Join us for a unique series of evening events commemorating “75 years” of Indian Independence and the creation of Pakistan. Taking place in Dishoom Manchester, Dishoom Birmingham and culminating in a twilight event outside Dishoom King’s Cross, these events will bring together intimate testimonies, specially composed musical performances and a plentiful Dishoom feast in a unique interpretation of Kavita Puri’s book Partition Voices: Untold British Stories.
Hear speakers share their stories, inside the café, to an intimate audience before questions are opened up to the floor. Followed by live performances by Soumik Datta and a carefully curated Dishoom menu.
The finale of “75 Years” will be a more informal and celebratory evening. Separate testimonies will be shared before a Q&A and live music by Soumik Datta. A communal feast of sumptuous Dishoom dishes will follow at long sharing tables as well as an extra musical performance, especially for this event.
In August 1947, after long years of bitter struggle, India and Pakistan finally won their freedom as new independent countries. New democracies were born, people found their voice and were finally able to determine their own destiny. This demands celebration, particularly in this year, a 75th anniversary.
However, at the same time, there is a bitter-sweet quality to the remembrance. In his speech of August 1947, Pandit Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister spoke of the ‘labour pains of the birth of freedom’. He was referring to the violent rupture of partition, the bloody fracture of the Indian subcontinent into two independent states: a Hindu-majority India and the Muslim-majority Pakistan. This sparked one of the largest migrations in human history. Millions of Muslims travelled to West and East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), whilst millions of Hindus and Sikhs moved in the opposite direction to what they thought was the safety of the religious majority. On the way, over a million people were killed, and countless others suffered injury, loss and humiliation.
Exactly 75 years on from the birth of India and Pakistan, together with Kavita we’ve invited survivors of partition, who made journeys in both directions, to share their stories inside Dishoom. Some of these individuals feature in Kavita’s book, and some are second or third-generation relatives, who explore the nuanced legacy of Partition for them. For many decades, this historical event has gone largely unspoken; the horrors that took place and the shame that followed rendered the events literally unspeakable. Overnight friends became enemies, terrible scenes of murder left countless dead and countless lives completely shattered. All suffered. Though amidst the horror, there were acts of kindness and humanity. These memories, both good and bad, must be passed down; almost all Partition survivors have already died, and now, more than ever, there is real urgency to listen and to honour these memories. By creating space for people to speak so that their stories will be told, their voices heard and their experiences understood, we can help ensure that one of the most momentous tumultuous events of the twentieth century is never forgotten.
Super-talented musician, composer and sarod player, Soumik Datta, has composed a brand-new musical score to accompany the series, encompassing influences from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. He’s an incredible talent, and will be performing live at the events, charming audiences with a beautiful musical backdrop.
Pictured: Soumik Datta
All will be followed by a plentiful Dishoom feast, specially curated by Chef Naved. Guests will be invited to break bread over a spread of café classics, as a sit down meal in Manchester and Birmingham or served buffet style in London, including: Pau Bhaji, Chicken Ruby, Jackfruit Biryani, House Black Daal, breads, salads and puddings.
- Binita Kane and her father, Bim – Binita is a full time respiratory consultant; co-founder of South Asian Heritage Month; and carer of her father, Bim. In 2017 Binita appeared on the TV documentary My Family, Partition and Me, and was the first member of her family to return to Bangladesh where her father was born and fled from.
- Sparsh Ahuja – documentary filmmaker and the founder of Project Dastaan. He currently works as the Partnerships Director at South Asian Heritage Month.
- Ali Arif (2nd generation British Pakistani) – founder of South Asian Book Club.
- Sarah Mohammed (speaking on behalf of her grandmother, Khurshid Sultana) – Khurshid was born in British India in 1932. After partition, she trained as a doctor in Karachi, Pakistan, before moving to Britain in 1961.
- Mohindra Dhall MBE – born in 1941 in Lyallpur, British India. He moved to Indian Punjab in September 1947, and then to Delhi. He now lives in Scotland, where he founded the Ethnic Enterprise Centre in 1992 and the Scottish Indian Arts Forum in 1994. Mohindra is the founder of Edinburgh Diwali, and was awarded an MBE for services to arts in Scotland in 2006.