Why do the politicians want to control art, culture, cinema?

October 30, 2017 07:35 AM

 Chandigarh: A sea of ideas, thoughts, expressions, perspectives, emotions… all found space on stage and amid a large audience, on the concluding day of, ‘Nationalism and Culture, a Dialogue’, a two-day national seminar organised by the Progressive Writers’ Association, Punjab, with the Punjab Arts Council.

While nationalism, its changing meanings and faces in today’s time was the core of the seminar, with a call for a understanding the challenges of the times, Rajendra Rajan, National General Secretary, Progressive Writers’ Association, said the success of the seminar, was an indication of the support for progressive and secular ideas, with the need to end all discrimination and equality the primary goals in today’s society.

“A cultural revolution is needed for Hindutva is targeting our culture, secularism and unity in the name of nationalism. The freedom of our writers is in danger, they are being targeted and we need to talk about these issues, for it’s only through dialogue, conversations and coming together that we can dispel darkness. People have the power to change the world, and seminars such as this is a resolve towards solutions and transformations. People are being filled with hatred and a cultural revolution is needed. Writers must be social activists and stand by the marginalised,” said Rajan.

The two sessions of the day were, ‘Nationalism and Marginalised Sections and Nationalism and Media and Cinema’. Sarita Srivastava, a writer from Indore, raised questions about writings of woman, their status and how the reach of literature needs to be increased, for writers cannot be in their limited spaces and creative zones and in these times of unrest, doubt, discrimination, writers have to protest with people, build connections with the common people, their issues, problems and take the role of activists, and with that will emerge a collective voice. 

“And why make men and women competitors, why can’t we walk together and work towards a better tomorrow?” questioned Srivastava. Agreed Jasbir Kesar, a writer from Punjab, adding if the words and voices did reach the marginalised and how these seminars, progressive thoughts and new writings must reach rural areas and small towns . “Katte bhi chalo, badhte bhi chalo, baju bhi bahaut hai, sar bhi bahaut,” she quoted Faiz as her closing statement.

Ira Bhaskar a professor at JNU, as part of ‘Nationalism and Media and Cinema’ gave an absorbing audio and video presentation on the role of cinema as an art form, mass art, to social responsibility, social conscience. “The questions are why do the politicians want to control culture, cinema, they exert pressure on the functioning of an autonomous body like CBFC. Sadly except the print media, there are very few voices and we want to explore the role of film in today’s field.”

Bhaskar talked at length on three films — Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, when a huge uproar was created because Pakistani actor Fawad Khan was part of the film, and producer Karan Johar was forced to apologise for the same. Bhaskar then talked about Udta Punjab, which was in controversy because of the political issues it raised, and 89 cuts were demanded.

“The Tamil film Mersal, speaks of several recent policy decisions, GSTM demonetization, issues of political control et al. Garam Hawa was another film that was in the news for the political statements it made, while Final Solutions on the Gujarat riots raised many relevant questions. What is cinema’s response to social-political conditions, does our cinema have imaginings on our culture.there is a lot to probe.”

Documentary filmmaker Rahul Roy asked if we have any ideas, thoughts for an alternative nationalism. “We cannot fight within boundaries, sadly, progressive nationalism ended in 1947 with our Independence. During my projects in Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, interacting with other filmmakers, I realised how much we are connected and have a sense of belonging and cinema questions so many ideas with documentary films exploring time, space to create new meanings, relevant to our times, conditions and people,” he said.


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