Posts Tagged ‘Open Letter’

dibakarभारत के मां, बाप, बेटे, बेटियों, शिक्षकों, छात्रों को एक खुली चिट्ठी

जिस स्कूल में मैं नर्सरी से 12वीं तक पढ़ा हूँ उसके कार्यवाहक व पृष्ठपोषक वह थे जिन्हें अाज राइट विंग, हिन्दु्त्ववादी या अाम भाषा में “संघी” कहा जायेगा. स्कूल की शिक्षाव्यवस्था का सनातन हिंदू संस्कृति से रिश्ता बहुत गहरा था. हमें हिंदी और संस्कृत काफ़ी ज़ोर देकर पढ़ाई गई.

स्कूल के वार्षिकोत्सव का अारम्भ गुरुवन्दना से होकर वादविवाद, सितार, गिटार-वादन, नुक्कड़-नाटक,संस्कृत काव्य पाठ, क़व्वाली और मुशायरा से गुज़र कर सरस्वती वंदना से समापन होता था. हमें सिखाया जाता था कि भारत दुनिया के उन महान समाजों में से है जिसमें सभी के लिए जगह है. पांचवी क्लास में ही मुझे ‘वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्’ का अर्थ ज्ञात था हमारे कड़क और एक किलो वज़नी थप्पड़ वाले संस्कृत सर की बदौलत. छठी क्लास तक मैंने गणित, भौतिकी, रसायन विज्ञान और जीव विज्ञान हिन्दी में पढ़ा. हमारे सोंधी खुशबू वाली स्कूल डायरी में गायत्री मंत्र, संस्कृत काव्य और गीता के चुने हुए हिस्से थे जो मुझे आज भी कंठस्थ हैं. इसके साथ-साथ हम वही इतिहास पढ़ते थे जिसे अब ‘लेफ़्टिस्ट’, ‘एलीटिस्ट’ और ‘स्युडो-सेक्युलर’ कहा जाने लगा है – जो भी उसका अर्थ हो. उसका कुछ कुछ अभी भी सच सा लगता है, और कुछ नहीं.

अंग्रेज़ी के वर्चस्व के इस ज़माने में आज भी हिंदी, संस्कृत और प्राचीन भारत पर मेरा (अधूरा) दखल देखकर मेरे दोस्तबाग इम्प्रेस हो जाते हैं। मैं अपने स्कूल का जितना भी शुक्रिया अदा करूँ कम होगा, जिसने तीन हजार सालों के मानव इतिहास को सहजता से समझने की योग्यता मुझे दी, साथ ही वक़्त के साथ चलना भी सिखाया. मैं जो भी हूँ, अपने उस स्कूल की वजह से हूँ. इसका गर्व है मुझे.

मुझे अाज तक कभी भी ऐसा नहीं लगा कि मेरे स्कूल की शिक्षा ग़लत है. एक बार भी हमें ये नहीं पढ़ाया गया कि भारत से प्यार करने के लिए किसी से से नफ़रत करने की ज़रूरत है. इसका गर्व है मुझे.

मेरे जैसे अनगिनत भारतीय अाज भारत के नागरिक हैं – जिन्हें अपने स्कूल या कालेज पे गर्व है.

भारत के अभिभावक, शिक्षक और छात्रगण, अब समय अा गया है एक निर्णय का – कि जिस दिन हमारे बच्चे पढ़ाई पूरी करके भविष्य के भारत में क़दम रखें तो उन्हें अपने स्कूल पे फ़ख्र होगा तो किस बात का होगा? कितना बड़ा प्लेग्राउन्ड या वी अाइ पी पार्किंग है उसकी? या कितने लाख की फीस है? या किस फिल्मस्टार का बेटा क्लासमेट है? या किस नेता का जिगरी चेयरमैन है?

या फिर अपने शिक्षकों का? हमारे संस्कृत सर, हमारी अंग्रेज़ी मैम, मेरे प्रिंसिपल सर और वो सभी शिक्षक जिनका हमने आदर किया, जिनसे डरे, जिन पर हम फ़िदा हुए, जिनके हम दीवाने रहे, जिनकी हमने पीठ पीछे नकल उतारी और जिन्होंने हमारे कान खींचे. इन शिक्षकों ने हमें केवल विद्या नहीं, जुनून भी दिया. सिर्फ पांच स्टेप्स मेँ सेट थियरी पैराडाॅक्स साबित करने का, या बिना सांस लिये एक मिनट तक रावण के शिवस्तोत्र की अावृत्ति का. मैं जिस प्रोफ़ेशनल इंस्टीट्यूट में गया वहाँ के पेड़ के नीचे बैठकर शिक्षकों ने हमें जुनून दिया छोटे भारतीय शहरों के लिए सस्ता और सेफ रिक्शा बनाने का, या सर्व भारतीय लोटे के अनूठे आकार पर फिदा होने का. हमे एक बार भी ये भनक न पड़ी हम राइट हैं या ले्फ्ट! मास हैँ या एलीटिस्ट!

कभी ऐसा नहीं लगा कि महान कुछ हो रहा है – कभी किसी शिक्षक ने हमें भारत से प्यार करने, देशभक्त बनने या देश की रक्षा करने के लिए नहीं कहा. लेकिन अब मालूम पड़ता है कि जब उन्होंने हमें ब्रह्मगुप्त के चतुर्भुज समीकरण, दिनकर की कविता, रस्किन बॉण्ड और मंटो की कहानियां, भारतीय मलमल की बारीक़ी, बंगाल के टेराकोटा टाइल की सुंदरता या लद्दाख में विश्व की सबसे ऊंची हवाई पट्टी के बारे में बताया और साहिर के फिल्मी गाने गाये, उन्होंने हमारे दिल में चुपके से हमें बताए बिना देशप्रेम की वह तीली लगा दी जो आज भी सुलग रही है.

