FICCI FRAMES Day 2: Kamal Haasan On Freedom Of Speech

Day 2 of FICCI Frames had an interesting discussion on whether we were oppressing creative expression with Bollywood personalities Mahesh Bhatt, Kamal Haasan and Rahul Bose. (Ramesh Nair / Solaris Images)

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MUMBAI: Day 2 of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) Frames had a discussion on creativity in the Indian Film Industry.

Bollwood director Mahesh Bhatt, actor Rahul Bose and filmmaker/actor Kamal Haasan were present for the discussion along with Baijayant Jay Panda the Minister of Parliament (Lok Sabha). The discussion was moderated by Shoma Chaudhury the Managing Editor of Tehelka.

The session called, “The Gag Order: Are we stifling creative expression?” played out as a freewheeling discussion around the roles of artists, society and the Indian government. The aim was to ensure artistic freedom, freedom of speech and expression depending on India’s current landscape of timidity and fear.

Kamal Haasan, who’s ‘Vishwaroopam’ recently landed into a lot of controversy for apparently being anti a community, said, “Sensibility can come from anywhere. It is not the bastion of the middle class”.

Panda seemed to agree when he said, “It is the job of leaders to resist lynch mobs which they have been pandering to for decades.”

The discussion also looked upon the role of the middle class who have been shaping protests for and against this freedom. All of them present at the discussion agreed that the middle class is selective about who it stands up for.

Rahul Bose felt that there is a need for artists to organize themselves and come together to be “the vanguard for any movement”.

But Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt disagreed. Bhatt said, “Filmmakers are not underground guerrillas.”

Shoma Chaudhury wound up the discussion by saying that there is a need to narrow the definition of what restriction of freedom can stand for. She added that we need to find our own level of cultural acceptability as a mature society.

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