Showcasing Pakistan in theatre

Sharafat Ali Shah is an institution when it comes to script writing, direction and acting. His passion for promoting Pakistani theatre in the UAE is endless. Sharafat Ali Shah is an institution when it comes to script writing, direction and acting. His passion for promoting Pakistani theatre in the UAE is endless.


Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

Published: Mon 13 Aug 2018, 3:06 PM

Last updated: Mon 13 Aug 2018, 5:09 PM

Sharafat Ali Shah is an artist par-excellence. He has made a mark for himself, and is among the very few who have risen by virtue of their passion and commitment to arts and culture. Moreover, Khan is Pakistan's 'ambassador at large' when it comes to promoting his country's artists and their talents abroad. For around two decades, he has served the cultural mosaic of the UAE at his best by enacting theatre and drama, and that too by picking talent locally.
Shah is a playwright, actor, director and a versatile anchor. He literally ruled the mini-screen, television, with his emotional and carried-away role-specific performances. He had a stint in films too. But his heart was always in theatre and drama. It was not an easy decision for him to continue focusing on a trial-laden stage-drama, but he stood by it. While being associated with the hospitality industry in profession, he made every effort to promote artists.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that his flair for drama and stage performance has made him a social scientist, as he has penned dramas and stage shows on issues directly related to the common man and the class-ridden society. Two of his best theatres that played out for an audience in Dubai - a satirical Breaking News, and educational based stage play Good News.Com - are worth mentioning. The latter was an hour-long one-stage, two-set sensational play that portrayed how life dwells for the poor and those born with a golden spoon.
Shah started his career from Radio Pakistan in Karachi, and his mesmerising voice was once reckoned as an identity tag. He rubbed shoulders with celebrities such as Yawar Mehdi, Moin Akhtar, Haider Imam Rizvi, etc., and gradually set theatre as a parallel profession. From Bazm-e-Talaba programme to heartthrob television series such as Chand Girhan, Shah was a thumping success. His other iconic plays were Sassi Pannu, Naange Pawoon, Poora Chand, etc., which made him an epic of emotions. Shah's lyric delivery is firmly in control, and he leaves no stone unturned when expressing emotions and body language with that of the character, making it spellbound.
Shah's another debut was his parallel theatre, where he had performed in evergreen epochs such as 'Bakra Khistoon Par' (Goat on Instalments), a comedy at his best with the legendary Umer Shareef.
Since 2002, when he made Dubai his abode, his vision for harnessing local talent for theatre made new inroads. In 2003, he was made the cultural coordinator and pavilion administrator by the Consulate of Pakistan in recognition of his services to promote stage activities. Shah made it a point to invite the who's who of theatre, music and films to Dubai, and rally them at Dubai's Global Village around Pakistan's Pavilion. It was such a huge success that in no time the pavilion became among the most visited areas with the best of theatre dramas performed non-stop throughout the season.
The celebrity makes no qualms in crediting the Pakistan Association Dubai for the patronage and generosity it had shown towards culture promotion in the UAE. One of his marvelous drama was a sensational after-thought as to how the fairytale love story of Heer-Ranjha would be in "this era". It was an instant success on stage in Dubai, and gathered audiences at the pavilion. He played the role of aristocrat Waris Ali Shah in it.
Shah had his hands-on Amphitheatre as well. Another of his articulate drama was with Umer Shareef and Ali Haider, which was witnessed by an audience of more than 14,000 in Dubai.
While elucidating his love for theatre, Shah says, "It helps instantly in promoting culture on two counts: picking the best available local talent for acting, and stirring a greater audience for viewing artistic activity instantly." He says theatre is the most effective medium, and there isn't any parallel to it. This is why Shah's articulation is writing script, personalising lyrics delivery, harnessing talent, directing plays and performing them. This all-in-one role of Shah makes him an inevitable institution and an accomplished artist.
He is busy writing his third play to be performed in Dubai, and says that it is based on the theme of nationalism, as to what is the contribution of an individual in it.
What makes Shah a 'people's actor and director' is that his performances on Dubai's stage are free of cost. "The intention is to promote Pakistani culture, art and talent, and that is my dream," a humble Shah reiterates. This is why his plays are direct, sensitive, message-oriented and heart-touching.
He exclusively makes it a point to praise the services of Brig. Javed Hassan, the Consul General in Dubai, and Rana Samar Javed, Head of Chancellery, who are always forthcoming to his initiatives to make the cultural mosaic of Pakistan more vibrant and expansive.
Shah dreams of creating an institution for acting and script-writing, and hopes that adequate resources would be mobilised to make that happen. 

Sharafat Ali Shah
Sharafat Ali Shah

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