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Evam’s Ali J was born out of a desire to create a play that is positive, impactful and relevant. Performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, Ali J is a powerful story about the search for identity, the need for belonging and the uneasy position at the wrong end of inclusivity, and about being Muslim in today’s India.

“I’m always intrigued by the forces that shape our destiny—that births either Jekyll or Hyde—we seem to be the products of our past, forged on the anvil of our present and driven to action by what we perceive as the future. Ali J is Everyman, yet he might be speaking for a nation; I placed him at the convergence of all his stories so that we could hold our breath while he decides," says playwright Shekinah Jacob.

Ali J, which is going to be staged in Chennai and Bangalore, has seen stern opposition from Hindu fundamentalist groups—it was banned in Mumbai last month and there were vehement protests in Bangalore after the group’s 1 February performance. Director and performer Karthik Kumar says: “There was a whole list of points sent to us by the Hindu groups, but nothing in the play is hateful or insulting to any community or ideology. This is why we are allowed to perform in Bangalore now. In Mumbai, it was more a case of the police being unable to guarantee protection, and not because they had an objection to the content, that we weren’t allowed to perform."

The story isn’t just about being Muslim in India, it is equally relevant to all minorities who feel a sense of suppression, identity crisis and even confusion about their place in society. With an original background score and minimalist lighting
design, this one-man play promises to be both impactful and thought-provoking.

Evam, a performing arts organization founded in 2003 by Sunil Vishnu K. and Karthik Kumar, has been leading the way in using theatre as a medium for entertainment, corporate training, and making a positive impact on people’s minds. With Ali J, Evam has now moved from just entertainment to producing issue-based plays. Kumar says that while entertainment-based themes bring in the audience, at Evam they felt it was time to offer more. In 2015, the play will tour the UK and US.

Ali J will be staged at 3.30pm/8pm on 9 March, at Alliance Française of Madras, Nungambakkam, Chennai (28279803); and 8pm on 12-13 March, at Jagriti Theatre,Whitefield, Bangalore (28475373). Tickets, 400 in Chennai and 250 in Bangalore, available on in.bookmyshow.com.

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Updated: 06 Mar 2014, 08:40 PM IST
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