Artistes and intellectuals came together today to remember playwright Safdar Hashmi on his death anniversary and also commemorated the centenary years of acclaimed writer Saadat Hasan Manto and actor Balraj Sahni by paying them rich tributes.
The annual event also remembered sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, who passed away in December. Shankar had composed the music for Indian People's Theatre Association's (IPTA) film on the Bengal famine Dharti Ke Lal directed by K A Abbas in 1946. The film marked the debut of Sahni and Zohra Segal.
A street play by Haryana Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Rohtak combined four poems to probe the history of violence against women in India as the event, organised by Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, urged people to sign a pledge against violence on women in the wake of recent gangrape incident in Delhi, which has triggered widespread public outrage.
Commenting on the issue, Sahmat's senior functionary Ram Rahman said, "Safdar was killed in the broad daylight and that incident had seen similar outpouring of public grief and anger that this incident has seen. We are not asking for change in law because the change should come from within. We are asking people to take a pledge to stop such violence. Gender sensitisation is important."
Sahmat observes first January in the memory of Hashmi, who was killed on this day in 1989 at the age of 34 and since the year 2012-13 marks the centenary years of Manto and and Sahni also, the event remembered these two cultural icons through a number of cultural activities.
Theatre artiste M K Raina had prepared a special visual tribute for Sahni, who contributed a lot to cinema and theatre through IPTA.
"I prepared a three-hour montage on Balraj Sahni, which will have scenes from his films. Khwaja Ahmad Abbas had once said that if there was an award for people's artiste, Sahni would be the most deserving candidate for it. It took me two weeks to put everything together," Raina said.
Sahni's son Parikshit was supposed to narrate it but he was held back due to a shooting. But his niece Kalpna Sahni was present to remember the screen icon.
On this occasion, theatre artiste Neeta Mahindra paid a tribute to Manto by interpreting his famous riot-themed story Khol Do on Sahmat stage.
The event also had performances by Jasbir Jassi, Madangopal Singh, Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, Rekha Raj, Harpreet, Tanveer and Imran Ahmad Khan besides American folk singer Scott Moses Murrey.