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Updated: November 28, 2011 02:55 IST

Screening of film on Husain postponed after threats from right-wing groups

Prakash Kamat
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M.F. Husain
M.F. Husain

Actors, writers stage dharna against the decision

The proposed screening of a film on painter M.F. Husain was postponed indefinitely by the organisers of the 42nd International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa 2011 on Sunday after right-wing groups like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) threatened an agitation.

Outraged by the decision, writers, film actors like Sridhar Kamat and Prashant Talpankar, and others held a dharna at the venue of the Open Forum of the IFFI. Actor Vikram Gokhale expressed his support to the protesters.

After meeting IFFI Director Shankar Mohan, Mr. Kamat told reporters that Mr. Mohan told them that as the HJS memorandum spoke about court cases against Husain, they were looking into the technicalities and if everything was fine, the film would be screened.

The IFFI had scheduled to screen on Sunday a documentary —Through The Eyes of the Painter— directed by Husain himself on his journey through Rajasthan, as a homage to the painter who died recently.

This is the second time that the IFFI organisers in Goa have succumbed to the pressure by the Hindu right-wing groups not to screen the documentary on Husain.

In IFFI 2009, the film scheduled for screening by National Films Division Corporation had been withdrawn at the last minute following HJS threats to disrupt the screening.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat had then indicated that they had decided to avoid any untoward situation in the larger interest of the security of the filmmakers and delegates.

‘Cultural policing'

The right-wing Hindu groups have been aggressive and loud in their protests in recent times harping on “hurt to Hindu sentiments.” “Cultural policing” by such groups has been on rise in the State in recent times, creative people here point out.

On several occasions, exhibitions have been cancelled or controversial pictures withdrawn by organisers. The creative people blame the soft-pedalling of such cases by the government as the main cause for rising intolerance against “freedom of expression” by groups whose common refrain was “sentiments of a community being hurt.”

When the IFFI began last week, the Goa wing of the HJS had written to the IFFI organisers objecting to a film section meant to pay homage to Husain and warned of protests.

The same organisation had started a sustained campaign against him for being “anti-Hindu” and sued the painter for some of his paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses. In its letter, the HJS urged the organisers not to pay tributes to the painter.

A HJS delegation, led by women's wing chief Rajashree Gadekar, last week met Manoj Srivastava, Chief Executive Officer of the Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) asking him to drop the tributes section.

However, the ESG, which is a Goa government's nodal agency for the IFFI, told the delegation that the section was curated by the IFFI Directorate. The delegation then handed over a memorandum to the Directorate.

i want to think, if i am allowed to (as i am supposed to be secular/tolerant by duty,religion,Indian culture and heightened enlightenment ) why did Mr Hussain singled out only Indian gods and forgot Islamic /other gods to vent out his artistic outbursts .....some thing biased... mind you i my self do not like Indian gods and other gods as well......i don't know what will happen to me if i just draw a cartoon of Muhammad ( i will be attacked even after my death).......for my artistic pursuits ...and as per Islamic law stone for a stone so.....he deserves it by Islamic standards.... but as per per Indian intellectualism it is non secular even to point out his rather deliberate act of avoidable contempt feel it right wing/left wing or is it RSSism or BJPism .....

from:  rajeev
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 23:45 IST

These self-styled cultural-cum-social (and I doubt they appreciate the
meaning of either) custodian groups are no better than the Taliban. The
only difference is that they wear different clothes, speak a different
language and follow different hate guidelines.
I'm sure by now everyone realizes that they are the same.

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 20:38 IST

I believe in freedom of expression for all. People have a right to hold an exhibition, also their there exists a right to a peaceful protest. The problem is that Hindu-bashers are favored upon unfairly.Did MF Hussain paint Jesus/mary/allah in nude? No! That misfortune was reserved for Hindu deities only.
Any protests about banning Satanic verses or Davinci code? None!

from:  maine
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 20:22 IST

On what basis, do we still call ourselves a democracy?
Where does the boundaries of Hindu culture start and end?
Who decided how the Hindu Gods and Goddesses be depicted?
Why don't they protest against Khajuraho and break it down too!

from:  Gunjan Singh
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 16:41 IST

I wonder why the fact that there are so many Hindus at the verge of
death from extreme poverty does not hurt the so called 'religious
sentiments' of these right wing groups

from:  nikhil jayakrishnan
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 14:23 IST

