Interview | SUNIL SHANBAG Kochi

‘Most powerful art is created in moments of crisis’

Theatre director says artistes need to continue presenting alternative to what is said to be truth by those ruling the nation

Renowned theatre director Sunil Shanbag has always been critical of the growing politics of intolerance in the country. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, screenwriter and producer, he says artistes need to continue presenting an alternative to what is being said to be the truth by those ruling the nation.

Excerpts from a chat with The Hindu on the sidelines of the Natak State meet organised by the Network of Artistic Theatre Activists Kerala at Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam, on Friday:

On the fallout of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act

I think we are in a deep crisis right now. It’s very difficult to say how people in art should respond to it. I think right now even as an individual how does one respond to something like this is a very big question before most of us. The problem started right with the abrogation of Article 370. That has given us a little bit time to think about it. Various artistes have responded differently to it. We have contributed whatever we could towards understanding the situation. Being artistes, our entry was through literature and (to) look at the idea of Kashmir, the idea of nationhood, the idea of identity, etc. In this particular time, nobody is willing to listen, nobody is willing to speak. It’s a very difficult time.

Sometimes it’s good to step back and see what has been written about the same things in the past. Some brilliant minds have thought about it. This is not like something that had suddenly come up on us. We have to continue presenting people with different points of views. We have to present an alternative to what is being said to be the truth.

On BJP’s alleged efforts to valorise Savarkar’s two-nation theory

I think its quite apparent to anyone. I think it’s being done very very openly. There is no subterfuge about it. It’s interesting that they are still talking legal language. They are still trying to use the institutions to further this. It’s a stated objective and they are acting upon it. It’s very clear.

Are you hopeful about the future of the nation?

I am always an optimist. There is hope. It all depends on how we respond to the situation. I think there is slowly building up in the country a sense of an understanding among people that this is something we all have to resist. We have to continue working.

Role of artistes

I believe that this is the time when actually artistes have to work harder. Most powerful art is always being created in moments of crisis. I think that we should let that happen.

It is inevitable that it is going to happen. We are going to see some powerful expressions of art that actually question what is happening. We can just hope. And I am hopeful.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 3:41:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/most-powerful-art-is-created-in-moments-of-crisis/article30324473.ece

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