Don’t think freedom of expression ever been so threatened: Nandita Das

Nandita Das shared that the country needs to stand up and take a stance to save the democracy from fading away in the swirl of protests.

By: IANS | Panaji | Published:November 29, 2015 11:40 am
Nandita Das, Nandita Das news, Nandita Das iffi, iffi, iffi 2015, Nandita Das iffi 2015, Nandita Das movies, Nandita Das upcoming movies, entertainment news After superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan stirred the hornet’s nest with their comments on the growing intolerance in the country, critically-acclaimed actress and filmmaker Nandita Das says curbs on freedom of expression are taking a “dangerous” turn and speaking up against such issues is the only way out.

After superstars like Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan stirred the hornet’s nest with their comments on the growing intolerance in the country, critically-acclaimed actress and filmmaker Nandita Das says curbs on freedom of expression are taking a “dangerous” turn and speaking up against such issues is the only way out.

The actress shared that the country needs to stand up and take a stance to save the democracy from fading away in the swirl of protests.

“I don’t think freedom of expression has ever been so threatened. It is something which is dangerous and the only way to counter it is to not be fearful. It is time to speak up and when there are more of us speaking up then nobody is isolated,” Nandita told IANS on the sidelines of Film Bazaar here.

“A lot of my friends are telling me not to say too much, they are scared for my life. Why do I need to feel scared to speak my mind? But this level of fear I have not seen before and I think we all have to come together and save this democracy that we have taken for granted,” she added.

A wave of dissent has seeped into the country with many people expressing their opinions on the “extreme intolerance” in the country. After Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan ruffled feathers over his remarks that his wife Kiran Rao had discussed moving out of India in view of growing intolerance.

Taking notice of these controversies, Nandita is still hopeful for betterment as she feels that not everything is so grim and disappointing.

“We have to remember that there are a few people screaming out loud and they do not represent the whole country. I think the country is still secular, I think most people would want peace and are happy to co-exist with others who maybe different from them in some way or another,” she said.

Nandita, who had faced protests over her socially moving and bold films like “Fire”, asserts that the problem is not new, but has intensified with time.

“Sadly, we are self-censoring ourselves. In the last one year things have become much worse. When Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M. M. Kalburgi are murdered in cold blood for defending free speech and rational thinking, it is unbelievable,” she said.

The actress added that she feels “personally violated” when artists’ freedom of expression is curbed.

“I feel personally violated when M. F. Husain’s paintings are vandalized or the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s book is banned. What is happening to this country? Every second day you are hearing something like this… Voices are being silenced. In a democracy you have to have a space for dissent,” she said.

Nandita has travelled across the globe with her work both on and off the silver screen.

Her films like “Earth” and “Bawandar” have been lauded at home turf as well as on the foreign shores.

So how has the image of India changed internationally with the protests?

“They are shocked because they think ours is a very pluralist and diverse society. While we are economically a developing country, culturally we are rich, but by being so conservative and intolerant, we are telling the world that we are regressing and not progressing,” said Nandita, who is busy with her next project based on the life of Pakistani short story writer Sadat Hassan Manto.

According to her, the focus should be on painting an honest, instead of a good picture on the global map.

“Every country has its good and bad, so we need to be more honest in the portrayal of our country. I too have had my share of attacks over time during the release of ‘Fire’, shooting of ‘Water’ and the marketing of ‘Firaaq’,” she asserts.