उस अगन का सबूत नम्बर एक? करोड़ों भारतीय, जो अाज भी भारत में हर नाइन्साफी, मजबूरी, तकलीफ से जूझते हुऐ यहीं जी रहे हैं और जम के जी रहे हैं. सबूत नम्बर दो? वह लाखों भारतीय जो भारत के बाहर भारत के लिये तरसते हुए अपने केबल वाले से देसी चैनल के देने के मुद्दे पे रोज़ झगड़ते हैं!

भारत की शिक्षा अपने अाप में एक सीख है। हजारों वर्षों से भारत में अध्ययन-अध्यापन की बेजोड़ परंपरा रही है. इस परंपरा का केंद्र गुरु और शिष्य हैं. ये यूँ ही नहीं है कि द्रोण, कृप, कपिल, बुद्ध, महावीर, शंकर और नानक आज भी पौराणिक कथाओं और धर्मग्रंथों में हमारे बीच जीते हैं. ये अाखिरकार कुछ भी हों, सबसे पहले ये शिक्षक ही थे जिन्होंने शिष्यों के एक विशाल समूह को प्रेरित किया.

हमारे बचपन के शिक्षक हमें दूसरे भारतीयों के साथ भारत में रहना सिखाते थे। वह दूसरे भारतीय भी ऐसे स्कूल-कॉलेजों से पढ़कर आए थे जहाँ सहजता से निभाई जाने वाली भारतीयता सिखाई गई थी. हम रूड़की से पढ़कर पास होते और चेन्नई में काम करने जाते थे। पंजाबियों से भरी दिल्ली में रह रहे बंगाली लड़के का बेस्टफ्रेंड एक गुजराती लड़का बन जाता था. किसी ऐसे राज्य में जहां कभी नहीं गए वहां के इंजीनियरिंग कॉलेज में भर्ती होने से पहले हम एकबार भी नहीं सोचते थे. कोइ ऐसा हाॅस्टल जहां एक समुदाय गिनती में भारी हो हमे कभी इतना त्रास न देता था जितना अब देता है। क्या बदल गया फिर?

आज बहुत सारे कारनामे हो रहे हैं जिनको सही ठहराने के लिए हमारी प्राचीन परंपरा का उल्लेख किया जाता है.अगर हम केवल शिक्षापरंपरा का उल्लेख करें तो तर्क, युक्ति, सवाल जवाब, डिबेट – इनके बिना वह परंपरा गूंगी गुड़िया रह जाती है जिसके साथ केवल खेल खेला जाता हो। भारत का सबसे पुराना सिलेबस है – वाद और विवाद। भारत की सबसे पुरानी “कोर्सबुक” वेद के सबसे जियाले, रोंगटे खड़े कर देने वाले श्लोक – वह बस सवाल हैं और कुछ नहीं! उपनिषद्, दर्शन, मीमांसा – कहीं भी देखें – वे गुरु और शिष्य के बीच प्रश्नोत्तर के रूप में किए गए संवाद हैं.

सही शिक्षक हमें सही राह दिखाता है. सही रास्ता वही दिखा सकता है जिसे खुद सही रास्ता दिखता हो. विश्व का सबसे प्रतिभाशाली चित्रकार व्याकरण सिखाने में अव्वल फेल होगा! और देशप्रेम का पाठ फिल्ममेकिंग या गणित पढ़ाते हुए बखूबी पढ़ाया जा सकता है, बशर्ते उस गुरू को फिल्म मेकिंग या गणित से प्रेम हो! . इसके लिए देशभक्ति के अलग सिलेबस की जरूरत नहीं है। क्योंकि ये सिलेबस अक्सर वही लोग बनाते हैं जिन्हे अपना उल्लू सीधा करने कि लिये अापके मासूम बच्चे की दरकार है बतौर रिक्रूट।

भारत के अभिभावकों और छात्रों, हमें दिखाने की जरूरत है कि हम अपने देश से उन लोगों के मुक़ाबले ज़्यादा प्यार करते हैं जो देशप्रेम की लवस्टोरी मैं अकेले हीरो बन रहे हैं.

जिस भारत से हम प्यार करते हैं वह मस्त, मुस्कुराता, रंग-बिरंगा, अच्छे खाने की खुशबू से महकता, अच्छे संगीत में झूमता, शरारती लेकिन होशियार बच्चों से भरे क्लासरूम वाला भारत है। उस क्लासरूम में जहां हमारी सिखणी मां और हमारे खोजा पापा पहली बार मिले थे! वो होस्टल जहां नवरात्रा के डान्डिया रास के बाद हम सारी रातजागकर पढते थे! क्या करते – सिलेबस ही इतना प्यारा था!

जिस भारत से हम प्यार करते हैं वह ऐसे शिक्षकों का देश है जो तार तार माहवार पर मीलों चलकर बच्चों को वर्णमाला सिखाते हैं, या नौजवानों को खराद मशीन चलाना या होनहार बच्चियों को पहाड़ लांघना.