The fact that right-wing fanatics have not only become vocal but are also off and on able to impose their agenda on decision-makers is seriously disturbing trend for this country that boasts of democracy and secularism. At another level that such threats actually work shows failure on part of the government in containing such elements. In fact the way the government caves in show a sort of soft-peddling indicating some ideological confluence with their agenda and politics of intlerance.
This trend towards talibanisation of society and politics if left unchecked without a serios and all out ideological, political and administrative challenge has all the makings of plunging this country into a vicious vortex of fascism.

from:  Lokesh Malti Prakash
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 13:42 IST

HJS has the right to peaceful protest and secularism doen't mean to take the majority people for granted in the shadow of freedom of expression. comments from Dr.Shanthu is disgraceful and he is eating his own words.

from:  Ratnakar
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 13:10 IST

The article by Praksh Kamat and comments by Dr Shantanu SDhantaram and Harish Singh represent the typical mindset and viewpoint of the "Liberal - Secular" Fundamentalists. These people are also depicting the same extremist and fundamental mindset that they are accusing others of. Like everybody has a right to express their dissent and protest, the Hindu's also have that right. Or is it the contention of the LIBERAL-SECULARS that only they have the right and others do not.
Where is the proof that these organizations have taken law into their hands. This is the typical accusations made by the secular-left-neoliberal outfits.

from:  N S Parameswaran
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 12:22 IST

Secularism, tolerance, etc are all raised only when Hinduism is attacked. If Islam is attacked will they say so? If Sikhism is attacked will any Singh keep quiet? Talk is easy.

from:  Mukund
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 12:03 IST

I believe that MF Hussain had deliberately hurt the feelings of Hindus in the name of art.He could have painted Hindu God and Goddess in a respectful manner,Hindus would have no problem with that.
Why did MF Hussain never painted a picture of Allah or Prop. Muhammad.
Secularism doesnot mean to hurt the majorities and pamper the minorities.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 11:58 IST

are we still independent???? Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS)???? which group is that???? what are they doing so spcial for Hindu people and Hinduism??? who gives such groups a status???? Govt of this country has to take a decision.... i do not understand when they say' hurting their sentiments'. Theses are idiots. Govt should order them not to do all such things or they will be killed. But i know govt is not going to do anything. some 1000 Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) members can scare the entire nation. Such a great thing. really something to be proud of.

from:  Dipankar Das
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:51 IST

Well justified. If this wretched SOB, who had the gall to paint Goddess Saraswathi in the imaginary nude, had also painted Mohammad in the nude, then I'd have saluted his bravery and his sense of equality. Why then is this SOB worshiped in India? I guess only in India, nowehere else. It's amazing that Indians in India seem to have reconciled to such 'artistic' excursions while Indians outside of India protest and cause to reverse even non-mischievous portrayals of Indian gods and godly figures (such as Gandhi) and every single time, the merchant company that depicted and Indian God/figure retracts and apologizes. Shame!

from:  Observer in California
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 10:48 IST

Whole article is written in such a biased way - makes one wonder whether the writer knows any basics of the problem of denigration & the artistic freedom. When the films or books like "Passion of Christ" 'Satanic verses' are banned by the govts. at the slightest protest from Muslims n Christians not a single writer n artist protest against it.
But when the Hindus genuinely outraged by the treatment meted out to their Gods or Holy Scripts in the name of artistic freedom - govt looks the other way and doesnt use the same laws that it uses for "Christ" or "Verses". Its in fact such shame that the majority of Hindus nowadays, dont know - what is the denigration of their Gods & scriptures & how it affects the Hindu Dharma in the long run & why the artists/writers from other religions or so called atheists from hindus come forward to denigrate some more or support such denigration. It has become a fashion to crow about hinuds fighting for their same rights given by constitution to one n all

from:  Sudharak
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 08:09 IST

These organisations can't claim to represent wide hindu sentiments and have no right to threaten government machinary in discharging its lawful obligations. By taking any such step they are actually tarnishing image of Nation. Secular struture of nation can't be jeopardised because of petty interests.

from:  Harish Singh
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 08:04 IST

Anybody or group that takes law into their hands and threaten public peace must be dealt with the heavy hand of the law. The protest against screening of MF Hussain's film by right wing religious extremists must be put down mercilessly. Succumbing to their demands will only make them to place more and more undemocratic and unreasonable demands in future. There is no point in trying to reason with such groups. They must be put behind bars for violating people's democratic rights.

from:  Dr. Shanthu Shantharam
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 06:19 IST

For all the posturing by the HJS about the inherent strength of Hindu culture and the need to protect the Hindu religion, they almost always come across as culturally deficient and theologically void.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Nov 28, 2011 at 04:43 IST
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