Speakers at open forum condemn curbs on creative freedom
The curbs on freedom of expression are taking us towards an end to questioning and pursuit of knowledge, Bengali filmmaker and actor Aparna Sen has said.
She was speaking after inaugurating an open forum discussion on the topic of freedom of expression, as part of the 22nd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) here on Saturday.
“In the whole issue around Padmavati, the film itself is not important. What is important is what it stands for. What is at stake is creative freedom. We are not fighting for the film itself. I, as a proud Bengali who holds Tagore and Subhas Chandra Bose in high regard, can protest if someone says something untrue or objectionable about them. But I cannot create a law-and-order issue. If such an issue is created, it is incumbent upon the government to bring it under control. If the government cannot do that, it should admit its failure and step down,” she said.
Speaking of her dream project Sitayana, a take on Ramayana from the viewpoint of Sita, the filmmaker said she had to abandon it considering the issues and pressures she would have to face.
“Anything you do, there is likely to be a price on your head. We live in a time of fear. That is something that worries me deeply. This is how dictatorship starts. Why are we talibanising Hinduism? Hinduism has always had a liberal outlook, taking in the views of everyone into consideration. It has been one religion that has always asked questions, not suppressed them,” she said.
Shashi Tharoor, MP, in his keynote address, said we had now become a culture where those who claimed the right to be offended always managed to get their way.
“In the next session of Parliament, I will move a private member’s Bill questioning specific provisions of the Cinematograph Act,” he said. Mr. Tharoor said the government of Kerala should stand up for the aggrieved filmmakers and screen the films S Durga and Padmavati, even if the censors failed to clear the movies.