New Delhi, Jan 18: After sports, theatre has become the next victim of the tensions between India and Pakistan. Two of the most talked about productions – both by Pakistani troupes – at the NSD’s annual theatre fest have been cancelled due to “concerns about the artistes’ security”.
An official of the culture ministry, that manages the National School of Drama (NSD), put the decision to the tense relations between the two countries in wake of clashes along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, saying “it was not safe for the troupe to perform in India”.
The official said the ministry feared that the plays could become target of communal rage given the charged emotional scenario.
NSD chairperson Amal Allana also said the decision was prompted the “fact that they could not provide adequate security to the troupes”.
“Mantorama” and “Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh” were collages on the life of iconic Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto by the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) Repertory Theatre and Ajoka respectively.
Zain Ahmed of NAPA Repertory Theatre said the cancellation reflected Manto’s life as he faced gag during his lifetime on expressing his views.
“Mantorama”, a biographical anthology of Manto’s life, is an onstage rendition of incidents of Manto’s life, writings and incidents that made an indelible impression on his life like the
writer leaving his birth place, his life after his wedding, the lawsuits against him and his migration to Pakistan.
The play brings on stage slices of his short stories, “Hatak” and “Thanda Gosht” in interactive dialogues with the writer in a “unconventional format”.
Theatre personality Maheeda Gauhar said creative people across the border could not be at the mercy of the political complexities between India and Pakistan.
“It is shocking. The NSD should have put in adequate safety measures for creative people across the border, who are trying to bring peace between India and Pakistan,” Gauhar said.
Rauf Afridi, one of the main actors of “Mantorama” said the troupe was willing to perform under every circumstances, but the government’s decision muzzled their fate.
A NSD official said “the Pakistani artists were on their way home”. “The money for the tickets have been refunded after we were informed that the plays had been cancelled,” said the official.