Venue: Bikaner House
Date: 20th Aug
Many of us in India have grown up listening to partition stories from our elders. Many of our friends and their families actually belong to some village in Pakistan and we have noticed chocked throats and wet eyes at the mention of these places in front of our parents and grand parents. India’s partition has left wounds and unpleasant memories that people from that generation are still carrying and would prefer to forget. “Partition – Stories of Separation” was a musical programme organised at Bikaner Bhawan to remember India’s Partition – the world’s biggest displacement of people from one country to another.
Bikaner House has been a venue of some awe inspiring and noticeable art events of late. We remember visiting Serendipity Arts Festival last year and look forward to attending more programmes here. “Partition – Stories of Separation” was part of their event “Shared Legacies” that included curated art, fashion, exhibitions, music, dialogues and seminars. Noted sufi singer and theatre artist Sonam Kalra along with actor and voice talent Salima Raza performed around 6 songs inspired by the songwriters, musicians and saints from both sides of the border. The compositions were inspired by the works of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Amrita Pritam, Amir Khusrau etc.
The show was an experiential musical performance using songs, poetry, graphics and the spoken word. Sitting on two opposite sides of the stage, Sonam sang some soulful numbers and Raza narrated some painful stories of the partition. Between them on a huge screen were disturbing visuals from the partition, interviews from people who actually faced the trauma and animations and CG done by Gopika Chowfla. They were accompanied by a talented set of musicians who ably supported Kalra’s singing. Songs were mostly in Punjabi mixed with some Urdu shayri and Hindi lyrics.
In words of Sonam Kalra – “Through music we are able to empathise, ponder and realise the way forward. Hopefully a way of peace and co existence based on a shared grief, a shared loss, a shared history and a shared love.”
The event was not all about crying over the past but also looked at what lies ahead. Amidst all the pain and suffering of the past “Partition – Stories of Separation” looked at the possibility of friendship among citizens of both the countries. We say amen to that.