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  1. T
    Feb 6, 2016 at 2:21 pm
    Sorry,donot feel freedom f expression tested after Emergency!I too Liv,read,write,feelandexperience happenings for last 63 yrs of my life!but never heard words before may 20q4.All of sudden this word has come outandbecome fashion to known/little known literate figure using thid wordandmedia highlighting in serial!IE has highlighted Rohith cowardice suicide news since 17 jan till yesterday?Surprise today no news/editorial on Rohith?Sameway Dadri case has hyped so high that rightthinking people feel media news has become politician views? In India Intolerance has become pet words whenever to criticize Mr.Modi?Nandita Das has rightly compared/given analytical views on freedom of expression in India!Today small family unable to check doing of their sibling can u expect PM of India should reply to deeds/Misdeeds of 130 crores plus people doing?I,UandOthers alive yesterday-todayandmaybe tomorrow but remember PM blamed more than creator of Universe?Hope newspapeMedia does its part of duty perfectly, others will fall n line?In last 20 plus months no news been ban from publishing favouring/opposing news by GOI than why cry of Intolerance?Pl come out of this weband perform Courageous Journalism!All d best
    1. V
      Nov 30, 2015 at 10:47 am
      She is felt personally violated wen M.F Hussain's pictures vandalised . ..... couldn't digest this. Now please stop spoiling the impression of current government for cheap publicity
      1. A
        Nov 30, 2015 at 8:23 am
        Suddenly India has become India intolerant for her, know why because her father has been given eviction notice for house he oversta for 23 years. Ghar wapsi karo.shame less
        1. A
          Dec 4, 2015 at 6:08 am
          Jatin Das receives notice of eviction for overstaying in the Govt. property for 23 years and suddenly India turns into an intolerant country for Nandita Das. Super co-incidence. Nandita, thanks, but you seemed to have expressed a bit too much.
          1. P
            Nov 29, 2015 at 7:50 am
            And the honest picture should be complete not selectively blind. While addressing terrorism we often say terrorists are to be separated from religion but when this dadri lynching happened we connected it with religion only. Nobody's bothered about Kashmir issue and everyone is so heated up in this intolerance issue. No one gives a fig about what farooq abdullah said about pok ( where many Indians onces lived but were forced to leave due to social unrest made by separatists and now by stani army and terrorsits) but everyone is still bragging about yogi adityanaths bogus comments. Be rational pretest against problems i have no problems with that , rather i support that. but DO NOT BE SELECTIVE. Becauae thats what makes your judgements hypocritical.
            1. S
              Santano Fernandes
              Nov 29, 2015 at 6:27 am
              You dont know anything as you are still in the Dreams of Water film with your head shaved .. .., come out of it as your hair grown now again.
              1. G
                Dec 1, 2015 at 6:54 am
                Nandita Das Father Jatin Das was served eviction notice as he was overstaying in his Govt alloted house . Probably thats the reason India has become intolerance now for Nandita das.. These people are such hypocrites...
                1. A
                  Dec 1, 2015 at 12:09 am
                  Very biased le, Does not reflect opinion of speaker. We have France where people are killed for writing an article. Here in India even after speaking irresponsibly they are talking if intolerance.
                  1. K
                    Kandasami, Coimbatore
                    Nov 30, 2015 at 1:00 pm
                    do you know about the following incidents Ms.Das>?: 1. 1969 Gujarat riots ( Deaths : 660, Prime Minister : Indira hi, Chief minister : Indian National Congress leader Hitendra Desai ) 2. 1976 Turkman gate demolition and rioting ( Deaths : About 150 killed by police, Prime Minister : Indira hi ). Indira hi's government prompted by her son Sanjay launched the demolition drive to cleanse Delhi of slums and force poor residents to leave Delhi and move to distant settlements. The residents of Turkman Gate mostly Muslims refused to move as they would have to commute every day paying heavy bus fares to reach the city to earn their living. They resisted the bulldozing of their houses. On April 18, 1976, the police opened fire on protesters killing several of them. The government who had earlier imposed censorship ordered the newspapers not to report the macre. Indian public came to know about killings through foreign media like BBC. 3. 1979 Marichjhapi incident ( Deaths : Official figures 2 / Hindustan Times quotes 50 to 1000, Prime Minister : Indira hi, Chief Minister : Jyoti Basu) ). 4. 1980 Moradabad riots ( Deaths : Officially 400; unofficial estimates as high as 2500. Prime Minister : Indira hi .The Prime Minister Indira hi suggested that "foreign forces" (referring to stan ) were behind the violence. The government appointed Justice Saxena of the Allahabad High Court to investigate the riots. The Justice Saxena report, submitted in May 1983, indicted Muslim leaders and Chief Minister V. P. Singh for the violence. 5. 1980 Mandai macre ( Deaths : 255-500, Prime Minister : Indira hi , President's rule in Tripura) 6. 1983 Nellie macre ( Deaths : 2191, Prime Minister : Indira hi, Chief Minister : Hiteswar Saikia, Indian National Congress) 7. 1984 Train Penger macre I ( Deaths : 11, Prime Minister : Indira hi, President's rule in Punjab) 8. 1984 anti-Sikh riots ( Deaths : 2800, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi). Rajiv hi, when asked about the riots, said "when a big tree falls, the earth shakes". 9.1984 Hondh-Chillar macre ( Deaths : 32 , Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 10. 1986 Desri Ground macre ( Deaths : 13 , Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 11. 1986 Mallian macre ( Deaths : 20, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 12. 1986 Mukatsar Bus Penger macre ( Deaths : 15, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 13. 1986 Khudda Bus Penger macre ( Deaths : 24, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 14. 1987 Hashimpura macre ( Deaths : 42, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi, CM : Vir Bahadur Singh, Indian National Congress) 15. 1987 Fatehbad Bus Penger macre ( Deaths : 80, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi , CM of Haryana : Bansi Lal ) 16. 1987 Jagdev Kalan macre ( Deaths : 13, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 17. 1988 Rajbah macre ( Deaths : 18, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi ) 18. 1989 Bhagalpur riots ( Deaths : Around 1000, Prime Minister : Rajiv hi, Chief Minister : Satyendra Narayan Sinha,Indian National Congress. )
                    1. K
                      kris menon
                      Nov 29, 2015 at 7:33 am
                      1. P
                        poonish sreen
                        Dec 4, 2015 at 5:05 pm
                        Ms Das seems to have suddenly found the time to make this sudden realisation regarding her personal violation when MF Hussain paintings were vandalised... etc... etc... How convenient, when her father Mr Jatin Das has been told to vacate a property which he has bee occupying for the last 26 years...... 23 years in excess of what he was authorised.... that was acceptable & quite digestible.
                        1. R
                          Ravi Sekaran
                          Nov 30, 2015 at 5:50 am
                          Wait. So Ms. Nandita felt 'personally violated when M. F. Husain’s paintings are vandalized or the Tamil writer Perumal Murugan’s book is banned." Did she also feel personaly violated when her colleague, Kamal Han's movie Vishwaroopam? Also, why rake up the M F Hussein vandalism now? It occurred several years ago when i was in power. M F Hussein himself has been dead for several years! It is obviously being brought up now, out of context, to discredit the present government.
                          1. Y
                            Nov 30, 2015 at 6:47 am
                            So the Honest Image of our Country is: 1. We are more concerned about the Human Rights of Terrorists than our Citizen. 300000 people are living in their Motherland as Refugees. 2. We are still allowing Indians to have 12-15 children. 3. We are not concerned about ISIS misleading our Youth. We are concerned over Modi winning and improving Infrastructure. 4. We are more concerned about religion of victim than Justice to him. 5. We are called intolerant 200 times a day. If we ask why? We are said to be proving your point. 6. Our Soldiers are dying due to cheap Bullet Proof Jackets. We are concerned about Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan's over hyped,stupid and fake "FEAR & INSECURITY". I can continue it for long but I am not very free like you stupids. I don't get Money like you people get from Congress for Creating unrest and fear in society.
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