These days not a day goes by without some controversy or the other happening in Bollywood. Recently, some film personalities have been returning their National Awards to stand in solidarity with Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students who held a 139 day strike (ended Wednesday) against the appointment of actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as the new chairman of FTII. Bollywood star Vidya Balan, who had won a National Award for her performance in The Dirty Picture (2012), however, has chosen not to get involved in this political struggle. Vidya stated that she will not give back her national award as it was an honor that was bestowed on her by her country and not the government.
Vidya said at the “India Today” Conclave, “This honor (the award) is by the nation and not the government. So I do not want to return it.” Furthermore, she stated that working towards social causes should be an individual decision and no one should be compelled to do so.
Although the students have ended their strike, they are still working to have Chauhan removed. In support of the students, 10 film personalities, issued a joint statement (see end of article for the full text) to voice their support and also returned their awards. They claimed this decision was taken as the government seemed apathetic about the issues the FTII students had raised.
As for Vidya Balan, she is busy preparing for her upcoming Marathi film, Ek Albela, a biopic on actor-director Bhagwan Dada, where she will essay the role of one of golden era’s actresses – Geeta Bali. The film will release next year in January, and we will be sure to bring you all the latest.
In case you have not seen the statement by the filmmakers, it is reproduced below:
Government of India must urgently reveal its commitment to protect the freedom of expression of each citizen.
We, the undersigned, stand alongside the writers who have returned the country’s highest literary honour, and hereby return our National Awards.
As filmmakers, we stand firmly with the students of FTII and are determined not to let them shoulder the entire burden of the protests. They have mounted a historic struggle and we urge others within our fraternity to come forward and carry this protest forward.
Dibakar Banejee [Khosla Ka Ghosla (2007); Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye (2009)]
Anand Patwardhan [Bombay Our City (1984)]
Paresh Kamdar [Rasyatra (1995)]
Nishtha Jain [Gulaabi Gang (2014)]
Kirti Nakhwa [Lost & Found (2008)]
Harshavardhan Kulkarni [Lost & Found (2008)]
Hari Nair [Sham’s Vision (1997)]
Rakesh Sharma [Final Solution (2006)]
Indraneel Lahiri [Aamar Katha, Story of Binodhini (2014)]
Lipika Singh Darai [Gaarud (2009); Eka Gachha Eka Mainsha Eka Samudra (a tree a man a sea) (2012); Kankee O Saapo (dragonfly and snake) (2013)]