When it comes to freedom of speech in art and cinema, India has found itself in utter chaos due to several reasons. The one unfortunate reason is the politicisation of the liberal arts. The recently-released “Padmaavat” is a proof of the fact that films have become an instrument of politics and propaganda. When a country faces protests by fringe elements, unfortunately on many occasions constitutional rights are sidelined by the democratically elected government. This is not acceptable in a democracy.
Indian cinema is our nation’s soft power, which if efficiently utilised could take India’s culture and heritage to a new level of exposure. Bollywood is very famous in several Western and Asian countries. Even in Russia and China, Hindi cinema has a huge fan following. But, politics on several occasions has been a severe deterrent to cinematic thoughts and ideas.
The Government, whose duty is to protect the rights of its citizens, sides with the fringe in the name of upholding our culture. This is to cultivate votes and remain in power. But, is this the actual duty of an elected government?
Some politicians are not able to comprehend that if this freedom is curtailed, then the aspirations of our youth also vanish and a sense of fear prevails in their minds. India has vast demographic dividend potential, but if the freedom of creative arts is not promoted and protected, then innovation is merely a dream.
Moreover, the “outrage” against films have become common, the threats to directors, actors, producers by the so-called culture protection ‘armies’ are the new normal. Threatening the audience is also becoming a trend now. One prominent reason for all of this is politics and a failure of our representatives to adhere to their Constitutional duties.
It is the foremost task of the State (Judiciary, Legislature, Executive) to protect and uphold the law. Anyone using undemocratic ways to raise issues must be penalised to retain the supremacy of the law. Fearless expression, though with responsibility, is the key to bring out the best in creative-minded individuals. Art and cinema are not only entertainment but are also a mirror of our society.
Hence, politics dominating these fields is not a desirable situation for India. Democracy can be run through democratic principles, and the Indian Constitution guarantees certain Fundamental rights for every citizen, so they must be protected. After all, terrorising the artists and art is not part of Indian culture and therefore must be discarded and condemned. The fringe groups must be booked for threatening and damaging public property, irrespective of their caste or religion. Legitimate concerns of all groups must be raised and solved through the due process of law. This nation is built on the principle of collective responsibility, and we must do our best to uphold it.
Politicians should understand that their legitimacy lies only because of the people they represent. They must not support unreasonable agitations that have the potential to create havoc in the country. Freedom, which we gained after sacrificing innumerable freedom fighters, must be cherished and nurtured to show the world that India is a mature democracy, which could be a torchbearer in an otherwise tumultuous world.