जिस भारत से हम प्यार करते हैं वह ऐसे शिक्षकों, शिक्षाविदों, लेखकों, कवियों और गायकों का है जिन्होंने अपनी किताबों, गीतों, कहानियों और कविताओं के जरिए भारतीय छात्रों को दुनिया के हर कोने में पहचान दिलाई है. ये पहचान हम खो बैठे तो हमें कोई नहीं पूछेगा!

जिस भारत से हम प्यार करते हैं वह ऐसे बहुत से संस्थानों से भरा है जो छात्रों को देशप्रेम का दावा करना सिखाए बिना, उन्हें बैंकिग, जेनेटिक रिसर्च, फैशन डिज़ाइन, सांख्यिकी में अव्वल बनाते हैं और वह छात्र देश का नाम रौशन करते हैं।

जिस भारत से हम प्यार करते हैं, उसके अभिभावकों और छात्रों को अधिकार है कि वे खुद निर्णय लैं वे क्या सिलेबस सीखना चाहते हैं और कैसे. यदि कोई ऐसा कॉलेज या स्कूल हो जहां वे जा सकें, इसका मतलब है कि हमारी सारी ग़लतियों, तनावों, गरीबी और असमानता के बावजूद हम सही रास्ते पर हैं.

अाज डर ये है कि हम ये अधिकार खो देंगे. भारत के अभिभावकों और छात्रों, मैं आपसे कहता हूँ कि आप अपनी चुप्पी तोड़ें और बोलना शुरू करें। क्योंकि जब अरसे से चुप बैठा कोई बोलता है तो दुनिया सुनती है.

– दिबाकर बैनर्जी

(click on any pic to start the slide show)

(Disclaimer – This is an expression of an individual student and in no way is representation of FTII’s official position)

Dear Mr Chauhan,

I am choosing to address you personally after listening to you respond on several TV news debates about the recent opposition against your appointment as Chairman at FTII. I am a student of FTII and part of the protest.

When we first heard about your appointment we knew little about you except those of us who had grown up on ‘Mahabharata’ the B.R. Chopra serial. We then began to look for more information to get to know your background and work profile. When we did, we saw a huge anomaly in your body of work and the very principles and aesthetic, FTII stands for. We began to smell a rat. Given your political affiliations and given the fact that the ruling party is becoming notorious for making completely irrational and high-handed appointments since it has come to power, it was clear to us you were meant to be a puppet of the Government and chosen despite your capabilities and inspite of your body of work. The protest wasn’t against you personally, coz we never knew you or about you. You, as we saw, are unfit for the job (reasons below) but more important than that this is a strike against the increasing interference of the ruling party to drive their agenda throughout the country without considering the principles of democracies and those of the said institutions. I think, this may satisfy the ‘surprise’ you felt when you heard about the protest before even you joining. This protest was not about you, Mr Chauhan as an individual. This may also satisfy a certain insecurity you may have, going by your own admission of you being a ‘chhota aadmi’, of depriving you of your chance to shine and become ‘big’. (Given your political affiliations I am sure you will receive a much better post, as you again by your admission iterated, that, ‘If you had to use your political power than why FTII, why not a big and more important post?’ I hope you see the contradictions here, Mr Chauhan. First you say give me a chance to progress, then you imply FTII isn’t that important a place to progress with. Strange.)

Now it is comments like these that compel me to write this letter. Because, now that we have heard you speak, we know you better and now that we know you we are dead sure you are wrong for this post. Before I tell you why you are wrong, let me educate you a bit about FTII and what this institution means to cinema as well. On the way you may learn something about cinema too, because as you may not be aware, ‘Khuli Khidki’ isn’t exactly cinema.

What FTII stands for –

  • Freedom of thought – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to think independently to understand the world around us and our own art without any agendas, something I don’t see many institutions that can boast of. We are also taught to respect each other’s opinions as artists. Do you see yourself being able to encourage that?
  • Freedom of speech – We are allowed, encouraged and groomed to express our independent opinions without fear of repercussions, disturbing the status quo or upsetting power equations. This, you may not know, is a very important constitutional right of every citizen of India and the cornerstone of democracy which the ruling party you are associated with is trying to systematically euthanize.
  • Individuality and unbridled self-expression – FTII grooms students as individual artists above their technical domain, constantly keeping in mind that it is the person who creates and not technology. We are pushed to develop and express ourselves through our art for constant evolution irrespective of our specialisations. Having said that, FTII produces the best technical experts the industry has, on a yearly basis too.
  • Justice and fairness in all areas to all sections of society based on the philosophical principles of the Socialist Democracy we are. FTII has always stood for equality and justice for all irrespective of class, creed or gender and this has shown in the films it produces. Cinema, you see, is a wonderful tool of mass communication and if it can be used for propagating ideas of equality and justice, then why not?! These ideas don’t go down very well with your political party unfortunately and that is worrisome for us.
  • Only film institute in India to have a global perspective on cinema as a pure aesthetic medium without any mercenary considerations. It is an art form and it is upheld as one here, without compromises. Cinema here is taught from the lessons and learnings of world greats by people who understand it as an art-form, to students who want to become artists not assembly line film-makers. This requires a certain bent of mind and commitment to cinematic arts. Do you think you have it?
  • The only film institute in India that considers cinema as a vehicle as much of self-expression as much as a mirror to the society we live in. Cinema, for us, cannot be divorced from a personal voice and the socio-political context within which we live. Cinema, for us is about comment and expression not distribution and titillation. Do you understand this distinction?

