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Art takes on an inconvenient truth
NIDHI GUPTA  11th Mar 2012

Namrata Pamnani dances to Gauhar Raza’s poetry

oet Faiz Ahmad Faiz was speaking of the angst of a post-Partition disconnect when he wrote the famous lines Bol Ki Sach Zinda Hai Ab Tak. But the cry still rings true for those affected by riots and partisan violence almost 60 years later. Last week, in commemoration of 10 years of the Gujarat riots, the NGO Anhad organised a day long convention, named on Faiz's immemorial line, in the Constitution Club, Delhi.

In lieu of this tribute, the NGO also organised a cultural programme, where artists, musicians, dancers and writers came together to give nuanced renditions through their particular media of expertise. The day began with a book launch – Lest We Forget History by P.G.J. Nampoothiri and Gagan Sethi. A panel of high-profile persona from the field of politics, academia and arts, including Brinda Karat, Ram Vilas Paswan, Mahesh Bhatt and Vrinda Grover, came together on a panel to discuss and debate issues related to communalism, the journey of the last 10 years, lessons learnt and so on.

The evening had rock band Eklektika and blues band Ska Vengers giving musical renditions, recalling the plight of Gujarat. This was followed by Sanjay Rajoura, the Jat comedian, cracking jokes targeting particular communities. Next, Kathak dancer Namrata Pamnani gave a performance to the tunes of Dhruv Sangari on the tabla and a live poetry recitation by Gauhar Raza.

Bollywood starlets Saba Azad (of Mujhse Fraandship Karoge fame) and Imaad Shah (Dil Dosti Etc.) paid their tribute by transforming some of Safdar Hashmi's poetry into songs and also singing a few old school anthems. While Shah wowed the audience by playing the guitar, a mouth organ and singing at the same time, Azad surprised the crowd with her melodious voice.

Next up were Mehmood Faruqi and Danish Hussain with their famous Dastangoi, an old, revived form of storytelling. For this occasion, they talked, jeered and jibed on the issue of the subcontinent's partition. Told in a typically folksy manner, where they imbibed the accents of Eastern UP and Bihar into their Urdu, they had the audience engrossed with their improvised narrative.

Hashmi, founder of Anhad, said, in this time when the crimes committed in 2002 are being covered up through promotional campaigns, the truth is becoming increasingly obscure, leading to a fear psychosis where people are running away from reality. This sad state of affairs is not restricted to any one community, as was evident from the photo and art exhibition put up by Anhad.

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