Burqavaganza Satire: The Drama About the Drama

Posted on May 24, 2007
Filed Under >Omer Alvie, Culture & Heritage, Society, TV, Movies & Theatre
86 Comments
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Guest Post by Omer Alvie

[This satirical account is inspired by the real-life drama about the Ajoka play Burqavaganza in the Pakistan capital; See The News Editorial; Gulf News op-ed; a Daily Times report on the original play, and other press coverage.]

So this is how it all happened. Ajoka, a non-commercial theatre group committed to the cause of social change in Pakistan, unveiled its new play Burqavaganza last month in Lahore. The satirical play, written by Shahid Nadeem, addresses the issue of the burqa (veil) and highlights the double-standards and hypocrisy of the feudal/tribal mindset. The aim was to use humour and satire to challenge the cultural status quo and to provoke people to think for themselves.


The audience thoroughly enjoyed the show and the play received positive reviews in the press. But the most surprising response to the play came from a rather astute group of individuals belonging to the MMA (more popularly known as Mullah Military Alliance). Inspired by the success of the Burqavaganza, five extremely talented MNAs decided to perform their own impromptu over-the-top ‘dramaâ⠂¬Ëœ in the National Assembly. The play imaginatively titled Fanativaganza (by yours truly), was a staged rebuttal to the Ajoka group’s play.

Substituting the use of satire, the inspired MNAs opted for provocative language and violent hand gestures to ridicule the writer of Burqvaganza and the Director of the Ajoka theatre group. Apparently, to these five highly sensitive and pious individuals, the Burqavaganza play was clearly un-Islamic, enough to be classified as blasphemous. Although, it has to be clarified that these days, any critique, criticism, aspersion, censure, swipe or nitpicking of the norms and practices of these religious extremists will likely lead to a blasphemy charge, even if it is a comment regarding the general unruliness of their beards.

One minor clarification here, they cannot be called religious fundamentalists. This is because they fail to grasp the fundamentals of the religion they claim to be following. ‘Nuttersâà ¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ is more appropriate and generally my preference.

The MNA performed drama did not get a positive response from the public or the press, but it did manage to get a standing ovation from the Minister of Culture, who subsequently announced a government ban on the Burqavaganza play to show his appreciation for the drama queens of the national assembly. He was so moved by the MMA performance that he additionally promised further government actions against the key members of the Ajoka Theatre group. I have to admit, as a Pakistani citizen, hearing this news brought a lump to my throat. It wasn’t that I was emotional, it just happened to be part of the process of me regurgitating my last meal, as I got sick to my stomach.

It is clear now that the government’s attempt at promoting ‘enlightened moderation’ in reference to religion has not been very successful. Actually, that is an understatement; it has been an unquestionable, resounding failure. I do admit though that they have managed to create an era of (religious) ‘moderated enlightenmentâ€℠. When your faith is judged by the size of your beard or measured by the length of your veil, you are in serious, serious trouble!

Omer Alvie is a Pakistani residing in the UAE and writes, often satirically, on his blog The Olive Ream. He also writes about the Pakistani blog scene at Global Voices. This post was first published at The Olive Ream.

86 responses to “Burqavaganza Satire: The Drama About the Drama”

  1. asimkhan says:

    criticizing burqa is making fun of islamic rituals.veiling is the order of ALLAH PAK.if people r agnst burqa its bc they dnt understand the logic behind it.

  2. menu/exit says:

    [quote comment=”49984″][quote comment=”49976″]Pervaiz Munir Alvi bhai … you’ve made a valid point although it’s the other way around. The non-religous secularists are imposing their ideals on the religous with such antics.[/quote]

    Wow..how many “religious” have “non-religious” killed so far? At the same time how many fellow Muslims have been killed by the “religious”? Care to count? Too many.

    MQM like parties were formed by Zial ul Haq, the “ameer-ul-momineenâ€

  3. Adnan Siddiqi says:

    Proud Pakistani: it’s all natural because majority of state population is muslim. I also say this is not only with pakistan. Nobody in Israel would talk about minority christians and arab muslims who also live in that region. Atleast I believe you are not lesser Pakistani than any muslim while I myself witnesses the contribution by minority community like parsis in the development of Karachi.

  4. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:

    Nasir: You have capacity of being silly. We hope you are not serious.

    Pseudonym ‘Proud Pakistani’: We are with you all the way.

    Adonis: You are right. We all are Pakistani. Our religions are a private and personal matter. All this discussion here at ATP about Islam and Quran is needless. In twenty first century we are talking about something that happened in Arabia one and half millenium ago. It reminds me of the bible thumping evangelists here in the West. Same medieval fundamentalist mind set. Stuck in the past and afraid of the future. BTW. I was intrigued by your ‘name’, so I looked it up. Very interesting. Here it is:

    “A handsome man in Greek mythology. in Greek mythology, a handsome youth loved by Aphrodite and Persephone. He was killed while hunting boar, but was allowed by Zeus to divide his time between Aphrodite on earth and Persephone in the underworld”.

  5. Adonis says:

    Pakistan is definitely for all of us.

    Thats why we have to be Pakistanis first and then muslims or christians or hindus.

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