A true story from Baltistan: Forced marriage culminates on tragic note

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 5:00:10 by



The National Drama Festival kicked off with a riveting Urdu play ‘Akhri Shikaar’ (last kill) based on a true story of love and loss from Skardu, Baltistan. Directed by Batin Farooqi, the play speaks to the image of the ‘voiceless’ woman whose opinions or choices in life are immaterial, as she is simply an emblem of her father or husband’s pride and honour.

TV actress Lubna Shehzadi plays the lead role of Shandanay who is having an affair with Dilawar (Dildaar Khan) who refuses to let her settle in to her newly married life with Jabbar (Batin Farooqi), who is known as the ‘King of Hunters’.

Despite Jabbar’s overtly macho personality, he tries to find the reason for Shandanay’s depression after their marriage. However, his efforts to understand her end abruptly and he forces her in to traditional customs such as asking her to wear a flower in her hat when he leaves the house as is customary.

Shandanay is constantly juggling her relationship with her husband and lover and is not content with either. The plot thickens when Jabbar has a hunting accident and claims he has lost his sight. He maintains the charade until his suspicions are proven true and he finds his wife with Dilawar.

Jabbar’s last bullet pierces through Dilawar’s chest, but Shandanay screams that she is in fact Jabbar’s last kill, as she completes a downward spiral into madness. She declares that she is not a criminal but was turned in to one when she was forced to marry Jabbar, as she could not defy her father. Her loyalty to Dilawar made her disloyal to her husband, while her marriage was viewed as a transgression by Dilawar.

The play is a first in a series of 22 plays at PNCA that will run till 29th December and will depict cultural stories and folk tales from around Pakistan.

Earlier, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) Director General Tauqir Nasir said that PNCA is committed to making Islamabad a cultural hub by bringing artists from across the country with their own cultural values, traditions and social themes and that the National Drama Festival-2011 is one such effort.

When asked why PNCA is limiting such festivals to the federal capital and not taking the festival to Rawalpindi, Nasir answered, “Other old towns and cities have a developed cultural tradition, and people know the history of each brick laid on their streets. Islamabad is a new city, and it needs support to establish a reputation as a city with vibrant culture.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2011.

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