Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Safdar Hashmi

I recently watched the movie "Salim Langde Pe Math Ro" and the movie started with dedications to "Safdar hashmi".The movie made me think about him, thought i will introduce this great theater personality to people who didn't know about him.

On 1 January 1989, Safdar Hashmi and his comrades in Jana Natya Manch were performing a street play in an industrial township just outside Delhi. Municipal elections were due in Uttar Pradesh, after a gap of more than a decade. The performance was at Jhandapur, where one of the candidates in the election was Mukesh Sharma, a local factory owner-cum-small time goon, close to the then ruling party, the Congress (I). I remember how the bright winter sun lit the brick-paved streets of Jhandapur that Sunday morning.

As Mukesh Sharma's procession arrived where the play was on, Safdar requested Sharma to take another route and come this way later. In response, the actors were attacked with sticks and iron rods. Safdar was singled out, his head bashed in, and left for dead. A factory worker, Ram Bahadur, suspected of giving refuge to leaders of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), was shot dead at point blank range.

Safdar, aged 34, died in hospital the following night. By then hundreds had gathered at the hospital in a spontaneous show of solidarity and protest. Fifteen thousand marched at his funeral on January 3, the largest funeral ever for a theatre artist in Delhi. Protest demonstrations swept the country, and several hundred thousand marched in dozens of cities and towns.

On January 4, less than 48 hours after his death, Moloyashree, Safdar's comrade, companion and wife, led the actors of Jana Natya Manch to the site of the attack and completed the disrupted performance. The play was called 'Halla Bol' ('Attack'), done in support of striking workers. The image of Moloyashree in performance, fist raised in quiet defiance on the spot where Safdar was felled, remains a stirring, inspiring image.more

Safdar's killing unleashed a wave of grief and rage in India. The funeral procession was a nine-mile-long serpent of artists, workers, students -- people from every fragment of a fragmented nation. The play that had been interrupted by his murder was performed on the first anniversary of his death in towns and cities throughout India. Safdar's wife, Moloyashree, was also a member of Jan Natya Manch, Safdar's theater troupe.

"Hashmi's triumph," one journalist wrote after his death, "was that he reached the people. Perhaps that is the one sin the political hoodlum will not forgive in an intellectual".more


It is pathetic that our judicial system took 14 years to convict the killers of safdar hashmi.

"The spontaneous protest after the murder led us to form the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), an umbrella organisation of painters, writers, theatre-persons, film-makers who try to reconfigure cultural symbols in an activist manner," .more


Very nice and different post Sen. I'm glad that you put it here. People as such would never die and would keep inspiring. There are so many other example such as him. Media don't want to mention their name anymore, politicians wants to forget them.
yep.He is an inspiring personality, not only for the common man, also for so many great personalities in the art circuit.
shud be the inspiration for AnbeSivam. Though the protagonist there did not die ;)
you are right.kamal himself has told many times that his character in anbe sivam was an inspiration of safdar hashmi...

check out this links
nandita das I believe was a member of safdars troupe for a long time.
Its important that we look at safdar as a crusador , as the activist that he was. It is important that we dont always paint him in red.
I agree, my idea was to introduce another inspiring personality.Didn't mean to paint him in red.If u r talking about the picture.That was the only picture of his funeral available on the net.
@TJ -- A practical communist of our time won't behave the way Kamal was in the movie 'Anbe Shivam'. :-) But that was how a communist supposed to be.

@Pawan -- I wonder how come most of the activists are leftists. There must be something in the communist ideology to inspire them. :-)
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