The play attempts to explore the philosophy and thoughts of the controversial author Saadat Hasan Manto, one of the most controversial Urdu writers. It is post-partition era and Saadat is living in Pakistan now. A journalist is visiting from India to interview Saadat. She is intrigued by same questions as are the readers. Who is Manto? Was Manto only interested in cheap publicity? Did Manto know any of his characters personally? Why he wrote such vulgar and unsettling stories? And, more… The play also has acts where two of Manto’s stories are performed – Toba Tek Singh and Kali Salwar, while a small scene plays short piece of another story, Thanda Gosht.
Like Ek Mulaqat, Shekhar Suman again delivers a flawless dialogue delivery with passionate performances – as Manto, as Toba Tek Singh and short-scene where a couple’s relation is mimicked. Suchitra is also good but the role of interviewer has nothing much to offer till the end. Her portrayal of Sultana is well done. Stage is setup in a room in Manto’s house and the right part of the stage (left section of the image) also doubled as Sultana’s house and, the Lahore mental hospital.
Unlike Ek Mulaqat though, Ek Haan does not connect audience to Manto. Manto and his though process still remain enigma to me, even after watching the play. The short stories are performed well, but add little to central premise of the play. I also could not find any supporting evidences of the last scene. [Disclaimer: I do NOT know EVERYTHING, and I may well be wrong].
Overall it is an average play with good execution. The lighting is spot-on and there is the grandeur to the play. The singing by Rekha Bhardwaj is good to ears. That said, there are much better (biographical) performances, like Jauhar, Shabdleela, Ek Mulaqat… which one can choose to watch over this.
AglaPlay Verdict: An average play with good execution AglaPlay Rating: 3/5 Language: Hindi / Urdu / Punjabi Duration: 1 Hour 30 Minutes (Approx., NO Interval) Writer: Neha Kargeti Director: R R Roy Cast: Shekhar Suman (Manto), Suchitra Krishnamoorthi (Journalist), Neha Kargeti (Anwari), Amit Ghosh, Vikas Tiwari
Below are a few relevant links.
Other Links Ek Haan Promo Review at Mid-day Manto Wikipedia