By Joydeep Hazarika
Published April 18, 2009
On the evening of 15th April, in Delhi, the Friends group of Jamia Millia Islamia university performed a street play at the Delhi Haat. The play titled “Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya?” (What is to fear when your are in love?) was based on the concept of homosexuality and gay rights. The group consisted of students of AJK Mass Communication Research Centre of Jamia Millia Islamia.
Watching the play was a welcome experience as it touched on a topic which is talked about behind closed doors. Homosexuality, though coming to the focus of various talks, is still a subject of great hush-hush. In this season of elections and IPL, watching a play on a different topic was surely refreshing. And it is solely to those students' credit that a controversial topic like homosexuality was shown to a whole public.
The play was all about showing the angst and isolation that the people of the gay community face. The play was presented on different levels which showed ostracisation from family and society and how it drives the victims to be driven to the point of extreme acts. Also worth mentioning were some sequences in the play where some really serious aspects of gay discrimination were shown. Be it the plight of a gay AIDS patient or the harassment of gay couples by the police, the ridicule society gives out to homosexuals or suicides committed by such people; every aspect was shown in a stark reality. And each time a question was raised. Why do they have to face this?
Afroz Alam Sahil, who was a part of the play, said that the message of the play is to make the voices of these people get heard. He further says that the play does not pass any judgement. It is more of a case study of actual incidents and shows the tribulations that the homosexuals have to undergo in our country.
At a time when gay pride parades are coming out and people are talking of scraping Article 377 which criminalises homosexuality in India, this play reminded us that there are issues which we simply cannot ignore. However gross people might find them, we have to sit back and notice them because they exist among us. And homosexuals are one such reality.
As far as reactions are concerned, the play did succeed in shocking the spectators with its bold theme. As the play progressed on, I could notice that people had shocked expressions on their faces. And there was pin drop silence throughout the play. But one thing was for sure. The play succeeded in conveying its message. And again talking of reactions, the play has evoked some reactions from the moral police as well. Activists of the Republican Party of India (RPI) staged a demonstration in front of AJK MCRC in Jamia on 16th April protesting against the staging of this play. This is just another instance when the so called moral police leaves no stone unturned in silencing those voices which raise such issues that are deemed unfit for a ‘sane’ society. On top of that, the Urdu daily, Humara Samaj, went on to publish an editorial condemning the staging of this play. They even criticised Jamia Millia Islamia for giving permission to go ahead with this play and also accused the university of damaging the image of the Islamic culture.
But the performers of the play are unfazed because they believe they have touched a legitimate topic. And it is this attitude that reminds us of the fact that democracy is all about expressing oneself inspite of all oppositions. Homosexuality is a tabooed topic in our country. And the staging of this play only signals that we are free to express ourselves in a democratic setup. And people will have to look up to such issues one day. Because it is a human issue after all.