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Posted at: Nov 16, 2017, 12:41 AM; last updated: Nov 16, 2017, 5:26 PM (IST)

Creative freedom in ICU...

IFFI is playing too safe and there is vandalism over Padmavati, a film which may or may not contain offensive scenes. Clearly, artistic liberty is under threat
Creative freedom in ICU...
Deepika Padukone in Padmavati


Creative freedom has been the burning issue this week. First, two films got dropped from International Film Festival of India, resulting in Sujoy Ghosh stepping down from its jury. Second, the vandalism over yet-to-release Padmavati for hurting religious sentiments continue; a multiplex in Kota where the trailer of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus was screened bore the brunt. Actor-director Farhan Akhtar opened a new front by pointing out that there is ‘lack of unity in the film fraternity’.

Is it just a transient phase or a serious one in which creative expression is in the line of fire? Writers, filmmakers and film enthusiasts share their take.

It’s very unfortunate

Attacks on creative freedom  have worsened over the last few years. Not only is this unfortunate but shameful that no one from the authority has taken a stand on it. We have seen goons having their way whether it was Padmavati, Udta Punjab, or Indu Sarkar. The jury is set up by the government and the films passed by it and cleared by the Censor Board, how can they just be drooped? Marathi cinema is thriving  and to drop its opening film at IFFI is just not acceptable. 

My Journey: My first Laado won me a national award but I had to take up a fight with the government for that. I am sorry that things have only worsened. And sadly, the film fraternity hasn’t stood together for creative freedom. 

Ashwini Chaudhary, film director

Oh, so politically motivated 

As a filmmaker, I strongly feel that it’s the government that’s more paranoid than the people of this country. You can’t drop two films just because their names are Nude or S*** Durga. We have survived with all our differences for all this while. Khajuraho is an example of broadmindedness of our society. But when the authorities try to control what you eat, what you wear, watch or say, it definitely becomes a serious problem. All these riots, we have ever had, were politically motivated and that’s a sorry state.

My journey: So far, I have never faced any such concern. Environment and gender issues remain my subject and I have seen that once women trust you, there is absolute freedom of expression in their take and the intimacy in my films is a reflection of that.

— Kavita Bahl, filmmaker

It is an insult to the creative minds

Heedless attacks on artistic expressions are a matter of grave concern. Censorship and vandalism are being used frequently to suppress genuine creative expression and the same is backed by the regime and political institutions, it is nothing short of repression against the community. A film is not work of one single individual but a collective product of a team working in synergy. Such a dastardly attack is an insult to the people working behind a production and is utterly condemnable.

My take: The government ought to protect the artistes and their works from such regressive pressure groups and prepare a practical and sane policy with all stakeholders to protect and promote works of art. 

— Harish, co-founder, Chandigarh Creative Cinema Circle

Let the court decide

The recent two incidents are sure a threat to freedom of expression. When films have been cleared by the Censor Board, nobody should have the right to stall the screenings. Let people reject the film. If any film is biased or bad obviously people would scuttle it by not buying tickets. If there is no curb on political leaders’ speeches and only legal recourse is the way out, then let the film take the same route. If any movie has intentionally hurt the sentiments of a particular group, let the court take a call. 

My journey: Though there has been no direct confrontation, I have written under pressure... what if my work is interpreted this way or that.

— Dr Atamjit, playwright, director


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