‘Ali J’ was scheduled to be staged at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday. Evam, however, was informed by the organisers of the fest on Wednesday that the performance had been cancelled owing to security reasons.
‘Ali J’, a play by the city-based theatre group Evam Entertainment that was selected for the ongoing Kala Ghoda Arts Festival in Mumbai, will not be staged following threats of protests from a fundamentalist group.
The play revolves around the life of a Muslim man working in a call centre in Chennai who falls in love with a Hindu woman.
It also deals with themes such as the Gujarat riots of 2002 and terrorism. ‘Ali J’ was scheduled to be staged at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday.
The group, however, was informed by the organisers of the fest on Wednesday that the performance had been cancelled owing to security reasons.
Organisers said the Colaba police in Mumbai informed them about threats received from the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti that termed the play ‘anti-national.’
Karthik Kumar of Evam Entertainment said the team had performed the play at the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai and Ranga Shankara in Bangalore over the past two months. First enacted at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the play was one of 18 selected to be performed at the Kala Ghoda festival. “We received a standing ovation from the audience in Mumbai and rave reviews as well,” said Karthik.
“We suspect someone must have read the reviews and concluded that the play is anti-national, which it is not. The story actually looks at moderate Gandhian values and, in an egalitarian way, wishes partition had never happened,” he added.
Last week, as they prepared to stage the play in Bangalore, the team received threats from the same group.
“They accused us of painting Gandhi in a bad light and glorifying Jinnah. We invited the protesters to come watch the play, but they refused the offer,” said Mr. Kumar.
The team finally did perform the play in Bangalore with support from the organisers at Ranga Shankara and Bangalore police. As a mark of protest against the cancellation at Kala Ghoda, Evam members said they will put up a video of the play on Youtube and keep it online till Valentine’s Day.