Chennai city theatre group Evam has been ‘advised’ by the city police not to stage its latest play, Ali J, a political thriller based on the partition, at Alliance Francaise on Sunday.
In a letter to the Evam group, the city police commissioner stated that as a Hindu right wing group had opposed the staging of the play, the organisers were advised not to stage it in the city.
The play was recently prevented from being staged by right wing groups at the prestigious Kala Ghoda Art Festival in Mumbai, sparking a huge uproar among the art fraternity as well as on Twitter, where several people condemned the hurdle to freedom of expression.
Evam’s Karthik Kumar, who has directed the play and is the lead actor, said he was feeling “small and powerless” at the turn of events. “What makes it even worse is that there is absolutely nothing worth banning in this play. I will reach out to the entire art fraternity and explain to them what we are facing. This is a sign of growing intolerance.”
The group’s co-founder Sunil Prabhu expressed shock over the police advice. “Similar Hindu right wing groups protested over the play in Bangalore but the police gave us protection and allowed us to stage the play.”
Mr. Karthik Kumar added: “There is nothing audacious about Ali J. But even if it had some controversial content, my freedom of expression must be allowed.”