Twenty-four film personalities on Thursday joined the protest by artists, academic and intellectuals against growing intolerance in the country, by deciding to return their national awards. In a joint statement addressed to the president and prime minister, they said they are returning their national awards as a „symbolic gesture“, urging the government to “pay attention to our fears, that the warp and weft of our robust democracy might be coming apart in the current atmosphere.”
The statement said, “We carry a sense of hurt and outrage at the events unfolding around us. We are concerned citizens of this country, whose work has been recognised by the Government of India. That is a great honour for us, and in returning this award, we are not rejecting the recognition that the jury has bestowed on us. Neither are we belittling the honour given to us by the people of our country in the form of the National Award.”
Along with Shah and Mirza, the letter was signed by Virendra Saini, Arundhati Roy, Ranjan Palit, Tapan Bose, Shriprakash, Sanjay Kak, Pradip Krishen, Tarun Bhartiya, Amitabh Chakraborty, Madhusree Dutta, Anwar Jamal, Ajay Raina, Irene Dhar Malik, PM Satheesh, Satya Rai Nagpaul, Manoj Lobo, Rafeeq Ellias, Sudheer Palsane, Vivek Sachidanand, Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti, Dr Manoj Nitharwal and Abhimanyu Dange.
Last week, 12 other filmmakers had announced that they are returning their national awards after students of the Film and Television Institute of India withdrew their strike against the government after four months of protest. Actor and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini on Thursday condemned the filmmakers returning their awards, calling it a cheap stunt. She told The Indian Express, „It is deplorable. Rejecting an honour that has been bestowed upon you by the nation is not right. It’s not acceptable.“
Scroll.in, November 12, 2015
Music video driven by censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani is playing during the interval of the Salman Khan-starrer at many cinemas.
The magnetism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spared audiences turning out for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. A 5.30-minute video singing the praises of the prime minister and the Centre’s achievements is playing during the interval of Sooraj Barjatya’s latest movie at several multiplex chains across the country, including PVR Cinemas and Inox.
The video is the brainchild of Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani. It is an expanded version of his recent Mera Desh Hai Mahaan, Mera Desh Hai Jawan. Nihalani has dedicated the video to the prime minister rather than the nation that he has been elected to lead. Nihalani, who is also a movie producer and distributor, had previously made a campaign video for the Bharatiya Janata Party before the 2014 general election, called Har Har Modi.
Nihalani’s latest paean to the man he calls his “action hero” is, like the prime minister itself, in election campaign mode. It appears to have been made to coincide with the Bihar election, since it prominently features popular Bhojpuri singer and actor Dinesh Lal Yadav „Nirahua“ and other personalities from Bhojpuri cinema. The video, directed by Munesh Rawat, celebrates the achievements of Modi and name-checks the various schemes his government has introduced.
The song compares Modi to Mahatma Gandhi. Burly men representing India’s multi-faith diversity pound their chests and declare their love for the prime minister, alongside a montage of Modi’s various meetings with world leaders. In one meme-worthy moment, Modi, or a likeness of him (perhaps the hologram he used during his 2014 prime ministerial campaign) is shown meditating on the top of an icy mountain.
Nihalani did not respond to a text message request for information from Scroll.in about why the clip is being screened during shows of the movie, which stars Salman Khan and Sonam Kapoor.