Actor Prakash Raj has said that artistes or creative people would be responsible for making a society coward if they become cowards themselves. He was speaking at the inaugural function of the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival of Kerala here on Saturday night. Raj said, “When I come to Kerala I don’t come with a script to talk because there is no censor here. This is one state where I can breath without fear. Today in India, there is an agenda at work. We are passing through difficult times. It is not just creative voice, any form of dissent is trying to be silenced.”
“I have started talking because I want to tell them that when you silence a voice, a louder voice would be born. If we the creative people, or artistes become cowards, we should realise that we would be responsible to make a society coward. It is important for being the voice of those who cannot raise their voices,” he said.
Amid applause from the audience, Raj said, “I raise my voice not because I belong to any political party. I raise my voice as an artiste. Because I feel responsible to speak. Because, we the film fraternity, or artistes of society, are not what they are because of the talent they have, but they are what they are because of love from society. This is very important for such artistes who owe their life, their name, their fame and their comfort to society to pay back.”
“They are threatening me and I laugh at them. When they try to silence me, I start singing. What all would they take away from me. I don’t need the support of any political party to stand among people. Whatever you do to me, they would see and they would know,” he said.
Referring to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s decision not to screen S Durga at the 48th edition of IFFI in Goa, Raj said, “They have a problem with a film called S Durga. But the same people don’t have any problems with Durga wine and bars. They don’t have any problems when a street named Durga is dirty.”
Observing that it is time for everyone to put their foot down and oppose those equating Hindutva and nationalism, Raj said Hindutva is a way of life. But when these people force a narrative that Hindutva and nationalism are the same they are trying to put something else in the guise of Hindutva.
He said a film being stopped is the most dangerous thing. “When creativity is being stopped or free expression is being stopped, the most dangerous disease has taken over society. There have been continuous efforts and incidents to stop screening of a film, stop an art work or freedom of expression in the past, but now we have started questioning it.’’
“You are trying to silence voices and instil fear so that the next generation would be even afraid to think. We shouldn’t let that happen,” he said. He said today when someone is lynched in Rajasthan or someone is threatened that their nose would be cut down and a prize money announced, and if the culprits can go scot-free, we “need to ask what the kind of narrative being pushed is”. He said when Chief Ministers elected with big mandate say they are helpless, “we should ask them to step down”. Raj said since those who do all these believe in janma, they seem to be the reincarnation of Hitler.