Saturday, June 25, 2005

Curbs on Jinnah play raise creative hackles


Surf 'N' Earn -Sign innow

NEW DELHI: The deferment of Mr Jinnah, a play on the life of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, by Delhi Police on Tuesday has invoked anger amid theatre persons across the city. They consider this as a curtailment of their right to freedom of speech and expression.

"The police have no business to interfere in our profession. Even if the script has any element of controversy, it cannot be stopped from being performed," said M K Raina, a theatre person. "I think, the police had not even tried reading the script. They are just playing politics," he added.

Devendra Raj Ankur, director at National School of Drama (NSD), said the play has nothing to do with L K Advani's comments on Jinnah. "The script was written about two years ago and rehearsals have been going on since two months or so. It is just the timing of the play that has led to controversy. Had it been played some time back, hardly anyone would have even come to know of it," he said.

According to the director of Mr Jinnah, Arvind Gaur, the script just revolves around the personal life of Jinnah. "It is about his confrontation with his father and daughter and how, as every other human being, Jinnah had both good and bad qualities," said Gaur.

"Generally we never submit our scripts to police. This is the first time we were asked to do so. Even then, we obliged and suddenly on Tuesday morning they say they cannot read the script and thus will defer the play. Isn't it wrong?" he questioned.

Some students of NSD feel that this move only shows how regressive society is. "I don't know what the play is about, but even if it is controversial, what is wrong in it?" said Durga Sharma, a pass-out of NSD.

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