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Noted lyricist and Rajya Sabha member Javed Akhtar has criticised the cancellation of screenings of Hansal Mehta’s “Aligarh” in Aligarh, calling it bullying and extra-constitutional.
The Manoj Bajpayee-starrer is based on the life of Aligarh Muslim University professor SR Siras, who was sacked on the charges of homosexuality.
It has been alleged a fringe group has arm-twisted exhibitors in Aligarh into cancelling the screening of the biopic. The city’s mayor said the movie defames Aligarh by promoting homosexuality.
“To stop the screenings of the film is wrong. We have a film certification board, which watches the film and tells what needs to be cut.
“So, when it has given the clearance to the movie then if you remove by extra-constitutional ways then it is not right. If you have a complaint go to court but to take off a film by bullying is wrong,” Akhtar told reporters here.
The veteran screenwriter said homosexuality has always been a part of human race and creating hullabaloo over it is wrong.
“Homosexuality has nothing to do with culture. When ‘Fire’ (starring Akhtar’s wife Shabana Azmi) was made, a lot of hullabaloo was created and it was taken off from theatres, then taken to court… Homosexuality exists in human race, it is everywhere in the world.”
He was speaking at the launch of TV show “The Golden Years 1956-75 A musical journey with Javed Akhtar”. The writer will be seen hosting the 25-episode series, to premiere on Zee Classi from March 6.
The 71-year-old writer was also asked about his views on alleged danger to freedom of expression in the country.
Akhtar said freedom of expression is a must in a democratic country like India but it also taken for granted.
His comments come in the wake of incidents of backlash directed against opinions and protests by different sections in the country.
“Democracy has no meaning without freedom of expression. It should be there, it is taken for granted but no freedom in the world is limitless. According to common sense, freedom of expression cannot be limitless but what should be the limit is a serious question.
“To decide this is very difficult because if you don’t put any limit, people will take wrong advantage and if you put limit then they will try to suppress you so where is the right balance in this is something we need to think about,” he said.