These poignant ‘last words’ from UoH scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide note, when read out aloud in a quiet apartment in BHEL, has quite a chilling effect. Giving voice to Rohith’s letter that rocked the world of India’s university politics in January, is the play The Last Letter, that aims to dramatise the events that lead up to Rohith’s death.
Even as they take a break from the rehearsal to speak to Hyderabad Times, Riyaz Usman and his crew look quite nervous. “Many might think the play is another protest, but we have no such intention. We are just making a statement,” says Riyaz, director of the play. “It definitely has political elements because of the inclusion of official letters, but we are only reading out facts. We all have different perspectives regarding the issue. We have contrasting ideologies and opinions, and I think that’s what makes us put forth a neutral point,” he adds.
The Last Letter will be a rendition of Rohith’s suicide note. “Rohith’s letter will be interspersed with the political and bureaucratic interactions, poetry about the incident, and even the letter that Carl Sagan’s wife, Ann Druyan wrote, reacting to Rohith’s mention of her husband in his last letter,” explains Riyaz, who knows some of Rohith’s friends personally. The crew, also comprising Utkarsh Dixit, Syed Shah Nawaz Ali and Vishal Mitra, have one wish though — to stage the play in University of Hyderabad. “We are aware that any cultural activity that is associated with this issue hasn’t been allowed in the University. We also know that it won’t be easy to get permission to stage it at UoH. But we are definitely trying. We are also in talks with some of the students about the possibility,” says Riyaz...
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