Now you may say, you will uphold all these principles. Fine, we may consider your earnestness to get your ‘chance’ but what about the fact that one must understand these principles to execute them? Your body of work and now more importantly, your responses, clearly show you don’t. If you still don’t get it, let me tell you why you are wrong for this post –

  • You have no connection whatsoever with FTII to understand this space. You are not an alumnus nor have you worked or associated professionally with students or artists from here. I doubt you have even visited this place ever. You may say you will learn on the job, but Sir we aren’t talking about hiring an intern. YOU are supposed to be guiding US, deciding our future. Without knowing what this place is all about, how will you?
  • You have nothing in your body of work that shows any kind of affiliation to the philosophy or aesthetics of cinema we practice here. If you haven’t studied or practiced then you don’t understand, you see. Then how will you show us the way ahead? How will you approve, disapprove and draft policies, make decisions, appoint people to take our learning forward in the way it should be done?
  • You have nothing else in your body of work to show any kind of inclination to arts and aesthetics, or an intellectual or questioning bent of mind. This especially, is disastrous for both of us. You may not know, but the key ingredient in learning and teaching, especially of arts and aesthetics is a constantly questioning mind.
  • And because of these three points above, your political affiliation troubles us a lot. Because a fourth standard student can see why you are not fit for this post but the Government of India has handed it to you on a platter. Hence, even if you are sincere this very lack of understanding can easily make you a pawn in the hands of the Govt to push their decisions on to the institution. In that case, for your own peace of mind and job security with your bosses I think this could be unhealthy for you. Why would you want a job where you can’t prove your own mettle as you so badly seem to want to do? Please seriously re-consider and withdraw.
  • If we talk of pure heritage, the post of the Chairman has been held by the following – (Please google them if you don’t know of them and you will know more about why you are wrong for this place.)

Adoor Gopalkrishnan – Director, writer and producer, FTII alumnus and 16 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. (The last, you may not know, is the highest honour conferred in the field of cinema.) If awards don’t cut it for you, it doesn’t for some of us either, then maybe the fact that he started the ‘New Cinema’ movement in Kerala that synthesized the mainstream and so-called art cinema for a wider appreciation of cinema as an artform.

Shyam Benegal – Director, writer, faculty at FTII before he became the Chairman twice. 12 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan and the Dadasaheb Phalke Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. His films have been nominated at Cannes, Berlin and Moscow in competition sections. But more importantly he was a huge influence and constituent of the parallel cinema movement in India which changed the shape of cinema forever.

Girish Karnad – Actor, director, writer, playwright, recipient of 9 National Awards, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Sahitya Akademi and Janpeeth Award (highest literary honour of India). He marked the blooming and maturing of Kannada literature in the sixties.

U.R.Ananthamurthy – Novelist, playwright, poet and literary critic, Padma Bhushan, Sahitya Akademi, Jnanpeeth awardee. Finalist of the Man Booker prize. He had no association with cinema and we protested his appointment too despite holding his body of work and the power of his intellect in high regard.

Saeed Mirza – Director, writer, novelist, producer, FTII alumnus, 3 National Awards winner and a very important film-maker whose films gave impetus and shape to the parallel cinema movement of the 70’s.

And now some GK about FTII in the last decade, actually just last two years is enough. I wouldn’t have taken the pain but I read you mention somewhere that Rajkumar Hirani was the last film-maker of reckoning FTII produced. Not so long ago, in 2009, ‘Vihir‘, a terrific Marathi film was chosen at Berlin in the competition section and it was made by an FTII alumnus. Last year, in 2014,‘Killa’, a Marathi film has won the Crystal Bear at Berlin. And you know, the director was a cinematography student here, by the way. He also shot ‘Masaan’ which won two awards at Cannes this year. Yes, two. And to talk mainstream, he has also shot the soon-to-release Ajay Devgan starrer ‘Drishyam’, and this guy is hardly in his early thirties. Another film in competition this year at Cannes was ‘Chauthi Kooth’, made by another FTII alumnus. For God’s sake our diploma films have been selected in competition at Berlin this year, ‘Kamakshi’ being a case in point. Oh by the way, ‘Chitrashala’, another short film selected at Berlin this year is made by Amit Dutta, an FTII alumnus again, and an avant-garde and important film-maker of our times.

(If you can, please note how your reference points are so mainstream that you are not even aware of the wonderful and important work FTII alumni have been doing and which have even made recent headlines.)

I can go on, Sir. But I think I have explained myself in so much detail that you must have got the point. And in case you didn’t, it proves once again why you just aren’t right for this post. Apologies but we can do little about that except protest until you step down.

Thank you

Most Sincerely

An FTII student

NaM0

With the NaMo-mania hitting the roof (see pic, via @psemophile), Bollywood has done something which it has never done before – Taken a political stand. Some 60 film personalities which includes many well-known directors, actors, screenwriters, editors, producers and lyricists have come together to make an appeal to the voters. Though it doesn’t spell out the NaMo-word but it’s quite evident what they are saying. Do read.

APPEAL TO INDIAN VOTERS

Dear Fellow-Indians,

The best thing about our country is its cultural diversity, its pluralism – the co-existence of a number of religions and ethnicities over centuries, and hence the blooming of multiple streams of intellectual and artistic thought. And, this has been possible only because Indian society has prided itself on being essentially secular in character, rejecting communal hatred, embracing tolerance.

Today, that very sense of India is vulnerable. The need of the hour is to protect our country’s secular foundation. Undoubtedly, corruption and governance are important issues, but we will have to vigilantly work out ways of holding our government accountable to that. However, one thing is clear: India’s secular character is not negotiable! Not now, not ever.

