‘We must learn to live with multiple identities,’ says Huma Safdar

  • Harjeet Inder Singh Sahi, Hindustan Times, SAS Nagar
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2015 10:58 IST
Lahore Grammar School teacher, painter and theatre director Huma Safdar speaks on nationalism and the arts. (Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo)

Readily stepping over one another to inculcate cosmopolitanism in their children, not many try to delve deep into the wealth of literature and experience available in regional writing. Huma Safdar has not merely explored the increasingly drifting Punjabi literature but has directed several plays based on classical love legends, while adding contemporary elements to them.

Huma’s troupe of 30 schoolchildren is on a theatrical and tourist trip of Punjab and Chandigarh on the invitation of the Society for Promotion of Peace. The students staged the play ‘Birha Tun Sultan’, based on the kalam and life of Baba Farid, at Shivalik Public School at SAS Nagar on Thursday.

During the 1980s, the tyrannical regime of former Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq shaped Huma’s thoughts and future endeavours of utilising theatre as a tool of indirect political criticism.

“I was too shy to do theatre; it was necessary social activism which pulled me towards it. In Pakistan, theatre and women’s movement joined hands as men were severely repressed,” says Huma. ‘Heer Damodar’, ‘Heer Waris Shah’, ‘Sassi Punnu’ and ‘Ik Raat Ravi Di’ are some of Huma’s plays based on classical love legends. “Every society has codes and classifications and the importance of these legendary lovers was that they relinquished their given social status and embraced a higher sphere of self-effacing identity and this is what protest in society is all about,” says Huma.

“We are led into traps by rigid ideologies and political positions. Nationalism is homogeneous in its tight embrace and much is lost in the process. We must learn to live with multiple identities,” she further adds.

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