Here is our Response to Anand Patwardhan ‘s article “Why I am returning my national film award” published in Scroll.in
Anand Patwardhan: National awards have always meant a lot to me. They were more precious than International awards and awards from private institutions precisely they represented those rare moments when the government of India became willing to uphold the spirit of our secular, socialist and democratic Constitution.
Response: You have started the entire outburst on a farcical note. People guard things close to their hearts like a hawk, they let no evil sights touch the people and objects precious to them. The way you have defined the national awards, it seems to the uninitiated that it is very precious to you and people of your award returning tribe. But your act of throwing “your precious” away itself is a tell-tale to the fact that it never was your precious. Also, by not willing to cooperate with the democratically elected government of this democratic nation, you are not willing to uphold the spirit of our secular, socialist and democratic Constitution yourself.
Anand Patwardhan: Today this spirit is evaporating. Our nation is at a crossroads. On one side is the secular path that our freedom fighters laid out for us and on the other, the path towards majoritarian fascism that the present regime seems bent upon. I am not saying we are already a fascist state. I am saying that the early warning signs are unmistakable.
Response: Give the poor “Today” a little break. It was never about Today for you Mr. Patwardhan. You were never comfortable with the idea of Modi becoming the PM of India. Not today, not yesterday, not a year back or a couple of years back.
Didn’t you say this in 2014?
“It is depressing. The fact that Modi is getting support from corporate India confirms that his dictatorial style of governance is seen as conducive to big business. Hitler and Mussolini also got full support from the business moguls of their time” – Link
Or this in 2013?
Or just before the 2014 General Elections, Didn’t you write an open letter to the voters of India along with your secular brethren and concluded with the statement:
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. – Link
You are a Modi hater Mr. Patwardhan, a rabid Modi hater. What’s the big deal in confessing it? Why do you choose to hide under the layers of heavy ideological jargons?
Anand Patwardhan: It is the duty of all thinking citizens to speak out before it becomes too late. Filmmakers are thinking citizens who cannot look away. When the government attempted to foist unqualified saffron administrators on the FTII, students there went on strike. The strike has lasted an unprecedented four months. In this period people from all walks of life began to wake up to the unmistakable reality that the India they knew was on a dangerous new path. The killing of rationalists, the hounding of whistleblowers like Teesta Setalvad and Sanjiv Bhatt, the denial of justice to victims of religious pogroms and caste based massacres, the emboldening of the religio-lunatic fringe and the impunity of those who kill or advocate killing in the name of religion is accompanied by the wholesale rewriting of history, the denial of scientific enquiry and the consequent production of a generation of dumbed down consumers for whom having an enemy to hate replaces their thirst for knowledge.
Response: Okay Gajendra Chauhan is an unqualified Saffron administrator? But what about Dilip Kumar? Was Yusuf Khan a Sanghi? Dilip Kumar was the chief guest in FTII Convocation in December 1997. Student protests led to convocations being scrapped altogether. What about Mahesh Bhatt? Mohan Agashe? Weren’t they forced to resign by the students? Were they all Unqualified Saffron Administrators? So the big question is aren’t the FTII Students an agitating lot and that IS because of the leftist teaching they receive at the institution and the lessons that glorify protests and dharnas and bandhs.
And when did Teesta Setalvad become a whistle blower? Didn’t she siphon money off from riot stricken people and spent it like a teenage girl on a shopping spree? Okay may be she didn’t, but let CBI do their job. They are bloody good at it. And Sanjeev Bhatt – The disgrace to Police Department who stayed mum for a decade and then suddenly started spewing venom against Modi on the behest of Congress and Teesta Setalwad? Did you miss the court verdict, sir? Sanjeev Bhatt will probably be tried for perjury and fabrication. And why not?
Anand Patwardhan: So it is with a heavy heart I am returning my very first National award for Bombay Our City. Back in 1985 even as we won this award the homes of people I had filmed were demolished. I did not go to receive the award. Instead Vimal Dinkar Hedau whose home in Bandra had just been demolished went to Delhi to receive this award and distributed leaflets about the cause of the homeless. The prize money went to the slumdwellers movement. Today I am returning the medal. What do we want from this government? Not much. Just its resignation. Will that happen any time soon? Not likely. What do we want from the people of India? Not much. Just eternal vigilance.
Response: You have a flair for balanced writing. The ending of your article is as absurd as its start. Your heart is not heavy and you do not respect the accolades that the Government of India has conferred upon you. And do you really think Modi Government is stupid enough to resign because some petty opportunists like you have a problem with their style of functioning and ideology? I can only laugh at this ridiculous proposition. But I respect the last line for your emotional outburst because this is the only line in your write-up that makes sense. People of India certainly need to wake up and be vigilant so that politically motivated people like you are identified easily and discarded like a piece of filth.