`Dil mein jo dar ka kila hai, thod do andar se tum’.
``Break down the fortress of fear that you have in your heart.’’
Twenty three years after he was killed, revolutionary dramatist Safdar Hashmi’s words still resonate thunderously through his wife Moloyshree Hashmi.
Carrying forward the legacy of her husband through their street play group `Jan Natya Manch’ or `Janam’, Ms Hashmi continues to fight against oppressive social regimes and right wing forces that took her husband’s life during broad daylight one January morning.
``The fight against oppression has to begin from within. The question has to be first raised by the individual. The more frightened we are the less we do,’’ said Ms Hashmi talking at an open forum organised by Kerala Sthree Patana Kendram here on Sunday, in connection with the CPI(M) State Conference.
``Communalism today is far more complicated. It has links to so many mundane looking things. It has links to even the aspirations of people. Right wing thoughts have been nurturing under the surface. I don’t think theatre alone can change the society. Changes can only be brought about by social movements,’’ she said.
Ms Hashmi said that while she preferred not to talk about how her husband’s death affected her personally, professionally what she felt was an urgency to carry forward his work.
``Suddenly there was this void. Safdar was a multifaceted personality and his sudden death was difficult to comprehend. But we soon realised that we had no other option but to continue his work,’’ she said.
Speaking about the participation of women in performing arts Ms Hashmi said that more and more young women were coming forward to join the group. However, there are still issues of opposition from family and society.
``Aspirations of young women have increased over the years. So many people want to act in films and serials. Women are lured by the attractions of money and fame. But at least they are stepping out of homes,’’ she said.
Ms Hashmi said that she did not face any discrimination or feel any insecurity while performing on the street even after dark. ``I have never felt intimidated by the audience. Audience are our strength. Even though they might not agree with us they will be listening and participating. So there is no insecurity as an artist. But if I am walking alone in the street after dark I will be a little careful,’’ she said.
She said that when she joined Jan Natya Manch there were very less women and so very few roles for women. But now more are coming forward. She said around 50 percent members at Jan Natya Manch today are women.
``We are constantly making changes in our scripts to accommodate strong women characters. Our plays do not have one hero or heroine but many voices. Recently we staged a play based on Tagore’s novel `Chathurang’ to mark his 150 birth anniversary. It is really surprising that this 100 year old novel has a very modern take on womanhood and women’s empowerment,’’ Ms Hashmi said.
Speaking about her hometown New Delhi, where she is based, Ms Hashmi said that insecurities of women in Delhi have only gone up over the years, as in the rest of the country. ``Still there are more number of women fighting this aggression simply by being part of the mainstream, working in shift duties at night and sharing public spaces during night time. Women today are not necessarily un-afraid but they are also not so afraid to sit at home,’’ she said.
Keywords: revolutionary dramatist