As Indian citizens who love our motherland, we appeal to you to vote for the secular party, which is most likely to win in your constituency.

Jai Hind!

 

Yours

Imtiaz Ali (Writer-Director: Highway, Jab We Met)

Vishal Bhardwaj (Writer-Director: Omkara, Maqbool)

Govind Nihalani (Director: Tamas, Ardh Satya)

Saeed Mirza (Director: Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aata Hai)

Zoya Akhtar (Writer-Director: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara)

Anand Patwardhan (Documentary Film-maker: Jai Bhim Comrade)

Vijay Krishna Acharya ‘Victor’ (Director: Dhoom 3)

Kabir Khan (Director: Ek Tha Tiger)

Kundan Shah (Director: Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro)

Nandita Das (Director-Actress: Firaaq, Fire)

Hansal Mehta (Director: Shahid)

Anjum Rajabali (Writer: Raajneeti, Satyagraha)

Akshat Verma (Writer: Delhi Belly)

Shubha Mudgal (Singer-Musician)

Anusha Rizvi (Filmmaker: Peepli Live)

Swara Bhaskar (Actor: Raanjhana, Tanu Weds Manu)

Aditi Rao Hydari (Actor: Murder 3, Rockstar)

Pubali Chaudhuri (Writer: Kai Po Che, Rock On!!)

Mahesh Bhatt (Director-Producer: Saaraansh, Jannat)

Anil Mehta (Cinematographer: Lagaan, Jab Tak Hai Jaan)

Saket Chaudhary (Writer-Director: Shaadi Ke Side Effects)

Rakesh Sharma (Documentary Film-maker: Final Solution)

Vinay Shukla (Writer-Director: Godmother)

Robin Bhatt (Writer: Chennai Express, Krish 3)

Aneesh Pradhan (Tabla Maestro)

Sanjay Chhel (Writer: Rangeela, Yes Boss)

Sameer Anjan (Lyricist: Dhoom 3, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai)

Imteyaz Husain (Writer: Parinda)

Rajesh Dubey (TV Writer: Balika Vadhu)

Vinod Ranganath (TV Writer: Shanti, Swaabhiman)

Jalees Sherwani (Lyricist: Dabang)

Danish Javed (Lyricist and Poet)

Amitabh Shukla (Film Editor: Chak De India)

Sukant Panigrahi (Art Director)

Surabhi Sharma (Documentary Film-maker)

Anusha Khan (Producer)

Bishwadeep Chatterjee (Sound Designer: 3 Idiots)

C.K. Muraleedharan (Cinematographer: 3 Idiots)

Dr. Manasee Palshikar (Screenwriter-Teacher)

Jyoti Dogra (Actor)

Joy Sengupta (Actor)

Kauser Munir (Lyricist: Dhoom 3)

Mazahir Rahim (Screenwriter)

Nishant Radhakrishnan (Film Editor: Satyamev Jayate)

Preety Ali (Producer)

Priyanka Borpujari (Screenwriter)

Rajashree (Writer-Filmmaker)

Manjushree Abhinav (Novelist-Filmmaker)

Prayas Abhinav (Artist-Teacher)

Ruchika Oberoi (Film-maker)

Rukmini Sen (Screenwriter and TV Journalist)

Sameera Iyengar (Theatre activist)

Sharad Tripathi (Screenwriter)

Shivani Tibrewala Chand (Playwright)

Simantini Dhuru (Filmmaker-Activist)

Sona Jain (Film-maker)

Tushar Gandhi (Activist)

Teesta Setalvaad (Activist)

Javed Anand (Activist)

Shubha Shetty is a journalist and a writer who says she is still in the process of learning the art of diplomacy. Blurting out what she feels strongly about, and then repenting at leisure is how she kills her free time. Over to her now – An open letter to Anurag Kashyap.

I like people like Anurag Kashyap. This guy comes from nowhere and in spite of adverse conditions and zero support, with the sheer dint of an enviable amount of confidence and conviction, cocks a snook at the largely untalented and hence averse to risk film-makers. He does what he wants to. Without any compromise. Who doesn’t love an immensely talented underdog?

A decade later, his talent still shines bright. Watch Gangs of Wasseypur part I and you will need no further proof. And admirably he continues to use the power he has gathered over the years, in supporting other deserving film-makers.

But unfortunately, the very power has changed the man in a not so nice manner too. In recent times we have been witness to an unbridled bully, hidden inside this otherwise grounded man, rearing its ugly head once in a while This bully also attempts to cock a snook at his critics, but with not the same amount of confidence, also this one seems to operate more from ego than earnestness.

It is this bully who tells entertainment journalists that they shouldn’t care to criticise him because he has stopped reading entertainment supplements long back, but then we see him paying (?) and posing for an entertainment supplement of a leading newspaper.

I am more disheartened that this bully seems to be forcing entry into his films too. While Gangs of Wasseypur part II is excellent in parts as expected, you see unmissable traces of cockiness of the director in the form of self-indulgent long sequences and unexplained trail of characters.

To me, Kashyap now seems like this super brilliant boy from small town, an outsider, wasting his energy trying silly antics to just prove a point to a posh but mediocre group of city bred teenagers in college. I am concerned, like perhaps an old friend of that boy would be. After all, the friend knows that this boy can do wonders, only if he just stayed true to the genius that he’s blessed with.

But now that’s my opinion.

