Eleventh hour cancellations: Indian govt drops curtain on Pakistani plays

Published: January 18, 2013
“Authorities informed NSD’s Director that it would not be appropriate to hold plays in this kind of atmosphere,” says A K Borooah. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK

“Authorities informed NSD’s Director that it would not be appropriate to hold plays in this kind of atmosphere,” says A K Borooah. DESIGN: ESSA MALIK


The aggression on the Line of Control (LoC) took a toll on the performing arts, as the Indian government dropped the curtain on Pakistani plays to be staged in New Delhi – hours before they started. 

On Thursday morning, an emergency meeting took place at New Delhi’s National School of Drama (NSD), with the administration speculating whether the plays from across the border would be staged or not.

By noon, the school had its answer; the Indian government directed NSD, to call off the performances, and make arrangements for refunds for those who had bought tickets in advance.

Ajoka’s “Kaun Hai Yeh Gustakh” and National Academy of Performing Arts’ (Napa) “Mantorama” were the plays from Pakistan, to be staged in New Delhi as part of NSD’s Rang Mahotsav on 19 and 17 January, respectively.

“Authorities informed NSD’s Director, Anuradha Kapur, that it would not be appropriate to hold the plays in this kind of atmosphere,” said A K Borooah on the school’s behalf.

The Indian government was unambiguous about its decision, no public functions, which involve Pakistani participants, should be held, for fear of the current law and order situation.

Ajoka’s play, which was to be staged in Jaipur earlier this week, also got cancelled after India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) threatened to hold demonstrations against Pakistan at the venue.

Expressing her disappointment, renowned artist Madiha Gauhar told The Express Tribune: “We travelled soon after the Mumbai attacks and performed in New Delhi and Kerala and nothing of this sort happened. This is very unprecedented and shocking.”

Napa, on the other hand, performed a musical excerpt from their play Mantorama at a literary festival in Kolkata before coming to New Delhi.

The troupe’s three months of strenuous rehearsals went in vain, as they were barred from performing at one of Asia’s biggest theatre festivals.

“I think we have succeeded,” Rauf Afridi, one of the main actors in the play told The Express Tribune.

“We were willing to perform under all circumstances, but their government [dropped] the curtain… we are still ready to perform.”

Tour leader and cast member, Akbar Islam, had gotten the set designed and wardrobe checked a night before the performance, and was shocked by the sudden announcement.

“The younger actors are severely disappointed, and rightly so, they all worked very hard for this,” Islam said.

Zain Ahmed, the faculty member representing the 26-member cast in India, was disheartened by the cancellation on the eleventh hour.

“It is unfortunate that the state is unwilling to promote cultural activities,” Ahmed told The Express Tribune over a telephonic conversation.

“Performances can be an effective device to defuse tensions [in the region] but [as] always, culture and sports were the first to suffer.”

Napa’s senior faculty member and veteran actor Rahat Kazmi expressed his disappointment. “We are supposed to promote peace, equality and tolerance, but in return the hatred is in bad taste, I am extremely disappointed. I hope the political shenanigans don’t affect the arts &culture scene in the future,” Kazmi said.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Raja
    Jan 18, 2013 - 5:11AM

    If one goes by the type of Indian response this time, it won’t be difficult to conclude the response to any future Mumbai type attack. Surely there will be an all out war and even nuclear retaliation from Pakistan won’t be able to deter India. It is therefore time for Pakistan to wind up her terror machinery and behave like a normal nation.


  • Mika
    Jan 18, 2013 - 5:43AM

    How many films and dramas we have stopped on our channels?


  • John B
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:39AM

    And PAK blames India.?

    Pak shamed Vajpai once, and now MM Singh. If India PM, who invested the last 10 years for Indo-Pak cooperation and friendship utters that it is not business as usual with PAK, then PAK should understand where India stands.

    The clock is set back three to four years and lot of things can happen in PAK during that time. In worst case, it may not be any better than what it is today and India can resume the talk at her own choosing.


  • Bala
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:44AM

    As an Indian, I am sorry guys, I do not see why these events need to be cancelled. We have a problem with Pakistani Security Establishment and the Pak govt for not even conducting an investigation on why an indian solder was beheaded .But we have no problem with pakistani people ,,esp with pakistani visitors touring india.


  • Polpot
    Jan 18, 2013 - 7:28AM

    Gandhi is no longer the role model
    The same culture that represents these plays does also accept beheading .
    Hence the termination.


  • vasan
    Jan 18, 2013 - 10:09AM

    Raja: What response do u expect from India for the brutal beheading of Indian soldier, whether it is by Pak army or by Pak army supported murderers. Keep twiddling our thumbs ?? We do not want any war. But Pak cant get away from such stupidity unscathed.


  • O2
    Jan 18, 2013 - 10:31AM

    this is real India, they believe in hatred not peace.


  • chandran
    Jan 18, 2013 - 10:43AM

    dont worry once things are cool down you are all wellcome back because we are your neibourly people


  • Homa
    Jan 18, 2013 - 11:18AM

    I think pkistani players and artistes should go back to theirown country and put pressure on their own government and military to stop anti india activities. Their tax money is used by their govt and military to conduct harm to india. They should go back and make themselves useful in their own country and bring out change and evolution there.


  • Anand
    Jan 18, 2013 - 11:26AM

    This sort of reaction is not right at all. Whatever happens both countries have to promote cultural exchanges.Being an Indian, as much as I am enraged with the killing of our soldier in such a brutal manner, we Indians cannot hold the players, artists and cultural ambassadors of Pakistan responsible. In fact i think we should increase the cultural exchanges and visits after some extremists try to disrupt peace. That will be the best answer to them.

    Appreciate if most Pakistanis hold the same sentiments. I know there will be many who think otherwise on both sides.


  • gp65 .
    Jan 18, 2013 - 12:22PM

    @John B: “Pak shamed Vajpai once,”
    Twice actually. Once in 1999 when the Lahore bus trip was rewarded with Kargill. Vajpayee tried to make a fresh start with Musharraf in Agra 2001. Musharraf went behind Vajpayee’s back and gave a completely aggressive breakfast interview to Indian journalists that was contrary to everything that was agreed behind the doors. Thus an agreement which was waiting to be announced went unsigned and Musharraf had to go empty handed which he rewarded with Parliament attack in Decembe 2001.


  • Happens
    Jan 18, 2013 - 1:29PM

    Very good response by Indian gov .


  • Avik
    Jan 18, 2013 - 3:38PM

    The biggest enemy of war and those who monger it, is peace.. Do all to curtail peace and matters of normalcy and chances for confrontation are raised. This form of protest sends the message that there is not only an objection with the government but also with the culture, the innocent people, the arts, and all principles for which the nation stands. India is unwittingly diving head first into this trap.


  • Jai
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:07PM

    Who died to leave you in charge of diplomacy?


  • abs
    Jan 18, 2013 - 6:12PM

    Sickness in few heads prevail what a pitty what a shame!!!!


  • Salman
    Jan 18, 2013 - 7:37PM

    Slap on those who celebrates & idealize “Aman ki Aasha” & so called enlighten artists. Thanks a lot India for showing them the right stuff! Salute India!


  • gp65.
    Jan 19, 2013 - 12:24AM

    @Salman: “Slap on those who celebrates & idealize “Aman ki Aasha””

    When a soldier is beheaded and his head taken away as a trophy – where is Aman?


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