Internationally known satirist and playwright Anwar Maqsood told a press conference that “his play Siachen was about the soldiers stationed in that region and not about military officers who had often been the focus of mainstream documentaries and films on the topic.”
He said: “Siachen is about the young people who leave home saying they will return for their child’s birthday or a sister’s wedding. And while those at home wait for them, they never come back.”
He said that while they were often left in the background in mainstream media it was soldiers who were at the forefront in every battle.
“Soldiers are why we are here.”
Employing his trademark wit, Mr Maqsood told the audience they should dress warmly for the play because the hall will recreate Siachen’s environment. He quipped that couples should come to see the play together so they can hold hands for warmth.
He told the audience that the opening of the play had been delayed by two days because of the earthquake on October 26. He then asked those present at the press conference to observe a moment of silence for the victims of the earthquake and said, “We have been saved from a catastrophe that could have been much worse.”
When asked if he would write about atrocities committed against civilians during military operations and about the missing persons issue, Mr Maqsood said they were sensitive and political issues and that before they could be tackled the society needed to develop a culture that facilitated such debates.
The play’s director, Dawar Mehmood, also spoke at the conference and was greeted by animated applause from his cast. Turning to Anwar Maqsood he joked, “I always said I was the more famous one”.
He said the team had employed method acting techniques when preparing for the play. The actors who played the soldiers were placed under ‘house arrest’ and were not allowed to use their phones for several months while they lived, trained and rehearsed together.
He said the actors had travelled to Siachen for a couple of weeks to spend time with the soldiers there.
Mr Mehmood said the military had supported the play and that the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) had not cut anything out from the original play. While productions supported by any institution only portray the said institution in a positive light, Mr Mehmood said Siachen does not do that.
Mobilink Deputy CEO and CCO Anwar Ibrahim said it was the company’s good fortune that they were sponsoring the play, adding that Mobilink was committed to showcasing Pakistani culture and a softer image of the country.
The cast of the play, mostly university students, introduced themselves and the characters they play at the press conference.