lyari in the city of Karachi, brought to fame in recent times by Zulfikar Mirza, but could easily have been a reflection of the times we live in, anywhere in this country. The city of Karachi, particularly, has a set of diverse cultures with the haves of the posh Defence and Clifton areas having very little in common with the have-nots of the troubled areas like Lyari. But it is Lyari, which after watching the play, one would like to put on the 'must see places nonetheless, because it is here that all the excitement and unpredictability of life exists and flourishes with mafia dons who control drugs, prostitution and betting houses. The play, with wonderfully believable sets and ambiance, is about a young boxer who travels to Lyari looking for the best boxing coach that Pakistan has to offer and one who owns the Ghulam Bashir Boxing Club in Lyari. The catch is that Bashir has not coached anyone for two decades since he had a falling-out with his best buddy Daud Islam who runs the local mafia. Just the fact that all the stories and sordidness around us is being portrayed realistically is a lifeline of hope in these times. The story is also about the helpless and exploited, who constantly look and wait for someone with the power to set them free from the clutches of a whole system that works in collision against their interests. Syed Adnan Jaffar as Daud Islam, the mafia head, gave a superb account of himself as an actor. He controls the equally corrupt cops and the maulvis and, thus, fears no one. Rubya Chaudhry, the singer, actress and model, adds a lot of colour to the play as the documentary filmmaker doing a story on boxing in Lyari. The live singing and dancing on stage could be compared to any Broadway production and has a genuine joi de vivre with the ability to transport the audience into a magical make-believe world. This play scores on all fronts except perhaps the set-changes which would have been more seamless in foreign theatrical productions of this scale. It is amazing that in this world of turmoil, particularly in our part of the world, there are people who continue with their labour of love and spend all their energies and money in the development and promotion of the arts. Arts is not only a diversion but it is something which keeps playing on ones mind for days, months and years after it has been enjoyed and appreciated. Like sports, arts bring serenity and tranquility, says Bairam Avari who is patron of the production house that staged Karachi. Sponsorships are the main support required for the development of the arts and it is only through collective, corporate responsibility can this dream of enlightening the masses and showing them the better face of life be achieved. As the political stage of the country begins to liven up and people get ready for ring-side seats to real live sparring matches, with no holds barred, creating mass awareness of issues can also be done through the medium of arts. Corporate companies have to come forward to hold the hand and help up those who try and make these differences to society. Karachi, the musical, needs to travel to Lahore and Islamabad and other cities too so it can successfully hold up a very entertaining and musical mirror to Pakistani society at large. Post Script: The emergence of a third force in politics was the main topic of conversation in the city of Karachi as well over the Eid holidays. People have been taken by surprise at the show of support for PTI in Lahore and, at least, are no longer dismissive of the party as an entity. They dont quite know what to put the finger on to account for this change except the usual 'backing of the establishment and do not any longer make predictions of this party being contained to 10 seats in the National Assembly, as was their wont in the recent past. They also wait for PTI head to take a clearer stand on the issue of religious extremism. PTI, if nothing else, has to its credit the disturbance of the comfort of those who thought they and their families would continue to misrule us for ever As a fall-out and only by default, some attention may finally be paid by all parties to the interests and well-being of the common citizens who hold in their hands the power to elect whomever they please. Pakistanis have been led up the garden path by every leader they have ever loved and pinned their hopes on thus far, except Quaid-i-Azam. As Imran Khan wallows in the lime light currently, he must plan on how not to fail them, if they decide to repose their trust in him. Tallatazim@yahoo.com