Theatre Play Investigation Cell Makes You Want To Think!
Written By Omair Alavi
The Karachi Theatre Festival is making waves at the Karachi Arts Council where a variety of plays are being staged for entertainment-deprived audiences. Plays from renowned local playwrights as well as adaptations of international dramas are part of this event that kicked off on 1st October and will continue till 18th October 2020. It was on one of these days that Kulsoom Aftab’s Investigation Cell was staged, and the tragi-comedy did the unthinkable – it made the audience think about their own life and choices.
What Investigation Cell is all about?
Investigation Cell revolved around the lives of three individuals – a playwright (Kulsoom Aftab), a fanatic lady (Aasiyah Alam) and a person claiming to be Barack Obama (Vajdaan Shah) - who are arrested and brought to the ‘investigation cell’ for investigation. The on-duty officer (Faraz Ali) tried reasoning with them at first but when they refused to cooperate and accept their crimes, he uses his superpowers to bring out their alter egos (Fehmida Baloch, Junaid Awan, and Asfandyar respectively) and cracked the cases, one by one.
How is the Investigation Cell valid in this day and age?
When Jamil Dehelvi’s film Jinnah was released, people criticized Shashi Kapoor’s character as he played a sort of angel who takes back Quaid-e-Azam into the past and lets him assess his life, his decisions, and their impact. Similarly in Investigation Cell, the protagonist (Faraz Ali) uses the alter egos of each criminal in front of him to make them realize their crimes, and how it should be rectified. With each and every actor performing at his or her best, including the alter egos, Investigation Cell kept the audience’s mind running from start to end, making them assess their lives.
How was the Investigation Cell different from other plays in the festival?
The best thing about Investigation Cell is the fact that it was an original creation of Kulsoom Aftab, who not only wrote and directed it but also acted in it. She is apparently the heir of the legendary Dr. Enver Sajjad and displayed her craftsmanship in all departments. Not for a moment did the audience felt that the play was a drag, and they were too busy to look at their watches during the 90-minute play. The Pakistani connection with ‘Obama’, the radicalism that we experience every day, and the clash between the ‘good’ woman and the ‘bad’ one are discussed openly, prompting the audience to look for answers in their own lives.
Performers to watch out for in Investigation Cell
Each and every actor in Investigation Cell keeps the audience (and their interrogator) confused so much so that the audience starts believing them at some point. However, Faraz Ali as the interrogator had other ideas as he comes in prepared, and catches all suspects off-guard with his superpowers that no one had an idea about. He talks to Vajdaan Shah who plays the Obama impersonator (of course he was an impersonator!) as he believes him until he starts breaking him down with his investigation techniques. In the case of Aasiyah Alam who plays the radical burqa lady, he tackles her the way she wants to be tackled, unreasonably, and authoritatively. And finally, there is Kulsoom Aftab’s playwright who is the last one to break down, thanks to the wonderful performance of her colleagues on stage. The alter egos were, after all, the exact opposite of the suspects but the way Asfandyar, Junaid Awan, and Fehmida Baloch performed, it made the audience understand what went wrong and where it went wrong for the suspects.
Investigation Cell is just what the doctor ordered!
With two original music Tracks by Mariam Desai and a dance sequence between two characters, Investigation Cell is more than a tragi-comedy. It is a complete package that should be viewed again and again. A few years back I saw the play at T2F but when I experienced it again on a better, bigger platform at the Arts Council, it seemed like an entirely different play. There were some dialogues that could have been trimmed to make the script family-oriented, but hey, life is tough and so were the dialogues that explained the philosophy of life through the characters. One hopes that Investigation Cell is staged sooner than later so that more people can get entertained and realize that even their minute decisions matter later in life.