Mumbai, April 26 (TNS): While it was theatre that brought together veteran theatre personalities Neelam Mansingh Chaudhary and Pakistan’s peace activist and founder of the leading theatre company Ajoka Madeeha Gauhar, what made them last was their camaraderie developed over the years, transcending the bitter cross-border rivalry between the two nations.
On Wednesday morning, Madeeha passed away in Pakistan, ending her long standing battle with cancer. Though Madeeha’s last performance in Delhi as part of an NSD festival, was roiled in controversy and became collateral damage to the political debacle, and was thus cancelled, she continued fostering her relationships with Indian theatre people, like Neelam among others.
“I first did a workshop with Madeeha when she came to Chandigarh some years ago,” says Neelam, remembering her Gauhar, “It was a collaborative workshop between my theatre company and hers. She was our only link with Pakistan.”
Neelam, who spoke to Gauhar’s husband on Wednesday, says he seemed at peace knowing his wife had a life well lived. “He said that she did all that she wanted to. And that she went quite fulfilled, which is reassuring.”
Though Gauhar wasn’t seen championing the Indo-Pak peace initiatives at the border ventures, she had her own ways. “Madeeha was crusading for this crossing over- culture, creating bridges, by doing collaborative productions. Though her last play at NSD, Delhi was refused owing to the political stand-off, she was staging plays in Amritsar, Kolkata etc.”
Neelam, who was supposed to take her play to Pakistan theatre festival two years ago, was also stalled in the efforts due to the stand-off. “But I met Madeeha six months ago when she came to Chandigarh for a day and spent it with me. She seemed to have lost a lot of weight, but her spirit seemed intact.” Neelam adds, “With her passing, our link with Lahore has been severed.”
Courtesy: Times of India