The organising body of ‘Firodiya Karandak’, a popular annual inter-collegiate drama competition in Maharashtra, has decided to restrict plays and skits that are based on ‘sensitive topics’ such as Babri Masjid, Article 370, India-Pakistan relations, Hindu-Muslim relations or caste dynamics. This is the first time in the history of the 40-year-old festival that such restrictions are being imposed.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ajinkya Kulkarni, organiser of Firodiya Karandak, said, “For the past few years, we have observed that several participants from various colleges are focusing on these specific topics such as Hindu-Muslim relations, caste and inter-caste conflicts, Babri Masjid, Article 370 or the relation India shares with Pakistan. Since we do not have methods of censorship on performances, we have decided this year to not allow plays and skits that have any association with sensitive topics… in the last one or two years, these already-sensitive subjects have become more touchy. There is a high possibility that the context of the performance can be misinterpreted by anyone sitting in the audience.”
“Firodiya Karandak has been held annually for over 40 years and students have performed on various themes and subjects. We have never put any restrictions earlier. But, as people say, prevention is better than cure. We have refrained from having skits based on sensitive subjects as, at the end of the day, if there are any repercussions, the organising body will be held accountable,” he added.
He further said that the competition’s participants, in the age group of 18 to 22 years, didn’t really write “mature scripts”. “Several people said that the youth will perform on current issues and there is nothing wrong with that. However, with the recent developments, there is lesser understanding of the issues. We should also move away from such topics which have become more or less repetitive every year. If the students wish to bring to light problems and issues, there are plenty to focus on, such as climate change and the economy,” said Kulkarni.
To encourage “positive content”, the organising body has also come up with a new category this year, for ‘best comedy performance’.
(With inputs from PTI)