(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
August 09, 200
Artists Condemn Ban on Charandas Chor
On August 3, a number of artists, cultural organisations and eminent persons came out sharply against the ban on the famous play Charandas Chor, imposed by the BJP government of Chhattisgarh. Issued on their behalf by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), their statement said:
WE are shocked to learn from press reports that the BJP government of Chhattisgarh has banned Charandas Chor, a classic of the modern Indian theatre, written and produced by Habib Tanvir. The play was first done in the 1970s, and is originally based on an oral folktale from Rajasthan. Habib Tanvir worked on this tale, introducing into it elements of the art and beliefs of the Satnami community. Satnami singers and dancers have performed in this play, and it has been seen by members of the community several times. In Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, there are several rural troupes who are today performing some version of this play.
The play itself is the story of a thief who, under the influence of a guru, pledges never to tell a lie. He sticks to his pledge, even at the cost of his life. This superb tragi-comedy, in a thoroughly entertaining and artistic manner, brings into focus the moral and ethical degeneration of our society, in which, paradoxically, it is a thief who ends up being more honest than those who supposed to be the custodians of our morality.
Charandas Chor remains Habib Tanvir’s best-known play, and
performed literally hundreds of times by his world-renowned Naya
The signatories to the statement are the theatre group Act One, M K Raina, Arvind Gaur, Moloyashree Hashmi, Asmita Theatre Group N K Sharma, Bahroop Art Group, SAHMAT, Brijesh, Shahid Anwar, Govind Deshpande, Sudhanva Deshpande, Jana Natya Manch, Vivan Sundaram, Jan Sanskriti, Wamiq Abbasi, Janvadi Lekhak Sangh, Javed Malick and Madangopal Singh, among others.