Theatre

Citizen Reviews: Baghdad Wedding

Smooth transition

“There are two types of women in the world – Dull and Excruciatingly Dull”. These are part of the pearls of wisdom showered in the play Baghdad Wedding. In an extraordinary structural tour de force the play delves into the experiences of three Iraqis with a western influence, battling a clash of cultures on their return to their homeland after the overthrow of Saddam Hussain. Exemplary acting replete with accents and impeccable set design take all the brownie points. The moments of glory came in the form of a smooth transition of emotions: light and heavy; and an amazing way to showcase the flashback. That is cinematic and truly brilliant. But all that glitters is not gold and there’s a flip side to this play – the length could have been trimmed and some scenes gave a typical Bollywood-like aura that makes it unpalatable. Finally, the ending is a syrupy, tear-jerking ode to love stories. In a nutshell, if there’s a play that’s entertaining and enthralling, that’s Baghdad Wedding.

Raja Satish

Banjara Hills

A splendid beginning

Akvarious productions presented a splendid show on the first night of The Hindu Theatre Fest 2012 by taking the audience to a different journey of time and place through Baghdad Wedding. The plot captivated audience throughout, with comments on cultural, political and sexual aspects of life. The success of the script lay in giving the audience an experience of the pain of the characters, crossing all boundaries. The characters proved their mettle with their versatility, bringing emotions, comic timing and zeal in equal measure. The technical aspect of the drama complemented the efforts on stage as did the impact created through sound, lights and costumes at various settings — party-life, bunker and interrogation camp. In all, the play was a treat to drama-lovers of Hyderabad, making them more eager for the forthcoming plays.

Dattaprasad Shirsat

Hyderabad

Beyond Ray too

I was in Ravindra Bharathi yesterday for Baghdad Wedding. I am over 60 and either this country, mera Bharat, has gone modern, far beyond the USA, or I am an anachronism. I did not expect a paper like The Hindu to get involved in this type of tamasha. You had young girls liberally mouthing four-letter words at the drop of a hat. For all the years I have been living, I failed to understand how one part drifted to the next. May e you need a Satyajit Ray to explain the sequence. Or maybe it is beyond him too.

G.G.K. Murty

S.R. Nagar

Why this wedding di?

Why did I go to see Baghdad Wedding?” Despite the synopsis, what celebratory event was I expecting? And in spite of the excellent and slick production values exhibited (light, sound, stage design, movement, music), why did I come home asking these questions? Why this Baghdad Wedding, di? What did the play really wish to say? Don’t get me wrong — I did get the message — I’m not stupid! If it had not been war-torn Baghdad, could it have not been any other war-torn country (Korea, Vietnam, or any of the similar Mid-Eastern-Eastern countries)? Does homosexuality have to be paraded on the streets? Do attitudes, religious, social need to be flaunted so traumatically?

Am I the one who is out of sync with the times, if this is ‘modernity’? Should I be seeing such plays?

Meena Murdeshwar

A good start

Baghdad wedding a 120-minute play that gives a peek-a-boo of the life of three Iraqis in US torn apart by triangular love, religion, politics and war. The play is packed with sarcasm and political irony, exemplified when a critic judges a kebab at a funeral. So are the dialogues powerful: “A wedding in Baghdad isn’t just the same without a round of bullets.” and many more, keep you glued to the seats.

Set on a simple stage and the effective lighting, the play takes you from London to war-torn Iraq. It runs smooth till you encounter the tortures of the prisoners which give glimpses of reality. Finally who wins his love, makes the rest of the play. The cast and crew is commendable. Cheers to them! Perfect for a first theatre experience!

Anuhya Nagireddy

A powerful curtain raiser

Baghdad Wedding starts with a wedding and ends with a wedding. In between it painfully meanders through a carpet bombing, a funeral, a dead bride, a mangled bridegroom, kidnap, torture, destruction and dominance against the backdrop of a vast azure sky and the serene moon over a terrace in war-ravaged Baghdad. It evocatively moves over to London, Salim, Marvan, the women, the Iraqi doctors and engineers, the whisky, the drink.