You decide which path you want to take, Mr. Kashyap. Do you want to be that all powerful, all successful film-maker who thinks he can sway people’s opinion by pushing his way through, with little help from his newly acquired sycophantic coterie or you want to continue being the awe inspiring film maker that you were, without wasting even an ounce of energy over thinking how powerful your craft and talent makes you.

You are already a successful and admirable man. It is time you stopped proving points to anyone. In the meanwhile, as much as I despise that bully inside you, I am still holding on to that faith I have on you. I am sure millions of others are too.

Ram Gopal Varma’s Department released last friday and as expected, had a disastrous opening at the box office. Well, that’s not new. He wrote an open letter to clarify his stand. That’s also not new. And then started blaming Sanjay Dutt and Dharm Oberoi for the debacle. Now, that’s a smart pitch for the potential producers.

I strongly believe that what Amitabh Bachchan is for directors, Ramu is for producers. Everyone aspires to direct AB in at least one film and every producer wants to make at least one film with Ramu. Just for good old nostalgia. But most don’t realise or are blind to the fact that both don’t have any box office pull now. What else can be the explanation for still giving shitloads of money to RGV? What kind of blind faith is this? Even if you forget box office, in terms of intangible gain also, it gets you nothing. Not even a single decent review. Or may be, he knows some kind of black magic to woo the producers. That’s the only talent he still has.

It’s hard to digest that someone will give him 27 fucking crore (via HT Cafe) for getting AB, Sanjay Dutt and Rana Daggubatti. And opening weekend collection is just 7.25crore – the lowest opener of 2012. And please don’t even to call it an indulgence – crotch cam is just being stupid and banal. That doesn’t qualify as cinematic indulgence by any rulebook.

Interestingly, Ishaqzaade – a film with newcomers managed almost the same amount in its 2nd weekend which Department collected in its opening weekend.

Going back to HT Cafe again, here are the opening weekend figures of Ramu’s last few releases –

Not A Love Story – Rs 2.1 Crore

Rakht Charitra 2 – Rs 1.25 Crore

Rakht Charitra – Rs 3.85 Crore

Rann – Rs 4.45 Crore

The list is quite long. To say that the man has lost it, will be putting it very mildly. And i can bet that the man is going to deliver ten more duds. Reason – he thinks he is making cult classics (read the open letter). He is dismissive of everything good or bad – it just happens by chance. And he is surrounded by yes-men. There was a time when he used to attract the best talent. Now it’s the opposite – anyone who is good, leaves him.

And here’s the bait for potential dumbfcks who will put money in his next films – his open letter which he tweeted yesterday.

I LOVE YOU TOO

I am not surprised at the hatred of some towards “Department” for the reason that when you do anything completely different from a beaten path many tend to pounce upon you with claws and knives. When Oliver Stone made “Natural Born Killers” most reviewers said it’s a piece of visual crap, exhibitionistic, he lost his head etc., which then in the later years came to be recognized as a cult classic. When DW Griffith cut to a close up they said how can a man be shown cut in half and when the camera moved in a Georges Melies film they said how can a point of view suddenly move.

Anyways the norm of critics these days is to bury the baby even before its born and kill the mother for giving it birth. It’s incredible to see the sadistic glee they take in running the Director down on a personal level even more than they run down the Film.

They accuse me of chaotic self-indulgence. I don’t know what that is but a Film eventually is a self expression of a subject matter which I as a maker chose to tell in a certain style and in Department I chose a graphic pattern in terms of angles and movements which were intended to represent the mindsets of the characters the film is dealing with.

A photographic image is a combination of the look of the location, the lightning, the costume, the make-up, the look of the actor etc. and any camera will only record whatever is kept in front of it. Then ofcourse there are the features of lensing, angles, movement perspectives etc., which would be employed as per the intended effect. In Department it’s the rapid swish pans and some hitherto unseen movement perspectives, which bothered some people, but the same were also liked by lots of others.

Also the rogue method I employed for Department is an alternative method I proposed but not as a replacement to a conventional method. The conventional usage of the cameras used for Department have been already used in “Slumdog Millionaire”, “127 Hours” and many other films the world over. In Department it’s their unconventional rapid movements, which created problem for some.

In “Department” I just attempted to do a realistic story with characters that intrigue and make one think rather than spoon feed and I attempted to package that in a never before seen visual style and some people got it and some didn’t.

It goes without saying that at the end of the day a Film’s likeability is about its content and its narrative grip and the technical style employed doesn’t matter to the viewer.

But having said that a constantly evolving innovative usage of the medium does add and sometimes also gives an emotional tone to the content and film eventually in its purest form is an emotional experience.

– Ram Gopal Varma

It seems like Subhash K Jha has converted this open letter into Q and A for Rediff. Click here.

And if that wasn’t enough, he has now put the blame on Sanjay Dutt and his manager Dharam Oberoi. You can check Ramu’s twitter timeline here or the snapshots here.

Wow! Some points for being candid at least.

Well, over to Dutt and Oberoi now.

Ram Gopal Varma doesn’t surprise and shock me anymore. He is the only filmmaker whose zero budget film was also a flop! You can’t beat that!

What baffles me is the fact there are “morons with money” who wants to blow it away by giving it to him. And at a time when films like Paan Singh Tomar, Kahaani, Vicky Donor are re-writing the rules of the box office. If you have excess, just donate it. And if you don’t have a big heart, just burn them – That’s a better thing to do.

