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Silenced Minds – AAINA’s Take On Censorship

Fear cuts deeper than swords. The idea that self-expression on issues can lead to thrashings and public beatings by vigilante mobs has brutalised everyone to the core. AAINA, through their master street play ‘Azaad Hu Azaad Hi Rahunga’, challenged the idea of freedom – the one our leaders entrusted us with.

The ground outside Syndicate Jubilee Hall seemed topped off as the actors started their play. With eye-appealing gestures and roaring voices, they expressed the false notion of freedom we’re living under. The play spoke to us about the evils lurking around disguised as censorship, curbing freedom of speech and expression. 

The scenario of people speaking against certain norms and blind rituals was brought upon quite strongly. The idea that people aren’t given a platform to express their opinions but are forced to follow the crowd no matter how bizarre the rituals or beliefs was accentuated with subtle hints of Baba Ram Rahim and Gauri Lankesh. It was evident that the themes struck a chord with the audience from their reactions to every act of the play.

The street-play also attracted a huge crowd when performed in front of the MIT Food Court

The paramount focus of the play hovered around ‘Safdar Hashmi’, a communist playwright and director who was an important voice in Indian political theatre. His last moments were during a street play where he voiced his opinions to bring about a change and open the chest of freedom that had been closed since time immemorial. His public lynching was a testament to the fact that India still had milestones to reach before grasping true freedom.

For people who believe that the milestone has been reached in modern times, AAINA focussed on recent examples like the online trolling of Priyanka Chopra for the way she dressed while meeting our Prime Minister. Tanmay Bhatt’s controversial tweet on Lata Mangeshkar and Sachin Tendulkar also proved that harmless laughter is not always the best medicine in our country.

Is freedom of expression indelible in India? Can we achieve independence at a higher level in the near future? These were some of the questions residing in people’s minds after another spectacular and boisterous performance by AAINA.