Salim is the pain, anguish, angst and intense hope of Iraq. A country found, lost and perhaps to be found again. In his tale lies the significance of the Baghdad Wedding, the kaleidoscope of human hope and tragedy. The portrayal is intense. Direction is powerful, especially after intermission, when it evokes intense imagery and acute formations. Lighting is wonderfully frugal; the bombing and the soft white moon over the terrace stand out in artistry. Stagecraft is powerful with shades of desert grey, darkness and intensity capturing a complex mosaic of emotions between hope, anguish and human helplessness.

On the whole Baghdad Wedding is a powerful curtain raiser to this year’s ‘The Hindu MetroPlus Theatre Festival’

Lingaraj Mahapatra

Banjara Hills

Bold and intense

A facile and adaptable set enhanced with a poetic light design and surreal music takes you down the alleys of Baghdad, creating a multi-layered and an emotionally gratifying experience. Hassan Abdulrazzak’s Baghdad Wedding is a bold and intense portrayal of relationships that key characters share with each other and their country. The narrative shifts between times with ease and presents paradoxes that often challenge the human mind. The detailed characterisation results in a multi-tiered premise showcased by superlative performances. Baghdad is treated almost as a character sharing a love-hate story with the protagonists. Akarsh Khurana’s rendition of a nostalgic journey is definitely inspiring and praise-worthy.

Ankit Bakshi

Ameerpet

Medley of emotions

Incense burning in a calabash, minimalist stage setting and authentic Iraqi music serenade you instantly as you step inside the auditorium. The play Baghdad Wedding, brilliantly directed by Akarsh Khurana chronicles the lives of three London-returned Iraqi youngsters caught in the melee of coming to terms with the anarchy that war brings. The primary characters Salim, Luma and Marwan deal with a medley of situations — love, homosexuality, cultural affinity, power play, westernisation and insurgency with an overarching theme of death. How the youngsters deal with these against the backdrop of war forms the story. The intricacies and the perplexities result in disillusionment and a broken heart. The perpetual craving to return to one’s land of birth, fond memories of nights spent stargazing on rooftops juxtaposed with the missile strikes by the US army, the habitual grief of the Iraqis — the play certainly evokes a multitude of emotions!

Sharmada Shastry

Venkatgiri

Acts played well

Kudos to the whole team of Baghdad Wedding. Just watched the play accompanied by my Papa for the very first time at Ravindra Bharathi. The play was superb. The amazing performance by the actors has enriched the whole play.

Baghdad Wedding puts out the agony of Iraqi’s life, suppressed during the turmoil of war. The play also covers the contemporary aspect of lives of Iraqi students who live abroad aspiring to be engineers and doctors but want to return to their motherland to serve their people despite the turbulence. The other interesting part of this play is the unwarranted and wrong detention of Salim by the US army.



The melodious music in the background, the ascent, the growing consensus among Iraqis in tandem to the modern lifestyle, increasing bisexuality, accompanied by the tradition and culture, the sets and light effects, the performances by the actors and the well projected direction made the play simply fabulous.

Yusuf Hayath

Gandhi Nagar

Engaging play

Baghdad Wedding by Akvarious Productions was an engrossing play that explored the torments and dilemmas experienced by young people migrating from their homeland. Estranged both in their homeland and in their foster home, torn between the choices of making a difference in their home country and realising their dreams in a land that offers them hope, the characters in the play collectively embodied the struggle to establish their identities, find true love, and find hope in a situation of endless despair. Although the themes of migration and war have been explored by numerous creative works before, with its dark humour underlined by gloom and despair, brilliant acting by the cast and a clever use of lighting and stage setting that took the audience back and forth in time through the memories of the characters, Baghdad Wedding made for a tight and tense two hours.

Ramachandran Chidambaram

Banjara Hills

A real connect

If anyone were to write a book on the safest ways to go to Iraq, the. Baghdad Wedding would top the list. With only a bunch of stools, sheets and a few lights, Akarsh Khurana manages to replicate a city soaked in conflict and succeeds in lacing in a comical and emotive episode of three friends while doing so. This is accomplished through several tricks of parallel narratives — a construct hard to achieve in theatre, yet brilliantly carried out. The interval-division of the play revealed several imbalances in the two parts of the play, thus foiling the experience of the journey of the plot. Although the play could’ve fared better without an interval and a few edits, it accomplishes in smuggling in moments of laughter and emotion, leaving you elated by the end.