UPDATE (22nd May) – Sanjay Dutt and Dharam Oberoi have reacted to Ramu’s tweets. Click here to read Mirror’s report.

23rd May – Ramu drags Abhishek Bachchan into it and blames him for getting Dutt into the film. Click here to read.

Sir,

I am Pawan Kumar, the director of the Kannada film Lifeu Ishtene. On the 30th of August, you watched my film and you passed your views about it, and gave us a U/A certificate with a forced ‘voluntary’ cut. I’d like to bring it to your notice that if I had the luxury to fight for my right I’d not have accepted to cut what you insisted.

I am a first time director in a industry which is struggling to survive. Fighting for the cut meant you forwarding our film for further reviewing and that would take couple of weeks more, that would put a lot people involved in making of this movie in a very difficult position. Hence for their sake I simply shut up and bowed to your very tyrant behaviour. This letter is simply me putting out my thoughts, I am not challenging your decision through this. I want the people to know the truth, so that they can decide who was right and who was wrong. Am hoping that you will read this till the end and be convinced that you erred, that’s all I want, I don’t want you to change the decision or apologize, the damage you wanted to do is already done. The letter might seem long but I made it as entertaining as my film was, you will have a good laugh by the end of it.

This being an open letter, I guess the public should know what I am talking about. Here is a picture of the document that Mr. Nagaraj wrote down after seeing the film. He has listed his thoughts point wise, but before I dwell into those, I’d like to mention that I respect the man and his position. He is an IAS officer and I am sure it is pretty tough to be on the chair where he sits, I cant get there for my IQ levels. I like the man for the way he appears, he comes across as a through gentleman and has an aura of being smart, composed and intelligent. I was really hurt and shocked when he listed out his objections for my film. Something that I really didn’t foresee, especially by this person, whom I had met during the censoring of Manasaare and Pancharangi. I did and I still have high regards for him.

Mr. Nagaraj in the above document states “Remove the word sucker from the tag line of the movie, wherever visible in, Move on Sucker”. For those who don’t know, ‘Move on Sucker’ is the tagline of my movie title. Mr. Nagaraj had a problem with the word sucker. He simply said that I must remove that word. I tried arguing with him that it is not a bad word, that it is simply a slang term for someone considered gullible enough to fall for a very obvious prank or con and go about unaware of it. We all know what the word sucker is, we all have used it in phrases like ‘I am sucker for Chinese food’ or ‘I suck in maths’ or ‘the movie sucks’ etc etc. But he just didn’t want to listen to me. He said that he is not interested in the parliamentary meaning of a word, he is interested in how the word could be perceived by the masses and therefore I should cut it out from the film. There was no point arguing further because he was a man sitting there controlling the future of my film and I could see it in his eyes that he just didn’t want to understand even if I tried to explain. I said “ok I will remove it”. The word comes 3 times on the screen in the film, to remove that the producer has shelled out 45k till now. 45k is not a small amount, with that money I could have put an Ad in the papers and promoted the film more, get more people to watch the film and try to save our sinking industry, or I could have simply paid it to someone in the team who has been working day and night to offer something new to the people, but instead we had to waste it on a stubborn man with a lot of power. Look at the visual below, tell me how is removing of that word changed anything?

If sucker is such a bad influence on the society, what about the words ‘BoseDK’, ‘Ass Hole’, ‘Fucker’, ‘BlowJob’, all these words were featured in Delhi Belly. The same CBFC (Central Board Of Film Certification) passed it and the movie made pot loads of money!! I am not someone who encourages those words. I am a very clean guy, I don’t speak or promote bad language, you wont find it in my movie too. Before coming up with the tag ‘Move on sucker’ I did look through the internet to make sure the word Sucker didn’t mean anything wrong. Its only after I gathered enough information that I put it up. We are a small industry and we have very small budgets to make films. We are pitted against movies from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English; all these industries have huge budgets to take the audience away from us. If we have to get them to watch our movies we need to sound contemporary, talk to them in a language they understand. A line like ‘move on sucker’ would make the people in their 20’s connect to the movie, and they’d make an effort to watch it. Why is it that when Aamir Khan does it, its alright? He did way too much and it was still alright!!! By asking me to remove the word ‘sucker’ from my movie tagline, the Censor Board has been impartial to me. Mr. Nagaraj is aware of the financial state of the Kannada industry. He very well knows how much we are struggling to make people trust us. And he has seen my movie and he also said ‘your movie is 99% qualified for U certificate but sprinkled with some objectionable matter’. The word sucker was one of them. And the word was not simply a publicity gimmick, after you watch the movie you’d understand how that word makes sense in the movie. The guidelines by the censor board of India states – A film is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact and is examined in the light of the period depicted in the film and the contemporary standards of the country and the people to whom the film relates, provided that the film does not deprave the morality of the audience. Guidelines are applied to the titles of the films also.

People, please tell me and Mr Nagraj, if the word ‘sucker’ has in anyway depraved the morality of you all. What censor board needs is a sense of humour. It needs to grow up and wake up to the people who live around them and not in their guidelines. Television today has become horrible, it is impossible to see and hear many of the things that is aired on many news and entertainment channels. Something that you can probably watch with your family is Discovery channel and sports channels, not even the sanskar or astha who are using the dangerous weapon against the society, the religion . But the censor board is all quite about it. Television has no censor, it doesn’t come under their jurisdiction.

