Canvas of Art, Shades of Azadi

Art has poured its fervour into the struggle for independence and continues to shape the struggle for reclamation of Azadi in post-independent India in continuation with its tussle with censorship.

Throughout the years, the call for Revolution and Azadi has been infused with various art forms. Be it lines of poetry or the dead silence on the face of actors, art has always been the medium to convey the turmoil that boils within. Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and progressive writers adopted the bravado to speak for the unheard in times of the independence struggle. The power that these bare words encompass is beyond any hegemony, which is the reason why art is the first to be censored whenever any establishment fears downfall. Dinkar’s direct attack on the then Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru shocked the entire nation.

Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s act of reading those four lines in the Parliament to criticise Nehru
remains one of the most revolutionary acts. Safdar Hashmi’s murder, Sultan Majroohpuri’s arrest, defacement of paintings from CAA protests site and many such incidents tell the tale of how revolutionary art drives the course of change and thus, trembles the pillars of hegemony.
Saadat Hasan Manto was censored in his age of writing and what’s peculiar is that censorship in the 21st century isn’t leaving his side.

After the genocidal sloganeering on Sunday at Jantar Mantar, a post was doing rounds
on Instagram. The post had lines from the movie Manto (2018) where Saadat Hasan says, “He is Muslim enough to be killed”, depicting the Islamophobic scenario. Instagram found this to be against its community guidelines and removed this post uploaded by @con.scientizacao.

Meanwhile, the slogans asking for genocide remain on various pages.

“If you cannot bear these stories then the society is unbearable. Who am I to remove the clothes of this society, which itself is naked.”


These are not just bland phrases that promise good days ahead while hollowness shrieks from inside them. These are the cries of the turbulence stated barely, set in the beauty of expressions. The words of Pash, Faiz, Dushyant Kumar, Kaifi Saheb and many others still resonate with the masses. Is it because of the immortality of those words or our struggles have not really evolved?

“Meri Zubaan se nikali to sirf Nazm bani,
tumhare haath mei aai to ek mashaal

These words from Dushyant Kumar, truly depict the role of Art in organising, agitating and leading people towards the path of change and not merely giving up in the face of the oppressor. As words of Habib Jalib and Majrooh Sultanpuri continue to tell thousands of stories of their age encompassed in them, we can hope that ours too would live on to tell about the people who stood in the face of odds. People who questioned the essence of Azadi and rightfully demanded it. We hope the words and art of Amir Aziz, Satish Acharya, Varun Grover and various other artists keep speaking for the deliberately silenced.

Feature Image Credits:

Kashish Shivani
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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history.Freedom to Express.