[Reader-list] Gujarat censor board bans Maulana Azad play

Faizan Ahmed faizan at sarai.net
Tue Nov 18 16:40:37 IST 2003

      Gujarat censor board bans Maulana Azad play


            MUMBAI: In a move that has upset theatre circles, the Gujarat
 Censor Board has banned the performance of Sayeed Alam's historical play
 Maulana Azad in the state.

             The Urdu production, which explores the patriot's views on
 politics, music, jasmine tea, Mecca and Gandhi, was scheduled to play on
 November 9 at Ahmedabad's Darpana Academy run by Mallika Sarabhai.

             A week before that, however, a letter from the censor's office
 arrived stating that "in the present circumstances" a performance of the
 play would not be possible. The team was unofficially told that if the play
 was performed " hungama ho jayega".

             Those involved say that the decision could be part of the
 campaign to target danseuse Mallika Sarabhai who has been singled out by the
 Narendra Modi government for speaking out against alleged state atrocities
 during last year's Gujarat riots.

             Produced by Ashok Curang's Pierrot's Troupe, the play, which
 features Tom Alter in the lead role, has performed in Mumbai, Delhi, Dehra
 Dun, Mussoorie and Hyderabad without the whiff of a " hungama". "The censor
 board did not tell us specifically what they found objectionable about the
 play- whether it was the theme, title or dialogue," says Mr Alam, who is
 based in Delhi.

             "The play has been reviewed by almost every major paper in the
 country and there's no mention of anything controversial."

             Mr Alam feels that what the censor board may have taken
 objection to is one line in the play where Azad,who is dictating his book
 'India Wins Freedom' to Humayun Kabir says, 'To a large extent Sardar Patel
 was responsible for Partition.'

            Submitted by Asad Ahmed, Ph.D. (Aligarh '61), Edmonton, Canada


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