Jana Natya Manch
Life and Works

Safdar Archives


Safdar, a founder member of Janam, was a brilliant theoretician and practitioner of political theatre, especially street theatre. A versatile personality, he was a playwright, a lyricist’ a theatre director, a designer and an organizer He also wrote for children.

His film scripts were much acclaimed. He wrote on various aspects of culture and related issues in journals and newspapers. Safdar was a member of the C.P.I. (M). His creativity and ideology were inseparable. In recognition of his contribution to the street theatre movement and to the growth of a democratic culture, the Calcutta University in 1989 conferred on Safdar the degree of D.Litt. posthumously.

On January 2, 1989, the convenor of Janam, Safdar Hashmi, died in a New Delhi hospital following a murderous attack on Janam activists the previous day by anti-social elements patronized by the ruling vested interests. Janam was performing Halla Bol in Jhandapur, Sahibabad, in support of the workers’ demands led by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU). People from all walks of life – workers, political activists, artists and intellectuals – came together spontaneously in a massive, unprecedented protest against this brutal murder. Today, Safdar’s name has become synonymous with street theatre and the progressive cultural movement in India.

Film on Safdar

Directed by Shashi Kumar,1989, 38 mins, Hindi

"The film moves back and forth through time, space and people, offering priceless vignettes into the character and persona of the late Safdar, through archival footage where he belts out a line of song, joking about his actor's total lack of voice, tune or rhythm. Molosyahree, his widow, opens out her album of black-and-white photographs, and in so doing, essays her evolving relationship with Safdar that physically may have ended with his violent death in 1989 but has reached far beyond questions of mortality through the sustenance and growth of Janam. . . . But the film is not about Hashmi. It is about the movement he triggered during his lifetime; a movement he died for; a movement that lives on much after his death."

A copy of the Film can be bought from the Jana Natya Manch Office at 2254/2A, Shadikhampur, New Ranjit Nagar, Shadipur, New Delhi-110008.