I don’t work or perhaps even think as a film maker any more. But many years ago, someone in their folly or wisdom thought to give 2 of the films I made National Awards. Today, in solidarity with the students of the FTII who are being bullied and humiliated into accepting 3rd rate people to preside over their destinies, I wish to return these 2 Awards to a Government that is taking this country down several wrong paths.
What is happening to the FTII today is only a symptom of what this government has systematically tried to do with a large number of educational and professional institutions of excellence in India and filling them with their own appointees purely on the basis of their saffron identity.
All across this country, artists and writers and academics have come together to forge this movement of Protest. The government say it is ‘manufactured’ and the work of a small minority that is not in touch with reality but it will discover soon enough that we are just the tip of the iceberg. A tsunami of resentment and anguish is building up against the tenor and policies of this government. We just happen to be the visible tip of the movement.
People of many different shades of opinion have called for ‘Tolerance” – this is a sad euphemism for what we should really want and strive for. Do we simply want to “tolerate” our Muslim or Christian brothers and sisters? Of course not! We want a country where religious faith recedes into a private, individual sphere and is not a badge of identity. We wish for a country where we can trust our government to strive for peace and social justice, instead of actively fanning the fires of communal identity (because it believes this will win them elections).
I work today in the sphere of the Environment, where this government’s policies are even more nakedly regressive. In sphere after sphere – forest clearance, wildlife conservation, river-linking, and the various ways in which all these aspects impact forest-dwelling adivasis – we see this government pursuing reckless policies that are crafted to suit the needs and appetites of mining companies and greedy corporates.
I am returning my Awards because I am deeply concerned and ashamed of what this government is doing to this country and to its own people