It was the first day of the year and a packed hall at Constitution Club resonated with the words Imagine theres no countries,it isnt hard to do,nothing to kill or die for,and no religion too,imagine all the people living life in peace. It was the 25th memorial anniversary of Safdar Hashmis death on January 1. Hashmi worked towards the idea of a nationwide cultural movement that reflected the struggles and experiences of Indians through street theatre and plays. It comes as no surprise that guitarist Deepak Castelino chose John Lennons Imagine to mark the ocassion.
Organised by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) every year,the day-long programme brings together artists,musicians,writers,theatre people,filmmakers and other cultural activists to remember 34-year-old Hashmi,who was attacked in broad daylight by political goons during a street play performance in Sahibabad,on the outskirts of Delhi. Since Hashmis death,our main issue has been anti-communalism and curbing the rise of communal political forces. Our action against it has been in the form of contemporary,folk or traditional culture. Even if an artist is not a politician,this is his way of reasserting his progressive cultural ideas, says Ram Rahman,one of the founders of Sahmat.
Contemporary choreographer Astad Deboo presented Every Fragment of Dust is Awakened,where he twirled like a dervish,bringing together fine handwork and kathak pirouettes. His other performance Surrender,inspired by the words of a poem,was set to a dhrupad composition by Italian vocalist Amelia Cuni. He brought on stage the magic of body and fine balance,his movement almost as if he were dancing with the wind. The other performers included singer Parvathy Baul,filmmaker Shabnam Virmani,Sufi singer Madangopal Singh and Dagarvani dhrupad singers Gundecha Bandhu.
Master puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee told the legendary story of Heer and Ranjha through Heer Ke Waris,which opened with a scene of how the doomed lovers fell in love and followed their journey as they basked in the glory of unconditional love,undeterred by boundaries,religion,creed or caste.