Mr. Nagaraj, we are all suckers, you are one, I am one too. And the people know that. They know that they are one too. And that’s the funny thing about it. When we accept our flaws and imperfections and laugh about it, we can put our egos behind and try to progress. That’s what my movie on the whole was trying to say. For some reason you didn’t see it beyond the word ‘Sucker’ without even knowing the meaning of it.

Now coming to the other angle to the whole issue, which I hope is not true but is very possible. I think it is the ego. I very strongly feel that it is the ego of Mr. Nagaraj that makes him do what he does. He sitting in his little cabin in the govt building, enjoys seeing us film makers dance to his tunes. I am sure it must be giving him a kick that he can in 2 hours 30 mins control a film makers 10 months of hard work by just using one word. He knows how difficult it is technically to remove those words from a completed film and that’s why he does that. For people who are not aware it might seem very simple, you must be thinking how difficult it is to just delete a word. If I get into the process I can do a 6 hour workshop and probably you’d learn most of the technical aspects of film making. In simple words, it took many people and many days of work in Banaglore and Chennai to erase that word. I hope all this makes Mr. Nagaraj very satisfied and gives him a good night’s sleep. This is the story of how the word Sucker got separated from the film Lifeu Ishtene.

Now, let me introduce you to some more blunders. But I could live with these because frankly I don’t give a damn whether my movie is U or U/A, and thankfully neither people are interested in those ratings anymore. Like I said the Censor board is so stuck up with their guidelines that they don’t see how people are today. My movie got a U/A because of a scene which is got something to do with condom. The government is trying really hard to reach out to people, they even come up with jingles, in kannada there is an ad – maatadidavane mahaashoora. But Mr. Nagaraj feels that it is very uncomfortable for adults to see such content with children. That’s precisely the point sir, that’s what government is trying to say ‘don’t be shy about it, talk openly and spread awareness’. Teenagers should get aware of it, they should be bold enough to talk about a condom and not make a taboo of it. But instead Mr Nagaraj goes to the extent of writing – delete comedy episode surrounding condom for a U certificate. But I didn’t agree with him, I agreed for a U/A instead and the scene is intact. In a week you will see it and you will know that it is not in bad taste and is for sure spreading awareness.

The second one is debatable, Mr Nagaraj has pointed out a shot where a woman is smoking. His justification was that it is not right to show women smoking and therefore he writes – also delete the visual of lady smoking. I am not going to defend this much. I don’t smoke and I am for anti smoking. I had even made a short film on the anti smoking subject.

In Lifeu Ishtene, the character which the lady was playing was of the types who would smoke and therefore I hade to make her light up. Deleting this shot would not change the reality though, we see so many women smoking these days, and it is really bad. Smoking is bad for both men and women, and I sincerely hope that smoking comes to an end. And in no way is my film promoting or glamorising smoking. The Censor guideline says – scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamorise consumption of tobacco or smoking are not shown. To show the bad result of a habit, the story needs to build up and then show the effect. That’s what my shot of the lady smoking was doing. No problem here, I will gladly take a U/A for this point.

The third is silly actually. In the third point Mr. Nagaraj says – delete lip to lip kissing in the song. Well not much defending here, for some reason we Indians want to think that showing love on screen is more dangerous than showing violence. On a funny note may be the government has a strategy behind this, Lets not teach people to express love, there by reducing population and lets show more violence so that they could kill each other and again reduce population!!!! Am I the only one laughing at this stupid joke??? Ok Mr. Nagaraj I will accept a U/A for this too. I am sure the 15frames (less than a second) of lip to lip pecking in the mayavi mayavi song would make the adults very uncomfortable to watch it with children under the age of 18 years old. However I have one question for you – How did you pass the song ‘Padmavathi’ from the movie ‘Johny Mera Naam’ with a U certificate? That one really shocks me. Because though I am an adult and my father is an adult too, we both would be uncomfortable watching it together in theatre or on TV. Please ask yourself if the very aesthetically shot 15 frames of a small peck on the lip in my movie was worse than what you can see in a 4 min song. Here is the link to that song if you want watch it again and wonder why you gave it a ‘U’.

Your guidelines clearly states the following – human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity; scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented. Isn’t this song violating all of this?????

People please note that from what I can read of Mr. Nagaraj, he is a very good person, I am not being sarcastic, I might be against his decisions but I don’t hate him. Please don’t think that he was expecting a bribe or anything like that. I can for sure say that he is NOT a corrupt govt servant. He is doing his job but he has to simply get some of the realities in the right perspective. Lets help him know what he is not aware of so that he stays with us as the regional head of Karnataka for CBFC, and make right decisions and help us all save good kannada films. If you believe in this article and you want to support me, then please mail Mr. Nagaraj your views in a few words and a few words only, lets not waste his time. I hope you will not send abuses because I am not in support for that. Mail him on robanglore@cbfcindia.gov.in or nagarajk1@yahoo.com and cc a copy to me on actorinme(at)gmail(dot)com . I guess the subject line of the mail should be with a sense of humor, keep it as – Lets grow up, suckers! 😉

(Note: I still haven’t received the final Censor Certificate from Mr. Nagaraj, he is going to give it to us after he checks the film and finds no ‘sucker’ in it. We have followed his instruction and removed it and showing the corrected film copy on monday. I could have waited till monday to get the certificate and then put this article up. But I didn’t want to be a chicken in expressing my views. I hope Mr. Nagaraj will stand up to his gentleman image and not take this article to his ego and create problems to the release of the film on the scheduled date. He is in a position to completely reject this article but he is not in a position to take this personally to take revenge.)

( PS – This letter was first posted here)