SAF-India Cultural Committee meeting to prepare a South Asian Theatre Festival, New Delhi

23rd March 2009
Meeting to discuss holding of South Asian Theatre Festival in 2009

In the wake of terrorist attack in Mumbai, it was proposed by a number of theatrical groups, both in India and Pakistan, to jointly hold a number of theatre festivals in East Punjab, starting from Preet Nagar and extending it later to other regions with the  hope that this initiative would help to bring the peace process on course which was derailed following the Mumbai attack.  

The Meeting, held at SAF-India Office, New Delhi, was attended by several theatre personalities from India and Pakistan. SAF India Cultural Committee was associated with this meeting represented by Smt. Syeda Hameed, Smt.Vidya Shah and  Dr. G.M.Khawaja. Delegates from Pakistan include Mr Faizaan Peerzada, Ms Madeeha Gauhar, Ms Sheema Kermani and SAF-Pakistant Chairperson, Prof. Salima Hashmi. Participants from India include:  Mr. Vijay Dhar, Mr.Sukirat Anand, Smt. Uma Gurbukh Singh, Mr. Kulbir Singh Suri, Mr. Kewal Dhaliwal, Mr. Kirat Sandhu, Mr. Tarique Bhat , Mr. Kuldip Nayar, Mr. Sahiljet Singh Sandhu, Brig (Retd)  Virendra Saxena, Mr M.Amin Bhat, Mr. Sameer Arora, Mr Gurcharan Singh. From the SAF side, Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, Mme France Marquet, Mr. N.Ram, Mr Karan Khosla and Mr P K Prabhakaran attended the meeting.  

Shri Mani Shankar Aiyar, SAF-India Chairperson, who was to chair the meeting could not make it. The meeting, after the initial remarks by Ambassador Madanjeet Singh, was jointly chaired by Prof. Salima Hashmi and Dr Syeda Hameed.  

Several issues in the organizing of the festival were discussed.  It was broadly agreed that the Festival is aimed to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and amity by attracting the younger generation by adapting contemporary and local folklore traditions. The points that emerged in the discussion were :

  1. There should be a convergence mediums like documentary films, TV, Video, laser and perhaps even a programme with MTV channel.
  2. At the south Asia level, it must extend to capture audiences in Bangladesh and even Sri Lanka, making it a traveling and mobile festival.
  3. It should be a consistent campaign and should not be restricted to a one theatre event.
  4. A festival, being a social tool, should not be a restricted activity.
  5. Saanjh, with its vast experience and tremendous vision of traveling, has offered their support. Must look at strengthening this partnership to take theatre to different regions.
  6. To ensure development of a modular content, especially to garner local support.
  7. The programme should eventually be performed in Kashmir, as the youth in Kashmir is craving for something new.
  8. Theatrical activity should work like a therapy. A theatre event must be followed by a workshop for the people in the area. The architecture of this event must be such that people from the South Asia region are involved as stakeholders. The SAF festival must have a South Asian statement.
  9. The festival should Kick Off from Preet Nagar in Punjab and then extend to Kashmir and then to the entire South Asian Region.