Professor Haris Qadeer
M.A English Final-Semester IV
13 April 2015
Safdar Hashmi was an actor, lyricist, communist, playwright and director who hold a very important place in the Indian political theatre. He is best known for his work in street theatre. He graduated from St. Stephen College of University of Delhi, and became associated with the cultural unit of the student’s federation of India and IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association). Hashmi was a symbol of cultural resistance against authoritarianism for Indian left-wing. He desired to promote traditional Indian arts and liberate ourselves from the colonial and imperialist culture. He founded Jana Natya Manch (People’s Theatre Front), acronym Janam (birth) in 1973. It was created to continue the work of IPTA. In the initial stages, there were no formal membership and because of lack of funds, the members used to fund their own theatre. Their first performance was in Bangla. Mrityur Atit which was a version of Irwin Shaw’s Bury the Dead. They performed it during the durga puja which helped them to earn Rs 500-1000 as their performance fees, which was enough to establish their theatre. The group toured in various parts to perform and raise funds- they had makeshift stages, no specialized lights and the availability of loudspeakers also varied from place to place and time to time. The place, action, theatrical conception, production and presentation are essentially revolutionized in the street theatre like Janam. It is a political theatre of protest which would express the suppressed voice of the mass and inspire people to fight for their cause. The audience was a very important factor hence the place chosen by the members of Janam to perform their plays were factory gates, outside schools, university campus etc. It rejected the traditional theatrical props like make ups, sound, light, verbosity, stage decorating etc and performed the plays in the simplest...
Bibliography: Ghosh, Arjun. A History of the Jana Natya Manch: Plays for the People. New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 2012.
Lal, Ananda. Theatres of India: A Concise Companion. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2009.
Erven van Eugene – Plays, Applause, and Bullets : Safdar Hashmi’s Street Theatre
Deshpande, Sudhavana. Safdar Ke Baad Janam Ka Safar , Nukkad Janam Samvad. N.p.: n.p., 1998.
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