Filmmakers join to protest ‘intolerance’; Dibakar, nine others return awards
New Delhi: After
writers, it’s now filmmakers turn to raise their voice against the ‘rising
intolerance’ in the country. Noted Bollywood director Dibakar Banerjee and nine
others on Wednesday decided to return their national awards in protest against
the FTII row, Dadri lynching and murders of activists.
The decision by
Banerjee came hours after the agitating students of FTII called off their
139-day strike against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman of
Banerjee and other
filmmakers said their decision to return the awards was taken in view of the
apathy displayed by the government in addressing the students issues and the
general environment of intolerance against debate.
“I am not here out of
anger, outrage. Those emotions have long been exhausted. I am here to draw
attention. Returning my very first National Award which I received for ‘Khosla
Ka Ghosla’ is not easy. It was my first film and for many my most loved,”
Banerjee told a press conference here.
“If there is
intolerance of debate, of questioning and usually intolerance of a student body
wanting to have a better teaching environment and that intolerance manifests in
apathy, then that is what we are protesting against,” he said.
Noted documentary maker
Patwardhan said the government has encouraged “extreme right wings”.
“I haven’t seen so many incidents happen at
the same time. This is a sign of what is beginning to happen and I think that
is why people are responding all over the country in different ways,” he said,
referring to the instances of writers returning their Akademi awards.
“We are focusing on the
FTII. This is a struggle that we are supporting from the beginning.
The FTII students today
ended their 139-day-old strike to return to the classes against the appointment
of Gajendra Chauhan, but said they will continue to seek his removal.
Banerjee said the
decision of the students to resume classes is pragmatic as they are merely
being responsible towards their colleagues and juniors.
“What do you expect the
students to do? The student bodies who are protesting have got two
responsibilities – one is to protest for their rights and the other is to see
that their colleagues, co-students and their juniors must not suffer.”
The director said that
he was “against the trivialisation” of the students protests by diverting
attention from the core issues.
“… What other proof do
you need of their sincerity and the validity of the attitude of the students of
FTII than this. Not a single bus has been burnt, not a single stone has been
thrown, they have only gone for debates and discussion.”
Other filmmakers who
have returned their awards are Nishtha Jain of “Gulabi Gang” fame, Paresh
Kamdar, Kriti Nakhwa, “Hunterrr” director Harshvardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh
Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai.
They have issued a
letter to President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We feel compelled to
return the honour the state has bestowed on us. Condoling deaths without
interrogating the forces that scripted those murder revealed a tacit acceptance
of the ugly force distorting our country.
“As filmmakers we stand
with the students of FTII and are determined to not let them shoulder the
entire burden of the protest,” the letter reads.
“FTII students are
asking for the right gurus. Not quotas or equipment. How are they criminals?,”
Documentary maker Anand
Patwardhan hoped that others would similarly come forward and return their
Rakesh Sharma, one of
the filmmakers, said: “Every Indian needs to speak out against the current
reign of bigotry, intolerance, fear and intimidation that now threatens the
very idea of India.” (With inputs from PTI)