The arrival of the Lok Sabha elections has brought to the fore differences of opinion among artistes of various political hues.
While the Election Commission banned the release of the Modi biopic, PM Narendra Modi, just a day before the Lok Sabha election — along with issuing notices to the makers of television series for poll code violation — filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Reason, which seeks to display the impact of right-wing politics, is racking up views online.
Also, while more than 700 theatre artists, writers, filmmakers and scientists signed appeals urging people to reject ‘hate politics’, over 900 artistes and writers have issued a statement urging the people to vote for the Bharatiya Janata Party on the day of the election.
While EC crack downs on TV series and films, Anand Patwardhan’s documentary chronicling the negative impact of right-wing politics in last five years surfaces on YouTube.
“I want the people to see it and get influenced. I hope people watch it especially in the county where the entire media is controlled by the Hindutva right-wing. The spaces available to people like me are very few and far between,” says Anand. Reason, which is out in parts, has chapters about murders of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar and Communist leader Govind Pansare, the Dadri lynching and the impact of the Sanatan Sanstha among others.
“The attempt with this film is for people to know what is going on in the country,” adds Patwardhan, a signatory of the appeal against hate politics.
For filmmaker Riju Bajaj, among the 900 signatories in favour of PM Modi, his support is just a response to the anti-Modi statement. “There will always be a difference of opinion. And the reason I have signed to support Modi is that I don’t see any wrongdoing by him. Name one for me. I live in a village in Lonavala and I have seen development here in past five years. I am going by my personal experience. Most people who have signed against Modi live in cities where development has come to a saturation point. Whereas my village, where there was no road, water, electricity, is flourishing now,” states Riju.
While he believes that certain problems will take a long time to solve, people have to believe and give time for things to reflect.
According to theatre artist Sanjana Kapoor, a signatory in the appeal by theatre artists against PM Modi, people are basically very concerned about what is happening in our country. “The fact that we are moving into a space when there is so much hatred being spread. We are not telling you whom to vote for but really saying what needs to stop. We just have to stop this hate; it has to end,” says Kapoor.
Theatre artist Prakash Bare, who started the appeal for theatre artistes, is of the opinion that the Constitution is getting diluted in by the way our government is functioning. “The last five years probably have been the worst in Indian history with censorship and faking of data. At this juncture, I think the country should basically think before reaching a decision. Otherwise, we are going to suffer,” says Prakash.
Since the divide has become so evident with names flying in from all corners of the entertainment industry, will the political spectacle affect the industry in the long run? “It is very momentary and Modi hasn’t caused it. The divide will be gone once the election is over. This is the same gang that was in the Award Wapsi gang,” says Riju.
However, Anand is of the view that with the kind of money this government has, it can buy off many people. “Some people are not for sale and those are the minority. So when you have the minority that is not for sale that speaks out against the government, you are measuring that with the majority that is on sale. All we are saying is that people should make a wise choice thinking about what has happened in the last five years,” he says.
Riju adds that as an artiste, it is not his job to influence voters. “My job as an artiste is to say what I feel is right and I talk about that. I won’t say whom or whom not to vote for. We belong to a county with a crab mentality. When somebody tries to do something good, they are pulled down. I have no connection with Modi whatsoever. At the grassroots level, I interact with a lot of government bodies and personnel and I have noticed a remarkable difference in the way bureaucrats are operating,” he concludes.