‘Conversation 2016’ shakes you up with its honesty

Conversations 2016 pays homage to the city of Karachi. PHOTO: FILE

Conversations 2016 pays homage to the city of Karachi. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Monotony replaces excitement when one resides in any city for too long. Naturally, you lose yourself in its daily humdrum while the wake-work-sleep routine depletes your sense of wonder. Things begin to look and feel monotonous; nothing stirs your soul anymore. To quote U2, you’ve gotten stuck in a moment and can’t get out of it.

And then, all of a sudden, it happens. You are given a sudden jolt, an awakening of sorts in the form of a tragedy: an unexpected encounter; a new romance or the loss of one. This is particular of a city like Karachi, where there is never a dull moment.

Now, Karachi is no New York, where film-makers and artists would kill to visit. Nor does it come close to Paris, where the Siene River has helped many a novelist work on their masterpieces. But Karachi is Karachi — a mine of a city where diamonds are not scarce, just concealed.

Conversations 2016 — a modern contemporary dance drama by Sunil Shankar and Joshinder Chaggar – pays homage to this very trait of the city. The performance depicts the multitudinal layers of Karachi, which only the true Karachiites know and understand. At the face of it, everyone can see the traffic, the chaos and the anxiety of having to deal with it all. Then there is the blatant obnoxiousness and hidden depravity. But only the ones who accept this depravity are welcome to bask in Karachi’s most beautiful hidden alleys.

Entitled A Love Letter to Karachi, the play is a depiction of all that makes up the city. The narrative shows an outsider coming to Karachi for the first time and experiencing the different shades of Pakistan’s biggest metropolis. And as the play progresses, slowly and gradually, she becomes the city.

The 14 dancers — led by Shankar and Chaggar themselves — become different aspects of the city. Vajdaan Shah, Abdul Ghani, Cyril James, Kashif Hussain, Abdul Aleem Shekhani, Shabana Hasan, Syed Amir Ali Naqvi, Almas Fidai, Muneeb Baig, Mahesh JD Maheshwary, Syed Arsalan and Najma Kifayat, all become your hawker, the familiar waiter at a nearby dhaba or the biker you swear at for whizzing past you in traffic.

Shankar does a tremendous job of embodying the sea with his fluid body movements. The audience also witnesses a contemporary version of dhamaal, with a contemporised version of some Bharatnatyam steps. A routine taken straight from the making of the popular local dish Katakat is also incorporated into the performance.

In totality, Conversations 2016 shakes you up with its honesty. Due credit should be given to musician Ahsan Bari who has composed the score for it. The genius of Bari shows not only in the upbeat parts of the soundtrack, depicting the chaos of city life. It also shines through the toned down, low-pitched, almost-murmuring soulful music which intensifies the melancholic nights that lie deep within the city’s underbelly.

What is of importance is the fact that Conversations 2016 is more than the sum of its parts. If you are a born and bred Karachiite, the performance will surely revive your love for the city that most of us have started to take for granted. It will make you look at the dilapidated sidewalks, the dust clouds, the noise of Saddar’s bustling streets and the quarrels between a rickshaw driver and street vendours with newfound appreciation. The show goes on until August 14 at the FTC Auditorium. If you are looking to embrace your city once again, Conversations 2016 is a must-watch for you.

Original news : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1155858/conversation-2016-shakes-honesty/