The scene at Faiza Saleem's Auratnaak Show is always very similar. People start queuing up to purchase tickets and start getting seated almost an hour prior to the show, just so that they are able to squeeze in. Whether the venue is the fairly spacious T2F, or the cosier alternative, Thotspot, many people are always left stranded at the entrance, unable to get in.
The recently concluded show, titled 'Thanda Choola', was no different. Inspired by the famous 'Khaana Khud Garam Karlo' slogan seen at the Aurat March and the subsequent reactions to it, five funny ladies decided to take matters into their own hands and try to answer back to the patriarchy that is so heavily engulfed into our DNA.
Sana Khan Niazi, Annie Shamim, Hiba Thobani and Ayesha Tariq spent close to two hours reminding us why women can be opinionated and funny at the same time.
It was made clear from the very get go that the Auratnaak Show is a scripted, stand-up comedy performance, much different from Saleem's second comedy endeavor, the Khawatoons, Pakistan's first all girls improvisational comedy troupe.
Hosted by the very hilarious Faiza Saleem herself, it was Tariq's closing performance that simply stole the show. Refreshingly honest and emotional, this 'jazbati aurat', as Tariq is known as in the comedy circle, was able to put her vulnerabilities on display for everyone to relate to. She spoke about her social anxiety in situations where families tend to fake-laugh their way through inappropriately sleazy jokes, her relationship with her cat, Babu and the horrors of writing only one successful book over a span of six years. "For all those wondering why I haven't written another book is because I don't know how to write. I just got lucky earlier," she joked. Tariq is the author of 'The Suppressed Anger of the Pakistani Obedient Daughter'.
There were other socially relevant topics that were touched upon in the entirety of the show. Thobani shed light on how liberals judge her for wanting to wear a hijab and how she was added to the lineup so that the Auratnaak troupe could have some diversity. Niazi spoke of selective feminism and how some women tend to turn the feminist switch on and off according to their needs. Shamim was able to paint a rather vivid image of what it's like for a woman to travel alone on a train. "I decided to travel solo because YOLO", she said to an audience erupting in laughter.
There were other various issues picked up. For instance, how boys are treated differently than girls in the same household. "My brother and I had the same rules growing up. For instance, we had the same curfew. We had to be home by 11. Of course, for me it was pm and for him it was am," commented one comedian.
Saleem seems to be growing from strength to strength as time goes by and that can be proven with her plethora of hilarious projects, one of which includes Doodhpatti with Dadi series, that recently featured Hania Amir. While the comedian wasn't performing a set this evening, she did take the mic to give introductions to each of the performers and managed to make that part extremely memorable.
She also chose to end the show on a slightly serious note. "Sorry to get all serious towards the end but I'm sending you guys back the same way you came, depressed and unhappy," she joked. But Saleem took the opportunity to explain why the show was called 'Thanda Choola'. "There are problems that exist outside of Defence and our elitist bubbles and those problems are very real. There are women who've been killed because they couldn't make perfect gol rotis or because the husband came home to find his wife hadn't heated up his food on time. Behind the slogan hides a very real issue: domestic violence and abuse. So when these issues are being picked up, please don't belittle them or trivialize them," she urged.