Tell us something about the background of writing Half Plate?
I wrote this play for Khalida Riyasat when she was passing the last few months of her life. She said to me, ‘Anwar, I will hardly survive till December and you haven’t written anything for me.’ It was September when she talked to me. Originally it was a stage play but since she was very ill and stage performance was difficult so it became a TV play. Producer Mohsin Ali initially found the script bit inappropriate because of its first scene which was a long conversation for about thirty six minutes between Moin Akhtar and Khalida Riyasat. But on my request the play was rehearsed and he was stunned to find that the very first scene has a complete story like of a play.
There is change in spellings from ‘Half Plate’ to ‘Haaf Playt’. What is its reason?
I did not change its spellings. It is the production team who changed it. I was not happy with this change but they were of the view that these spellings are the literal translation of that colloquial word which is generally spoken in Punjabi or Urdu.
Mirza Nafees Barelvi writes columns for newspapers but he does not get payments for his articles. Is this a subjective element of this play?
There is pathos that a man doesn’t do anything. He kills his time only by quarreling with wife. He loves writing because it is his ancestral trait but he is also aggrieved for not getting his payment. He sees no future for writing about Hasrat Mohani, Allama Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Faraz etc. As you asked about subjective element, yes, you can say there is somehow a subjective element.
You worked with Moin Khan almost three and a half decade. Now Yasir is playing his role. Comment about Yasir?
Yasir performed his role very well. He is the best actor among all other young actors performing with him. Moin Akhtar and Bushra Ansari were at home of doing all the roles either it is serious or comic. Yasir also shares the same trait. Give him any role be it serious or comic, give him any character either Sindhi, Memon, Mirza or any other; he does justice to his role and also to the script.
A few words about Dawar and the cast?
The whole team is very hard working especially Dawar. They rehearsed for this play almost three months. I feel good when I see these young actors working with dedication. I believe that either I may live or not but these people will keep performing and producing good plays. The whole cast of this play is very good.
What is the central idea or the main theme of ‘Haaf Playt’?
A man can spend his life easily if he limits his desires according to his income and resources. One spoils his life when cry for moon or desires rule over him. This contentment is diminishing in our society and that is why people use unfair means to fulfill their desires. Wishes beyond one’s resources destroy one’s peace of mind and finally the family life.
Your every play carries a reference of East Pakistan. What do you say about it?
Had the people of East Pakistan not voted for Pakistan, this country would not have come into existence. We never accepted East Pakistan as our part. Before the separation there were more products which were exported from East Pakistan. Bihari living there also considered themselves more of West Paksitan than of East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan were very good people. In fact, East Pakistan was separated on the day when Prime Minister Nazmudin was removed from the post. Even the present rulers are not taking care of the remaining part of Pakistan properly.
Is there any student you passed these skills of writing with which you are blessed with?
There are almost hundred TV channels and any young actor who performs in one play considers himself equal to Abid Ali or Qavi Khan; whereas in reality one has to dedicate his life to get that particular status. And as far as acting and writing are concerned, these fields have no final destination and have no end. I used to get seventy five rupees only for writing Aangan Tehra. When I was writing Studio Dhai and with that doing many other works like writing songs, making their musical compositions besides anchoring a program, I was paid Rs 800 for all these. But I had no objection even though at that time I travelled by bus. But now-a-days people pay less attention to work and more about money.
Your feedback about the play and the audience?
The response which I get from Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad is marvelous. Especially, it reflects the love for theatre that people of Lahore have that not a single day the hall remained half-filled. It is even packed in rainy evenings. Secondly, people were laughing even on those dialogues on which I was not expecting. So it is pleasure for me that people were constantly laughing for almost one and half hour in this time of tensions.
Any message for the reader?
People should stop telling a lie and always speak the truth. When one speaks the truth he forgets soon but a lie once told has to be remembered for the rest of one’s life. And never deceive to anyone.