Actor and director Nandita Das on Sunday said that the MeToo movement was not just about the elitist but also about women across the country who face sexual abuse and harassment every day. Responding to questions on the movement after delivering the Satyajit Ray Memorial Lecture at the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), Das said the movement was against “patriarchy” and even men needed to support it.
“We do not want to trivialise the movement. We have to ensure that any woman who is abused and has been in any way sexually assaulted must come out. This is not a man versus woman fight only. It is a fight against patriarchy. We also need men to be supportive of this kind of movement and not just women. Therefore we need to hear women out and not just make it an elitist thing and to remember that there are many women who are vulnerable all over our country who do not have the vocabulary of MeToo and do not use hashtags. They too are going through a lot of this kind of abuses that we all need to speak up about,” she said.
The actor also said that women have been facing such harassment not only in the film industry but also in every industry. Shifting her focus to the present time, Das was of the view that artists these days are being divided by caste, creed, religion and the colour of their skin.
“I think artists are constantly being divided by caste, creed and religion these days. Even the artists are self censoring themselves. These are dangerous times and not enough artists are coming together and really speaking. When Safdar Hashmi (communist playwright) was killed with whom I had worked for four years, spontaneously artists came on to the streets. We don’t have to wait for Safdar Hashmi and Gauri Lankesh to give up their lives for us to realise that we are living in times where this can happen to any of us. Definitely we want to be stronger but we don’t want to be martyrs,” she said.
She also spoke at length about her recent film Manto and said there has been a right-wing attack on art and culture.
“Why do they want to ban a two-hour film? Why do they want to ban a book? Why do they want to stop someone from painting? If it (art) was not threatening, they would not have attacked it. The fact that it (art) is attacked constantly and freedom of expression is something that we keep fighting about means that art has a significant role to play,” the actor said.