It is not often that Pakistani artists and performers cross the border to promote peace. Even though many Pakistan film actors and musicians have moved to India to try their luck in Bollywood, they have done so mainly for gaining personal fame. But theatre veteran Sheema Kermani’s Tehrik-e-Niswan (Movement for Women) is all set to fly to India purely for the magnanimous purpose of promoting harmony between people of the two countries.
In 1979, a group of women formed Tehrik-e-Niswan to convey their messages on the plight of women and suppressed people. Their first play was staged in a shopping centre in 1981, called Dard Kay Faaslay. Gradually they moved away from seminars and conferences towards cultural activity, it was only last year that Tehrik-e-Niswan celebrated Tehrik Aur Aik Saal, commemorating 31 years of its stage activitism.
Sheema Kermani, who is also a well-known classical dancer and social activist, intends to take her 20-member delegation mainly comprising members of her theatre house, Tehrik-e-Niswan, to the Indian cities of Lucknow, Allahabad, New Delhi and Rohtak. If the travel arrangements go as intended, the troupe will commence its cross-border visit starting July 8.
Giving out details to The Express Tribune, Kermani said, “We will visit India for ten days and our visas are still getting processed. We are travelling to India, on the request of an organisation called Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy.”
She further elaborated that the troupe of actors plans to perform some scenes from the play Jang Ab Nahin Ho Gi, centring on two belligerent clans.
“The women from both clans refuse to become prisoners of war in the aftermath of an inter-clan battle, hence forcing clan leaders to negotiate a peace settlement amongst themselves. It’s a long play hence we are only staging two respective scenes from it,” Kermani added emphatically.
Another exciting factor is the fact that the troupe from Tehrik-e-Niwan will perform dances on Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poetry, as both Pakistan and India celebrate his centennial birthday celebrations. “We will also perform classical dances on Faiz’s poems like “Aaj Ke Naam”, “Shaam” and “Hum Bhi Dekhain Gaay”, parallel to his birthday celebrations,” added Kermani.
Kermani has frequented India several times and hopes to promote peace and harmony through theatre activism and cultural representation. “[The purpose of] my visit to India is to strengthen ties with our neighbouring country, from our common culture, to celebrating literature and music. There is a need for better relations between the two countries, which is our aim and purpose,” says Kermani about her diplomatic mission.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.
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