Over the years, Habib Tanvir’s plays have brought togethera robust rural voice and a modern worldview. It is often that we have the gift of an artist who selects the best of our traditional heritage and puts it to use to take on our modern cultural needs, problems, and questions. And Habib Tanvir has arrived at this point through  years of learning and honing his craft. From the early Agra Bazar to the renownedMitti Ki Gaddi, the plays by Habib Tanvir and his Naya Theatre have celebrated the language, humour, songs and stories of the Chattisgarhi peasants and tribals. To the resulting vitality, has been added a unique modern Indian perspective. This means Tanvir’s India is not romanticised, or parochial, or bigoted, or complacent, or satisfied with easy answers and labels.

It seems only a natural and logical response to admire and learn from such an artist. Indeed, this has been the response to the Naya Theatre plays, not just in cities in India and elsewhere, but in the rural India they draw their inspiration and energy from. But as if to illustrate that the bigotry the plays meet head-on is only too real, Habib Tanvir and his actors are now under attack. In the last few months, the cultural goons of the RSS-VHP-Bajrang Dal-BJP ilk have displayed their love for living Indian culture by throwing rotten eggs and chairs on the stage; by slogan-shouting during performances; by cutting power supply to the auditorium; by forcing audiences into leaving or performances into being cancelled. Given their


passionate interest in culture, the attackers have not even seen the plays they are attacking. Even worse is the implication that “ Muslim artists” should only portray and criticise the “ Muslim” thread of our complex social fabric.

We, as artists, writers and fellow-citizens, must take on Habib Tanvir’s attackers in our work, on the stage, in the media, and on the streets. And we must do this in a voice as bold and powerful as that of Habib Tanvir’s plays.

Vijay Tendulkar, Ramchandra Guha, Sanjana Kapur,S. Raghunandan, Githa Hariharan, Khushwant Singh, Krishna Sobti, Amitav Ghosh, Amit Chaudhri, Paul Zacharia, Mahesh Dattani, Mahesh Elkunchwar, Alok Rai, Shashi Despande, Nandita Das, Meenakshi Mukherjee, Urvashi Butalia, Arun Khopkar, Shanta Gokhale, Anita Badami, Esther David, Satish Alekar, Vilas Khopkar, Sohail Hashmi, Rajen Prasad, Vivan Sundaram, Madan Gopal Singh, M.K.Raina, Shamshad Husain, Indu Chandrasekhar, Parthiv Shah, Anil Chandra, Ramu Ramanathan, Ram Rahman, Rajinder Arora, Rahul Verma, Sashi Kumar, Rukmani Bhayya Nair, Chettan Dattar, Satish Alekar, Suman Mukhopadhyaya, G.P. Deshpande, N.S.Yamuna, Gemini Pathak, Siriyavan Anand, Probir Purkayastha, Brijesh Mohan, Moloyshree Hashmi, Sudhanwa Deshpande, Amit Sen Gupta, Ashish Ghosh, Rajinder Nath, Anuradha Kapur, Bapi Bose, Anamika Haksar, VK Arvind Gaur, Mushtaq Kak, Maya Rao, Robin Das