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Freedom of expression comes with a price tag

Freedom of expression comes with a price tag
Highlights

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was in the city on Monday to attend the Hyderabad Literary Fest. The director was critical on the state of affairs of unconventional films and their acceptance when it’s against the public’s perspective. Terming the audience as conservative, Mahesh rues that alternative voices against the popular opinion are always stifled

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt was in the city on Monday to attend the Hyderabad Literary Fest. The director was critical on the state of affairs of unconventional films and their acceptance when it’s against the public’s perspective. Terming the audience as conservative, Mahesh rues that alternative voices against the popular opinion are always stifled

It is a fact that Indians, by and large, enjoy freedom within imprisonment, albeit it comes with a rider. However, we can stay contended if we look at the sorry state-of-affairs of freedom of expression in the neighbouring countries. I was called scandalous when I made my first film, ‘Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain’, which revolved multiple relationships between two conmen and a prostitute on the run.

I also had to run from pillar to post to get my film ‘Zakhm’ released. In fact, I had to digitally alter some images to get the film certified and released. People always wonder why commercial and art cinema cannot co-exist. But, we don’t realise the fact that gone are the days when movies of Raj Kapoor and Satyajit Ray drew equal appreciation from the audience.

Mahesh Bhatt

Today, market forces determine the type of cinema that is made. They only ask one thing-why make parallel or art cinema when they are commercial duds at the box-office? They seldom understand that passion drives the people to make such parallel cinema, which enjoys a mature audience.

Contrary to the general perception that an artiste is a custodian of the country’s beliefs in aesthetics, we are an increasingly conservative society, where anything against the populace will not be appreciated. Or even scorned and called blasphemous. It is sad to note that now-a-days, freedom of expression comes with a price tag. Alternative voices against the popular opinion are stifled.

In many cultural contexts there is a very thin line and the artiste should forever be conscious of this unwritten rule of law. Each society that calls itself free has to introspect on ‘how far and no further they can go’ because there will always be an alternative voice which thinks on the same lines.

Given the widening gap (and the twain shall never meet) in the name of individual liberty, we, as responsible individuals of the society, have to think on how far we can go in this quest for freedom of speech and expression.

By:Aditya Parankusam

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