Film-makers concerned over intolerance

Citing the Dadri lynching and the murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M.M. Kaburgi, a group of film-makers, led by Anand Patwardhan, have voiced concern over the rising intolerance in the country.

“People are being murdered for their beliefs and opinions. There has been no official condemnation of these groups [by the government] and we question this silence,” they said in a joint statement here on Wednesday.

“We stand firmly with the students of FTII [Film and Television Institute of India] and are determined not to let them shoulder the entire burden of their protests. They have mounted a historic struggle and we urge others within our fraternity to come forward,” the statement said on the day the students decided to continue their protest after calling off their strike.

At a press conference, Nishtha Jain, whose Gulabi Gang was judged the best film on social issues at the 61st National Awards in 2014, said, “With much sadness I give up my only national award. It has meant a lot to me as it helped to gain recognition for my film Gulabi Gang and the issues it raised about gender discrimination in our country. But today, this award has become a daily reminder of the gap between the way the state looks at us as film-makers and how they treat us as citizens who dare to dissent.”

Dibakar Banerjee said, “This is not politically motivated. It is motivated by my conscience. I am not here out of anger or outrage. Those emotions have been exhausted. I am here to draw attention. Returning my national award for Khosla Ka Ghosla is not easy. It was my first film, and for many, my most loved. I am here to draw attention of the people.”

He said the FTII students were asking for the right Shikshparampara. They were not asking for money or more equipment or fewer exams or quotas or privileges. Why should they suffer months of indecision, stress and harassment to go through this?”

Commenting on the decision of the students to return to their classes, Mr. Banerjee said, “What more do you expect the students to do? They didn't burn buses to register their protest. The student union has two duties: to fight for students’ rights and to make sure that the student community does not suffer. They have been extremely mature.”

The group stressed that their appeal was to the people and not the government.

The film-makers join a growing cohort of intellectuals expressing concern over the rise of intolerance in the country.

The first were writers who began returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards in early September following the cold-blooded murder of the 77-year-old rationalist, scholar and Kannada writer M.M. Kalburgi at his home.

Kalburgi’s murder followed a pattern of killings; those of Govind Pansare in February 2015 and that of Narendra Dabholkar in August 2013.

Common to all these murders, apart from their premeditated nature, was the fact that all three victims were noted rationalists and scholars, who had attracted the ire of right-wing Hindu groups. The writers began returning their awards in protest of the Akademi’s silence in the face of these killings.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:33:50 PM |

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