New play pays tribute to Pathankot terror attack martyrs
Catch a play that is a homage to the seven soldiers martyred in 2016's Pathankot terror attack and their families
On January 2, 2016, when the euphoria of a new beginning was still fresh, and when most were still sending out New Year wishes, it all came to a shocking halt in a flash. At least six heavily armed terrorists dressed in Indian Army uniforms, who had infiltrated the high-security perimeter a day before, attacked the air base at Pathankot. It was one of the deadliest terror attacks that year and claimed the lives of seven security personnel. It shook the country and then we shook it off, laughing at memes or wrapping our heads around an unrecognisably gracious Donald Trump at his inaugural presidential speech in the US.
We knew, for example, that Garud Commando Gursewak Singh was martyred but not that he had got married just 45 days before the attack. Or that, eight months later, his wife had a child. These are the stories that Jitendra Singh and his theatre group Kahaani Production want to tell, through their upcoming play, Marching Dead.
Started by Singh, 24, Debabrat Samal, 30, and Mudassir Ali, 26, Kahaani Production tries to centre their plays around current political narratives. All three act, write and direct, juggling the roles. They first came to notice after they performed their play, Downtown Kashmir, at the Thespo Art Festival in 2015. "We rehearsed for Downtown Kashmir on Juhu beach; now we rehearse in my flat," says Singh, speaking of the difficulties the group faces.
"We talk about issues that bother people but somehow have got normalised under the shroud of 'Yeh toh hote rehta hai' (Things like this keep happening), because of how often they happen," he adds.
"I was visiting a friend in Pathankot soon after the attack. When we went there, we saw that though the rest of the country had moved on, Pathankot's wounds were still fresh. We sourced some more information since our friend's father was a cop and we were keen to write a play. That's how the idea was conceived. Then, we got in touch with some of the families; unfortunately, I cannot name them, but it was for research. We incorporated those bits and the play took shape," Singh explains.
Talking about the execution, he says, "We chose to not show the attack because everyone already knows about it. We wanted people to know about the ordeal the families of the martyred went through. Or, about the havildars who were killed. Lt Colonel Niranjan Kumar's death was well reported, but there was almost nothing about the martyred havildars. We could not even trace one havildar's family. This saddened us. I visited Pathankot again. Two years later, this continues to be a sensitive issue. People in metro cities, who have busy lives, might have forgotten the attack but those living in Pathankot have not."
On May 3, 9 pm onwards
At Overact, The Alternative Theatre Space, Aram Nagar Part II, Versova, Andheri West.
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