The play establishes the audience either as a native or an outsider. Baghdad Wedding kept me busy being both. Quite a wedding night.

Emmanuel Anthony

Lakdikapul

Thought provoking

Baghdad Wedding was an entertaining, thought provoking and well-executed joyride. This is the kind of play that gets people into theatres. A good story is the backbone that brings together the directing, acting, casting, lighting and stagecraft as the connective tissue to make an attractive body. In this play, the story follows the protagonists (all Iraqi youth) halfway around the world as they go through the rites of passage; studying to be “doctors or engineers” in London, smoking pot, having sexual encounters — bisexual, in some cases — and then returning to Baghdad around the time when Operation Desert Storm hit Iraq.

The cultural and physical devastation of the offensive forms the backdrop to the drama of our protagonists’ lives - a wedding ceremony is blown apart by an American strike, a lady doctor suffers a failed marriage, there is unspoken love which finally, poignantly, ends as unrequited love, and some new directions emerge. The actors were largely successful in sounding and looking like Iraqis speaking in English. The utilisation of the stage, as well as the lighting and soundtrack, all added to the experience. Akvarious of Mumbai, take a bow!

Prasanna Karmarkar

An insightful journey

Baghdad Wedding is an insightful journey into the culture, traditions and heritage of a war-ravaged country. The play is richly sprinkled with humour; the characters are clearly defined and the narration sets the smooth flow of the play. The peril of the characters and the predicament of the country cling on to your heart long after the curtains are drawn. The love story depicts the feeble ray of hope even in times of great despair. The play manages to challenge mighty Uncle Sam and his already unpopular foreign policy. The lighting complements the play and the music score gives a certain authentic Iraqi vibe. The second half does seem a little prolonged; trimming it by 15 minutes would perhaps have further consolidated the effect. All in all, it was a play worth celebrating. The Theatre fest could not have started better.

Harsh Vasani

Minister’s Road

As good as cinema

My first tryst with theatre could never have been so wonderful even in a dream. Baghdad Wedding is as emotionally mesmerising as Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life and has a narrative as intensely captivating as Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. The comparison I make here with cinema is because theatre manages to be as effective a medium of story-telling as cinema is. Akarsh Khurana gets everything right with the play, from a beautiful setting to an excellent cast, everything is just about perfect. I have always wondered why theatre actors are highly rated or hyped when they work for films, but now I realise they are a class apart. To be effective performers when in close proximity with the audience, more so with no retakes is just amazing. I recommend theatre to all art lovers in the city and congratulate The Hindu for organising an exceptional theatre fest which is like a boon for students like me.

E.A. Abhishek

Loyola Degree College

Authentic in style

They smoked, they cursed and they kissed on stage. We laughed, we almost cried and we were definitely blown away, not by American missiles but by witty sense of humour. The director took possibly everything that is blasphemous in Iraq and very smoothly wove a rug and placed it over Baghdadi land. The spectrum of characters was wide — from too sharp to too blunt — and the chemistry between them with overtones was very realistic. The accent makes you ponder on whether the production has called in actors from Baghdad. Possibly the best play I’ve seen.

Shokran Akarsh

A perfect blend

What was Baghdad Wedding all about — a country raped by the Americans? A wedding bombed? Cool, witty dialogues? Soothing music? A stage set in shrouds? A minaret symbolising religion stands tall; yet does not moralise or preach? Defining sexually? The acceptance of changes and a love triangle/ circle? An awesome performance by each and every actor? About bohemian young Iraqis who desire to see stars and bats in the sky? The first play of the season was a near perfect blend of all this and much more. Initially, the smoke and the stage seemed gloomy but as the protagonist Salim swaggered in for his wedding followed by the hassled Marwan and the rest of the cast, Hassan Abdulrazzak and Akarsh Khurana invade, occupy and liberate our minds. Yes, Hyderabad is ready to stay ahead of the Times, roll out the stimulating plays The Hindu, we are hungry for more!

Deepa Kesavan

Vidya Nagar

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 9:01:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/theatre/citizen-reviews-baghdad-wedding/article3848176.ece

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