I Asked Will My Script be Censored Before I Speak: Amol Palekar
Veteran actor-director Amol Palekar has expressed his dismay at the constant interruptions and alleged censorship he faced during his speech at an exhibition at Mumbai’s National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) on Friday, 8 February. Addressing a press conference he said,
“The Director was present there & she said that I should have spoken to her before speaking this here. I replied whether my script would be censored before I speak? I even told them that I wanted to thank Ministry of Culture for the magnanimity of culture for showing this exhibition. She said she doesn’t want any backhanded compliment like this & left.”
Earlier, Palekar spoke to The Indian Express on the issue and said,
“I was in a dilemma before, about whether I should speak up about the issues I raised, but I realised that I could not remain silent. So many artists were aware of these changes in policy and there were murmurs all around, and I couldn’t stay silent on the occasion, particularly because this exhibition is the last one to be decided by the advisory committee.”Amol Palekar, Actor-Director
Palekar was speaking at ‘Inside the Empty Box’, an exhibition in honour of artist Prabhakar Barwe. During his speech, he criticised the Ministry of Culture for reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at the gallery's centres in Mumbai and Bengaluru.
With reference to the news, he said, “Many of you may not know that this retrospective will be the last show decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or an agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline.”
This was met with interruptions from members present, including artist and former chairman of the advisory committee in Mumbai, Suhas Bahulkar, and show curator Jesal Thacker, who urged him to keep his discussion to the artist and the exhibition, which Palekar suggested was a form of censorship.
In a statement to The Indian Express, Thacker attempted to clear the air and maintained that he had no objection to Palekar’s views but that the exhibition was not the appropriate time or place to air them.
“As much as I admire both Barwe and Amol, my intention was not to prevent Amol from finishing his speech, but instead only requested him to share more about his anecdotes and fond memories of the artist, who was being celebrated 24 years after his demise. Prabhakar Barwe himself was an idealist painter whose practice was subliminal and my effort all these years has been only to research and represent the purity of the artist. It was Barwe’s conscious effort, that I as a curator and organiser, tried to retain and respect. Views that are not directly related to the subject of the evening — the art and life of Barwe — can always be expressed at another more suitable time and space, directly addressing the issues raised.”Jesal Thacker, Curator