Freedom Jatha

In the first ever India-Palestine theatre collaboration, The Freedom Theatre (TFT) from Jenin is collaborating with the Indian theatre group, Jana Natya Manch (Janam) this coming winter. Studio Safdar Trust is a partner of this programme and Studio Safdar will be hosting all the workshops and the play-making sessions for the collaboration.

The Freedom Theatre is one of the leading Palestinian theatres. Just as Safdar Hashmi was killed during a performance in 1989, the founder of TFT Juliano Mer Khamis, was shot dead outside the theatre.

In November 2015, eight artistes from TFT will arrive in India for three months. They will take part in intensive workshops with Indian theatre experts. Along with actors from Janam, they will prepare a joint production, which will travel to 10 Indian cities in December-January 2015-16.

In March-April 2015, Sudhanva Deshpande spent two weeks in Palestine, as Jana Natya Manch’s representative to The Freedom Theatre. He was writing (almost) every day, and what he saw and experienced has been compiled as a diary.

TFT-DiaryHe has not tried to rework or edit it, barring the odd correction of grammar or spelling here and there. Thus, the text here is a simple record, unembellished by addition of subsequent knowledge or insight. He was also taking pictures on his phone, some of which are included here. Except at one place, the photos have no captions, mainly because they are self-explanatory, and to be read in juxtaposition to the text that abuts them.

We do hope you will enjoy reading these entries. In case you have a comment to make or a response, please feel free to write to Sudhanva at

You can download the diary A Fortnight in West Bank.


Freedom Jatha is not sponsored or supported by any institution. Individuals who believe in this collaboration have been contributing generously to this project and helping us make Freedom Jatha possible. Support us. Spread the word.

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“It will be a great experience for the young artistes from Palestine to share their ideas of freedom and liberation with Indian audiences,” said Faisal Abu Alhayjaa, artistic leader of the project from TFT. “Indian culture, cinema and theatre have been great inspirations for us, and we hope that this will lead to many more such cultural exchanges between our two countries.”

“Over twenty different cultural organizations are partnering with Janam to make this incredible tour happen,” said Sudhanva Deshpande the artistic leader of the project from the Indian side. “A number of artistes are keen to associate with the production and the tour in a variety of ways.”

Many leading Indian artistes and intellectuals have welcomed the tour. The famous actor Sharmila Tagore says, “I think it is very important for artists of different countries and cultures to connect with each other. That this artistic collaboration is taking place without the mediation of any funding agency or international organization makes it more exciting still — this is a direct dialogue between artistes of the two kindred civilizations.”

Sanjna Kapoor, co-director, Junoon, who are one of the partners in this project, says, “This is a really important journey, where people from two lands get to meet each other, through performance. Palestine will meet India in this totally unique and wonderful way.”

“The Palestine Solidarity Committee welcomes this upcoming artistic collaboration,” said Prabir Purkayastha on behalf of the Palestine Solidarity Committee. “We pledge this initiative all support.” The committee consists of leading public figures including filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Saeed Mirza, writers Githa Hariharan and Nayantara Sahgal, and artist Vivan Sundaram.

The famous Indian artist Orijit Sen has designed the visual identity of the tour, as well as four other unique artworks for the tour.

The Tour is supported through various local city organizers, Junoon in Mumbai, Samudaya in Bengaluru,

Tour Schedule

The Freedom Jatha Tour Schedule is given below. Several organisations in these cities are coming together to make the tour happen. The exact details of venues, times, etc., will get confirmed by mid-November.

December 2015

Fri 18: Lucknow | Sat 19: Lucknow | Sun 20: Bhopal | Mon 21: Bhopal

January 2016

Fri 1: Delhi (Dr. Ambedkar Park, Jhandapur village, Site IV Industrial Area, Sahibabad; the site of Safdar Hashmi’s martyrdom)

Mon 4: Mumbai

Tue 5: Mumbai

Wed 6: Mumbai

Thu 7: Mumbai (Sitara Studio; entry by invitation only)

Sat 9: Thalassery, Kerala

Sun 10: Kozhikode

Mon 11: Mallapuram

Tue 12: Kozhikode

Wed 13: Bangalore

Thu 14: Bangalore

Fri 15: Bangalore

Sat 16: Bangalore

Sun 17: Hyderabad

Mon 18: Hyderabad

Tue 19: Hyderabad

Thu 21: Kolkata

Fri 22: Kolkata

Sat 23: Kolkata

Sun 24: Patna

Mon 25: Patna

Wed 27: Delhi (Ambedkar University)


Moloyashree Hashmi, President, Jana Natya Manch

Sudhanva Deshpande, Director and Actor, Jana Natya Manch


To arrange interviews

Swar Thounaojam  –

Joyoti Roy –

Komita Dhanda –