Defending our Artists

Rushdie

The ban imposed on the release of Vishwaroopam triggered a protest not only in the film industry but also among the millions of cinema fans all over the country. Few realize that this is just another dot in the line. The story of India supporting its religious fanatics over its artists is not a new one. It has existed for a rather long time. The question is how are we going to put an end to it?

Salman Rushdie

‘India is in a state of Cultural Emergency’

As the Vishwaroopam drama unfolds, artists are taking the opportunity to voice the fact that they are the ones who are rather unfortunate to be shunned down in their battle with the religious fanatics. As Salman Rushdie puts it, “It may be because the writers, painters, filmmakers, artists don’t have armies. We don’t have the boys to put on streets to defend our film, novel or painting. So it’s not hard to attack”. Artists in our country are soft targets.

People have begun to identify themselves by the things they hate rather than those they love. An artist wielding his freedom of expression is an excuse that they use to show their hatred – a trigger for the bomb. Should such people be encouraged? Should the generations-to-come believe that their hatred towards an entity is more important than artists’ opinion of the same? There is a fine line that separates the artists from those who see them as a threat to culture. Artists need to understand that what they portray grabs attention, potentially influencing the nation. Religious fanatics need to understand that creativity for an artist is like milk for a cat. Art will die without creativity.

India, however, has not understood this delicate balance. For years our protestors have been encouraged while our artistes have been forced to withdraw themselves. It’s time we showed support to our artists in such situations. They uphold the cultural heritage of our nation. As Rushdie says, “India is in a state of cultural emergency” – and she must realize it soon enough.

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