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An Indo-Palestinian ‘act’ in Mumbai

In a unique artistic collaboration, Palestinian and Indian theatre artistes will come together to stage a play on the conflict in the Arab country at various locations in Mumbai from Monday.

Delhi-based Jan Natya Manch and Freedom Theatre, based at the Jenin refugee camp in Palestine, have come together on shared beliefs in political theatre and themes of oppression and find a strange resonance with the similarities in the killings of their founders.

The manch’s founder Safdar Hashmi was murdered in 1989 while performing a street play Halla Bol . Juliano Mer-Khamis, founder of Freedom Theatre, was shot dead in 2011 outside a theatre in Palestine. “So there is the emotional connect,” Sudhanva Deshpande, director with the Delhi-based group told The Hindu .

The groups will stage the play Hamesha Saamida (Forever Steadfast), an open-air production which aims to bring the reality of Palestine to the Indian audience.

“We both do political theatre, which speaks of oppression and social realities. India and Palestine have a long relationship of support and solidarity. From Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, India has supported the Palestinian cause. That apart, we connected through theatre. We linked their work and they liked ours,” said Mr Deshpande, who is also the co-director of the play.

The play has been staged in Lucknow, Bhopal and Delhi with Mumbai being their fourth destination.

“We would like to make an impact in India about what is going on in Palestine. We want to bring the voice of Palestine to the streets of India, because we have so much in common — oppression, pain, colonisation and occupation. We believe that art and theatre can enable people to connect and be the place for different cultures to meet,” Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, actor and director with Freedom Theatre told The Hindu .

The play is an initiative of the Palestine Cultural Programme Reception Committee, an umbrella organisation of various socio-cultural groups, trade unions, poets and artistes.

A puppet show and a Debke dance performance will be held as part of the cultural exchange programme on Tuesday.

“Palestine occupation is the main theme of this initiative and about registering protest through the medium of art. There is a need to create awareness about the issue in the new generation,” Subodh More from the committee said.

After Mumbai, the play will travel to Kozhikode, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.


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Printable version | May 24, 2022 10:05:28 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/An-Indo-Palestinian-%E2%80%98act%E2%80%99-in-Mumbai/article13979692.ece