Wearing a long leather jacket and a headscarf which gave the impression of popular revolutionary Che Guevara, Mohammad Akram Firoze was busy in the last-minute preparations of his play ‘The Lone Conqueror’ at Delhi College of Arts.
Apart from his appearance, what makes him stand out is that Akram has been hitch-hiking across the country, mixing up his passion for theater and travelling. Through his plays and conversations with people along the route, he is trying to spread his message of a ‘world without borders’.
He set off on his journey in 2011 with limited money in his pocket to support this unusual experiment. “The biggest challenge was to make my family understand this and getting them on my side. Even though I had less money at the time I started, a clear frame of mind helped me manage things,” said Akram.
Ever since he started, Akram has visited various remote parts of the country, meeting people and trying to learn from their experiences. He fondly remembers the truck drivers he took lift from and the interesting stories by people he shared a cup of tea with. Talking about one such conversation, Akram said that he once asked a child in a village at the Indo-Pak border about his thoughts on borders. “The kid replied that when they hear about border, the first word which comes to their mind in enemy or end,” he told.
This idea of borders and their power to divide humans inspired him to fight for annihilating the boundaries. According to him, ‘the idea of a world without borders may seem Utopian but it is something that people need to believe in and strive to achieve.’
An alumnus of Osmania University and resident of Hyderabad, Akram has experimented with various projects during his journey like, ‘Cycle Natak’, Winter on Wheels, Two Wheels of Theater, etc .
Theater at border
After acquiring a world passport, provided under Article 13(2) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states “everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country”, he began his project ‘theater at border’ aiming to cover 10,000 km long Indian border and performing plays for the people who reside in villages in those areas.
Merely a month after he started, on August 13, 2015, he was picked up by the Jaisalmer police as a suspect and was kept under custody for 20 days. “My family’s bail plea was not even considered and it was after support of some activists that the bail plea was accepted,” said Akram.
The incident left a deep impact on his family but did not deter him from his path. “The agony I faced has now made me stronger and motivated me to work even harder for a border less world,” said Akram.
When asked about his long-term goals, he said that he would continue with the same plan of amalgamating theater with traveling. He is looking forward to get support from more artistes who can help him in taking forward the message of peace to a larger audience.