On October 10th for World Day Against the Death Penalty, Sarmad Khoosat took to the digital screens for a 24-hour live streaming video.
In a one take, no edits video stream he demonstrated the gut-wrenching and painful moments of an inmate up till the final hours of his execution. Playing Dr Zulfiqar Ali who was kept in jail for 17 years wrongfully and then later hanged, Khoosat has proved his worth as a method actor.
The stream was watched by people across the country and appreciated for its raw format and the heart tugging performances given by each member involved. The video was streamed in 7 parts and the final stretch showing how the inmate rocked back and forth with the idea of his own demise hanging upon his head.
The makers of the video used various elements of literature and philosophy to demonstrate how one incorrect decision taken by the court resulted in the torture and death of someone who had a great deal to contribute to the state. Khoosat’s depiction of the horror and the constant state of torture is inimitably heartbreaking and demonstrates the inner workings of someone who knows his time is calculated.
Irfan Khoosat plays his father and delivers with the same impact the raw and helpless emotions of a man bidding adieu to his young son in jail with the awareness that nothing can be done to save him.
His long conversations with the cell in charge, the police personnel, his activities within the cell involving washing up and cleaning the floor, praying et cetera all serve as a painful reminder that when one knows they are merely waiting for the final bell to ring, everything is futile.
Khoosat’s character takes to the floor as well to quote timeless poems like “The Road less taken” by Robert Frost and is shown lost in calculations of a life unlived. It is a painful insight that left several completely heartbroken and shook. The depiction was a revelation of many as Sarmad sits on the floor time and again staring into space either lost in the life he missed or the death that was about to be encumbered on him.
Throughout the stream, people left comments sharing their thoughts and opinions. It was these comments that serve as an eye opener for a lot of us.
A vast majority was completely unaware of why Khoosat was conducting this activity in the first place. Several were unaware of his intentions and took it as lightly as a drama being played on a television channel.
Others took to ridiculing the flaws they saw on set and refused to understand why the performance was important in the first place. The ignorance and lack of character displayed by the viewers was only a semblance of what the population believes in and merely reinforced the incentive behind Khoosat’s activity.
Several users also took to Twitter to laud Khoosat with praises and appreciate his own psychological journey towards depicting a character who was so elusively and overtly in a state of torture.
If anyone ever in any doubt about the supremely problematic nature of the death penalty, @KhoosatSarmad ‘s #notimetosleep should have shaken them to their bones. If it didn’t, then not sure anything ever can.
— Zebunnisa Burki (@zburki) October 10, 2018
The fact that a lot of well educated people including lawyers are finding #NoTimeToSleep eye-opening only confirms that such an exercise needs to be carried out frequently.
But more importantly it shows how disconnected modern education remains from life.
— Asad Jamal (@LegalPolitical) October 10, 2018
It is important for us to be able to talk about the many happenings of our country that either make us comfortable or queasy in our own skin. In an act of self-defence, not only did a young man lose his life and his aspirations, a father lost a son, a wife lost her husband and two daughters lost their father without ever being given the true opportunity to get to know him.
Been dipping in and out of #NoTimeToSleep, a live performance of the final 24 hrs in the life of a death-row inmate. In awe of Sarmad Khoosat’s stamina, his skill, but most of all his fidelity to the pain of Prisoner X. This is a huge undertaking as an artist. Thank you, Sarmad.
— Mira Sethi (@sethimirajee) October 10, 2018
Putting up performances that challenge norms and force us to come face to face with the injustices of the system can serve as a revelation for the many activities that occur without one knowing their true cause.