Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bollywood film director Hansal Mehta expresses "serious concern" over RSS' communal, divisive agenda

By Our Representative
Well-known film director Hansal Mehta has expressed serious concerns over the overt activities and statements of the RSS and allied organizations, after the recent BJP victory in the general elections of 2014. He has stated that "communal and divisive agenda of the century old rightist organization RSS is now open and public." In an interview, which is part of a series of audio-visual interviews to be released soon, Mehta has sought to compare the way the Government of India is acting with the Emergency days (1975-77), imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Available for viewing on the internet on the joint You Tube video channel by “Communalism Combat” and www.hillele.org, the interview shows Mehta saying, "Even during and after Emergency, it was impossible or difficult to make serious and honest films over the period of emergency or about Indira Gandhi.” However, he expresses surprise over the new situation, especially the fact that now it is “easier (to make critical films) in the neighbouring Pakistan."
“Communalism Combat” is a periodical run by well-known human rights activist Teesta Setalvad who is the interviewer. Mehta is director of films “Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar” (a story of migrants) and “Shahid” (on minority rights), which are “forthright in their assessment of the present scenario, while talking about the threat of hate-driven divisive politics”, Setalvad says. 
Mehta won the National Film Award as best director for Shahid (2014), which marked shift in priorities of the government at the centre. This, according to Setalvad, was one major reason that “Shahid” was unceremoniously replaced from being the inaugural film of the National Film Festival in May 2014, soon after election results, due to the crucial issues it raises.
“A fear of challenging the ideology of the ruling dispensation governs this mood of self-censorship”, says Mehta, who emphasizes, “There have been such threats before, even during moments of our own authoritarian past.”
Talking about Hindi cinema, past and present, Mehta says that in his assessment the Bollywood films in the 1950s were more serious and sensitive towards society, raising several questions, tackling even the gender question. “After the angry young man of the 1970s it was tokenism that replaced a more thematic understanding of issues", he underlined.
In the interview, Setalvad said, Mehta talked “cheerfully about his hobby, specifically about his first venture into television with a highly popular food show”. She adds, “A lover of good cuisine and passionate about its creation, Hansal Mehta is today learning the nuances of Awadhi Cuisine. It was Hansal, who produced the famous Sanjiv Kapur’s show Khana Khazana.”
Setalvad adds, “Dedicated to creating more films like ‘Shahid’, that turns the mirror of society within, Mehta spoke about creating a sex comedy with the same brutal dedication. This interview of Hansal Mehta is the first of the series of interviews by Communalism Combat and www.hillele.org. The series will include interactions with actors, film makers, artists, academics, writers-poets, activists, politicians and musicians, all of which would be launched on their You Tube Channel Hillele TV (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3G7YYiSQ65t2AilCtw-anw).”
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Click Hansal Mehta’s interview, please click  http://youtu.be/1HKbUh-g5Gk

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