Silent majority speaking up: Dibakar Banerjee

Published - November 01, 2015 12:38 am IST

03dfr Dibakar Banerjee1

03dfr Dibakar Banerjee1

Of the film-makers who returned the national award early this week,Dibakar Banerjeeis the closest to mainstream cinema. He is also one of those who do not wear an activist cap under the director’s hat. In fact, it is hard to trace him between films. So when he took the extreme move of returning the award that he got for his first film, Khosla Ka Ghosla , in support of protesting FTII students, it came as a surprise. Edited excerpts from an interview he gave toAnuj Kumar:

What compelled you to return your first national award?

What compelled me was the 140-day deadlock between the Ministry and the students over the issue of transparency in the selection process of the governing body of FTII. And the fact that an issue of pure merit and professionalism has been converted to that of right, left and other high decibel rubbish.

It is a case of nepotism that could happen in any government in India. To select qualified, respected and professionally competent members to a body that will guide the premiere film school in the country should not be rocket science! And the students demand for a transparent, corruption-free process cannot be subverted and branded as leftist or anti this or that. That is defensive sulkiness of a very high order.

The letter (addressed to the President and Prime Minister) suggests that it is not just about the FTII and is about the growing atmosphere of intolerance? What are you going through as a creative soul?

Yes, there is a dangerous clamour in the air. The spate of murders of educationists, rationalists and the inaction of the Union and the State governments is alarming. I feel as if I am part of a growing, silent, powerless majority who are afraid to speak out, to think, to express, to live in India.

Are you feeling lonely ... What is the mood in the industry?

I was with 12 other film-makers when returning the awards! How can I feel lonely! And the wave of mails and texts in support of what we are doing are pouring in! The silent majority has started speaking out.

Some people, including Anupam Kher, have questioned the timing...

It’s natural. But the press conference to return our awards came about when we learned that the students were holding a press conference in Pune to announce that they were going back to classes but were continuing the protest. That was all the reason there was for the timing.

Anand Patwardhan has described the move political. Is it the same with you or does it depend on how we look at the word political?

Absolutely. My personal reason to return the award is to draw the attention of the average Indian citizen to the importance of saving our premier professional educational institutes.

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