2 January, 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of playwright and director Safdar Hashmi’s sudden demise.
A man with a thousand faces, Hashmi was known for street theatre or nukkad natak in India, where he would often freely oscillate between the roles of actor, writer, director, lyricist, theorist, and at times, even political commentator.
As Safdar Hashmi Trust Memorial or SAHMAT (which was formed by artists, writers, activists, photographers within weeks after his death to defend artistic expression), geared up to put up cultural programmes on Hashmi’s death anniversary, we spoke to his brother Sohail Hashmi at Lutyens’ Canning Lane. Listen to the podcast.
“As a child he used to create stories, he would spin all kinds of tales,” his elder brother, Sohail Hashmi said. “His favourite was the story of a jinn, who he claimed was his friend.”
Sohail Hashmi also talked about how his brother and other members of JANAM or the Jana Natya Manch came together to perform their first play Machine.
Hashmi’s plays often carried strong commentary about the political situation in India and it can be said that he died doing what he loved the best. Hashmi was fatally wounded by a mob led by Congress’ Mukesh Sharma on 1 January, while his play Halla Bol was being performed in Delhi’s Jhandapur. He succumbed a day later from his injuries.
“The issues of communalism, attack on democracy, attack on freedom of expression had begin to gather steam at that time and they have reached a stage today where the forces who represented these attacks are in control of political power today,” Sohail Hashmi said
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