The Government College University (GCU) Lahore’s Dramatics Club has staged its annual play “Shair-e-Mysore” on the life and legacy of Tipu Sultan. While Tipu Sultan is celebrated as a freedom fighter against the East India Company, the GCU play presented a much more nuanced, personal and darker side of Tipu Sultan. That is precisely what becomes the most refreshing aspect of the play.

Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Asghar Zaidi attended the opening show and called it a historic occasion signaling the rebirth of student theatre.

“I am so happy that we have put on such a powerful show. The best part is that it is an original play. GCU has produced many wonderful playwrights like Imtiaz Ali Taj and Asghar Nadeem Syed. This play is a homage both to Tipu Sultan and to our wonderful playwrights.” Prof Zaidi also said it was important to remember our heroes like Tipu Sultan, but also analyze their legacy with critical hindsight. “Tipu is our champion against British colonialism, but he was also a human with his own flaws. We should see him as a human and not a saint. That is what this play does.”

In GCU play “Shair-e-Mysore”, Tipu Sultan is shown as both a fierce and determined warrior also an insecure, superstitious individual battling circumstances beyond his control. There is a clear parallel to be drawn between “Shair-e-Mysore” and the works of classical European dramatists. Like most Western dramatic tragedies, “Shair-e-Mysore” presents the story of a man who suffers both because of his mistakes and forces beyond his control.

 “Shair-e-Mysore” begins at a museum exhibit where important characters from Tipu Sultan’s time are shown. These characters come to life and begin to relate the events that led to the fall of Tipu Sultan on May 4, 1799. The rest of the play is in flashbacks.

The play has been written by Sameer Ahmed, an English teacher at GC. It was directed by Muzzamil Shabbir and Zohaib Naqvi. The title role was played by Salman Bhatti, who is chairperson of Urdu Literature at the University of Education, Lahore. The traitor Mir Sadiq was played by Mohsin Masood, and the wily Purniya by Abbas Salotra. Tipu’s wife was played by Anamta Shokat and his kaneez was by Raeesa Riaz.

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