NEW DELHI: As a foggy Delhi moved with its own pace, hundreds of feet scurried towards the Constitution Club Annexe here today to take part in the 29th Safdar Hashmi Memorial.
Organised by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), the day-long event commemorating playwright and actor-activist Safdar Hashmi witnessed cultural performances by the likes of TM Krishna and Madan Gopal Singh, as well as art exhibitions and documentary screenings.
Marking the 25th anniversary of the Babri Masjid Demolition, was an exhibition titled "Beyond Disputes: Landscapes of Dissent". It featured works by over 40 artists.
Sahmat also displayed its previously showcased exhibition "Hum Sab Ayodhya" by Ram Rahman, alongside fresh works by the photographer.
Remembering Comrade Safdar Hashmi! pic.twitter.com/BoZAopytF1— CPI (M) (@cpimspeak) January 1, 2018
"The Parched Earth", curated by Ram Rahman, showed portraits of peasants and farmers from across the country taken by college students.
The annual event marks the dastardly attack on a group of street theatre activists in 1989, which eventually claimed the life of Safdar Hashmi.
Sohail Hashmi, historian-filmmaker brother of Safdar, told PTI that "Safdar is more relevant today when attack on creative freedom has become the biggest threat".
"Anybody who is fighting for the people's right, be it through art, theatre, literature or music is relevant today.
Safdar was killed while performing and a similar thing is happening now. People are forced not to speak their minds, eat what they want, watch or read what they feel like," he said.
Filmmaker Virendra Saini's "Ayodhya" was also screened focussing on the city's life and an underlying message - "Ayodhya belongs to everyone".
Madan Gopal Singh, singer-composer, said that for the last 29 years Sahmat has tried to keep alive what Safdar had started.
"It's all about Safdar. Safdar believed art belongs to the masses and everyone was his friend. He wrote a lot, he did so many plays. And it was always about the common people, the labourers and communal harmony," he said.
Talking about the increasing threat to creative freedom, Singh said "counter hegemony does not die so easily".
"On one side we have people who are afraid, on the other there are those who will do it anyway. The scene today is pretty bad with films, books, art getting banned, people getting killed for it. But those who want to speak out will do so nonetheless," Singh said.