Bollywood veterans slam move terming it as a publicity gimmick and an insult
MUMBAI: After a host of filmmakers, such as Dibakar Banerjee and Anand Patwardhan, returned various government awards and honours they have received to express solidarity with FTII students, a few members of the Hindi film fraternity termed it as a “publicity gimmick” and an ‘insult’. Anupam Kher, Madhur Bhandarkar and Ashoke Pandit are among those who have called the step, which is a mark of protest against impediments to freedom of speech and expression in the country, disrespectful.
Bhandarkar, a National Award-winning filmmaker, who is known for using his camera to pan on the dark side of society, shared on Twitter that returning a prize is not only an insult to the honour but also to one’s craft. “In my view, giving away the National Award is disrespect to oneself and also to actors, technicians, audiences, jury members, and the [Indian] president,” tweeted Bhandarkar, who has won National Awards for his films, such as Page 3 and Chandni Bar.
Through a series of tweets, Pandit shared, “When are these #scientists #writers #filmmakers returning the cash proponent of their awards? #ViralRevolt.” He also said, “Dibakar Banerjee should have used some other means of publicising his film rather than falling into the trap of fraud gang of #secularists.”
Film-makers protest intolerance in India
Vivek Agnihotri of Buddha in a Traffic Jam fame criticised the move, saying the filmmakers have already exploited the honour to their advantage. “India is the first and the only country where people don’t refuse awards but return them after milking them to their advantage,” Agnihotri posted.
Even Anupam Kher shared, “This #AwardWapsiGang has not insulted the government, but the jury, the chairman of the jury and the audiences who watched their films.” The acting veteran added, “Some of these usual suspects of #AwardWapsiGang were instrumental in getting me out of censor board the moment Congress came in power. #Agenda.”
The select filmmakers made the move on Wednesday, only hours after three prominent alumni of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) announced they would return their National Awards to protest “an atmosphere of intolerance” in the country in the last few months.
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Apart from Banerjee and Patwardhan, the filmmakers who returned the awards on Wednesday are Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai. With the move, they have extended their support to the agitating FTII students in Pune.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2015.
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