Over 100 filmmakers - most of them makers of independent films (feature) and documentaries - in a joint statement on Friday have made an appeal to the public to vote the current BJP government out of power in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Coming together under a common umbrella called ‘Save the democracy’, the filmmakers have urged the public to choose a government that respects the Constitution of India, protects freedom of speech and expression, and refrains from all kinds of censorship.
The list of filmmakers who have signed the appeal includes Malayalam director Aashiq Abu who is currently making a mainstream movie on the Nipah virus, Vetrimaaran who recently directed Dhanush movie Vada Chennai, Kaala director Pa Ranjith, S Durga fame Sanal Sasidharan, IFFK Artistic Director and editor Bina Paul, directors Leena Manimekalai and Madhupal (Oru Kuprasiddha Payyan). Anand Patwardhan, Sudevan, Q, Deepa Dhanraj, Gurvinder Singh, Pushpendra Singh, Anjali Monteiro and Praveen Morchhale are also among the other well-known filmmakers who have voiced their concern.
The statement was put up early on Friday on the website www.artistuniteindia.com
Calling the government a grave threat to the secular fabric of the country, the signatories, say that the country’s cultural and geographical unity is now at stake.
“Fascism threatens to strike us hard with all its might if we don't choose wisely in the coming Lok Sabha election,” the statement reads.
The reasons to keep the government out of power, according to the statement, are many - a country polarised along religious lines, marginalising Dalits and Muslims, mob-lynching, hate campaigns, romanticising the armed forces- the film makers have called it our last chance to keep the harmful regime returning to power.
Calling patriotism the BJP’s trump card, the statement further reads, “Any individual or institution that raises the slightest dissent is labelled ‘anti-national.’ ‘Patriotism’ is how they grow their vote bank.
The appeal also strongly despises the curb on the artistic and creative freedom in the country and has called censorship ‘the BJP’s way of keeping the population away from the truth.’
“Let us not forget that some of our eminent writers and media persons lost their lives because they dared to dissent,” the statement reads.
The appeal also strikes hard on the economic blunders by the BJP government and says the government has made the country ‘the boardroom property of a few businessmen’. The signatories have also appealed for the well-being of the farmers, who, as the statement reads, have been completely forgotten by the present regime.
The 100+ film makers, on their Facebook page ‘Artist Unite India’ have said that the statement was arrived after a thorough discussion using a WhatsApp group named ‘Film Fraternity for Democracy’.
Citing the thought process behind such an unusual appeal, film maker Devashish makhija further said on the social media page, “Many will argue that other governments have violated as many rights of citizens as this one. But the truth is too glaring to ignore - this current government has shown utter disregard for the constitution of India…This government has behaved more like an autocracy than a democracy. And it's time we collectively ensure we as a nation are not taken for granted anymore.”
On the contrary, it was only in January that eminent film personalities from Bollywood including Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Ranbir Kapoor and Karan Johar met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi. The meeting was called by the PM in an attempt to understand how the young stars though their films were impacting the ‘Indian culture’.