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Tipu Sultan retold by GCU Dramatics Club

Lahore: The Government College University, Lahore Dramatics Club (GCUDC) Thursday staged a special bilingual (Urdu and English) play “Tiger of Maysore” based on the life of Tipu Sultan at the university’s Bokhari Auditorium.  “In the traditional story that everyone knows, Tipu Sultan is the consummate holy warrior who is a victim of treachery at the hands of Mir Sadiq and Purnea. Our play follows the same storyline but it shows Tipu as a human being; a fallible ruler, an unbending idealist and a politician of limited acumen. You will see him like you’ve never seen him, it is going to be Tipu Sultan retold,” said GCUDC President Yousra Anwer while talking about the play.

The play is written by Sameer Ahmed, who teaches Drama at the English Department of GCU. It was directed by Dr Salman Bhatti and Dr Atif Yaqub. Music was arranged by Muzammil Shabbir and lighting by Farhan. Omer Dar was convincing in his portrayal of Tipu. Abdullah Waleed Hashmi played the dominating Mir Sadiq and Talha Akhter was impressive as the crafty Purnea. The performance was glued together by the Sultan’s royal and chorus members Mehran Siddiq and Ali Butt. Queen Ruqqaya Bano was played by GCDC president Yusra Anwer and the king’s favorite kaneez was played by Sufia Sarwar.

Talking about the play, Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Muhammad Khaleeq-ur-Rahman said that theatre had an important function to reform the society, and all universities should play vital role for reviving culture of quality theatre in the country. He said that the GC Dramatics Club was established in 1890’s during the tenure of Prof. Bell as Principal of the College. In that period, the Club mostly staged scenes from Shakespearian plays but this was seldom of elaborate nature. Gradually, it came into its own and produced legendary thespians and playwrights like Rafi Peer, Imtiaz Ali Taj, Zia Mohyeuddin, Shoaib Hashmi, Naeem Tahir, Qayum Jojo, Asghar Nadeem Syed, among others. I am hopeful that the GCDC will continue put on a memorable show,’ Prof Rahman added. He said that eminent Old Ravians from all walks of life were invited to watch the play. He said that the complete show of GCU Dramatics as no technical or any other kind of support was hired from outside.

Talking about “Tiger of Maysore”, Sameer Ahmad says that the play shows the native zeal of Tipu Sultan; despotic, superstitious, sentient, and heroic, as he struggles with the English, his family and with himself. The last independent ruler of princely states in India persists in a relentless struggle to challenge the ever-expanding East India Company. His advisers and close family members are convinced it is a futile effort as the English represent a superior civilization. Rapidly losing allies and territory, Tipu struggles to keep his wits about him in an intense real-life drama.

The play begins at an annual exhibition at the Victoria Albert Museum in London, with waxen effigies of characters from the fourth Anglo-Maysore War on display. The characters parley over history and representation. Mir Sadiq is offended at being dubbed a traitor in Indian accounts of the War of 1799.

With sequences out of Tipu’s real-life Book of Dreams, philosophical ramblings of the chorus, Wellesley’s march of progress and Tipu’s obsession with the most ferocious tiger in his pride – the ‘Tiger Royale’ – the play gradually builds up to the final moment; seconds before the English are about to enter Tipu’s fortress. The audience are left to decide if Tipu and a handful of his comrades were right before the curtains close: ‘Sometimes a moment is worth a lifetime.’ The play also featured a live qawwali by talented musicians and singers from GCU’s Nazir Ahmed Music Society.

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