Karnataka

EC notice to Yakshagana artiste raises question on creative freedom

A video grab of the Yakshana performance where “politically motivated words” were used.

A video grab of the Yakshana performance where “politically motivated words” were used.   | Photo Credit: Email Handout

Notice was later withdrawn

The notice served to a Yakshagana artiste, by an Election Commission official in Dakshina Kannada, for allegedly violating the model code of conduct during a performance, has given rise to a larger debate on the extent to which artistic expression can come under scrutiny.

Returning Officer of Moodbidri Assembly Constituency V. Prasanna, in a notice to Durgaparameshwari Prasadita Dashavatara Yakshagana Mandali of Kateel on April 2, said that its artiste, Poornesh Acharya, had used “politically motivated words” in a performance at Bannadka in Padumarnadu village, near Moodbidri, on April 1. Hence he should not be allowed to perform in any future performances.

But speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Acharya claimed that he had performed a comedian’s role in Maanya village near Kumble in Kasaragod district, Kerala, on March 24. Its video had gone viral on social media later.

The model code of conduct in Karnataka came into effect from March 26. The notice by the Returning Officer did not specify the “politically motivated words”, but in the video the actor is heard saying “Ivanarva Ivanarva ... Iva Namva Iva Namva”.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi had used these words recently during his election campaign in Bombay Karnataka and in the coastal region last month. Mr. Acharya told The Hindu that since it was a comedian’s role he had used humour to lift his performance and added that he did not drop any names which could be likened to any political leader.

Mr. Prasanna told The Hindu that the notice was issued to prevent Yakshagana artistes from mimicking political leaders. Following the notice, the management of the mela did not allow him to perform on April 3. But it allowed him to perform from April 4. “I received a call from the management on Wednesday stating that the commission has withdrawn its notice and hence I can perform,” he said.

Mr. Prasanna confirmed that the notice was withdrawn at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

However, Yakshagana lovers criticised the notice and the mela on social media. M.A. Hegde, chairman, Karnataka Yakshagana Academy, called it an “extreme step” and said that one should “understand the humour of Yakshagana.”

K. Chinnappa Gowda, former Vice-Chancellor, Karnataka Folklore University, also underlined the need to understand the cultural context of humour that is typical of Yakshagana.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 1:15:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/ec-notice-to-yakshagana-artiste-raises-question-on-creative-freedom/article23437609.ece

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