This has hurt me, says Amol Palekar on being interrupted after criticising government

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This has hurt me, says Amol Palekar on being interrupted after criticising government

Actor Amol Palekar held a press conference in Pune after the incident at National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai. At the NGMA, Amol Palekar was interrupted during his speech after he expressed concern about recent decisions taken by the Ministry of Culture.

Actor Amol Palekar said that he was hurt after getting interrupted during his speech at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). He was speaking at a press conference he organised after the incident.

At NGMA (Mumbai), Amol Palekar was interrupted repeatedly as he tried expressing displeasure about a decision taken by a government body. Palekar was speaking at the opening ceremony of an exhibition "Inside The Empty Box" which was organised in memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe. National Gallery of Modern Art is run by the government. Palekar was speakling at the gallery on Friday.

Palekar's apparent criticism was about Ministry of Culture reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at its centres in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

"In 2017, we were happy to hear about the plan to open new NGMA branches in Kolkata and in the North East. News of the expansion of this Mumbai venue was also heartening. However on 13 November 2018, another disastrous decision was apparently taken," Palekar can be heard saying in the video of the programme.

At this point, he was interrupted by curator Jesal Thacker who told him to speak about artist Prabhakar Barwe as the event was about his works. Palekar then asked her whether she asked him not to speak.

During his press conference, Palekar said that he was merely talking about changed rules of the NGMA and that there was nothing objectionable in what he said during the speech.

He further said that if the NGMA wanted him to talk only about the inauguration ceremony, then he should have been notified beforehand. He said he skipped portions of his speech after he was interrupted.

Amol Palekar's wife Sandhya Gokhale was present during the press conference. Both of them said that the incident brings out and underlines the intolerance and suppression of freedom of expression prevalent in our country.

Sandhya Gokhale said that curator Jesal Thacker seemed to have been under pressure due to which she interrupted Amol Palekar's speech repeatedly.

"It is not important which party is in power, the establishment has restrained freedom of speech for years," said Gokhale.

During his speech in NGMA, Amol Palekar also spoke about the recent incident with author Nayantara Sahgal.

In another video of the same event at NGMA, a lady speaker is seen criticising Palekar for his critical remarks.

"....he did raise all our concerns, but despite that you should appreciate that National Gallery of Modern Art is a government gallery, sir," she said.

(With inputs from Mustafa Shaikh)