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Participating in an engaging debate at India Today Conclave South 2018, actors Prakash Raj and Vishal, filmmaker SK Sasidharan and Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah took on the BJP and the Narendra Modi government over a range of issues including Padmaavat row, Gauri Lankesh killing and movie S Durga.
On a day when the Supreme Court allowed the release of Padmaavat in all the states including those where it was earlier banned over protests by Rajput groups alleging that the film hurt their sentiments, Prakash Raj said that the state governments which banned Padmaavat citing law and order problem should quit.
See there is writing on the wall. There is no conspiracy. State governments which banned Padmaavat citing law and order should quit. If they don’t, we, the people, should vote them out,” Prakash Raj said.
Other participants in the discussion on “Stand Up, Speak Up and Make Yourself Count” were actor Vishal, filmmaker SK Sasidharan, and Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah. ey all have been vocal about the right to expression and speech.
They criticised the BJP and the Narendra Modi government for not taking strict action against fringe groups that attack freedom of speech in the name of religious sensitivities. Talking about Sasidharan’s S Durga, whose name was changed following a huge controversy, the filmmaker said that it was not a film on religion. He defended the title of the film saying he did not hurt the sentiments of any religion by making S Durga.
The BJP, their state governments, and supporters want to cater to fringe groups that carry out blatant attacks on freedom of expression, Prakash Raj said. Responding to a Padmaavat row, Prakash Raj hit out at the BJP saying, “They talk about Rajput pride. I understand if Rajputs of Rajasthan are saying so. But, what it has to do with those in Gujarat? What it has to do with Haryana?
Actor Vishal said, “(With the Supreme Court allowing an uninterrupted release of Padmaavat), justice has prevailed at the end. People working in the film industry look up to autonomous bodies who make the decision on these films and expect justice to be done, he added. Calling the allegation that the filmmakers take the sensitivities of the religious majority community for granted, SK Sasidharan said that this question “is atrocious” and “divisive,” adding, “This is not a question to be neglected. stion does not come from curiosity. It comes from divisionism. This is not a constructive question.
Responding to another question as to why no film is made on other personalities from other religions, Sasidharan said, “I can answer about the film I have made. I have not made films concerning figures from other religions. Even my film is not about religion. Prakash Raj too supported Sasidharan saying that he should not targeted for the film that is not on religion. They (the BJP) have no objection to Durga mutton shop, Durga chicken centre and the like but they have a problem of S Durga because their intent is divisive.
Prakash Raj alleged that after he addressed an event recently, the BJP people came and cleaned the stage with cow urine saying that “I am a beef eater. The actor said, “I did not talk about beef. I asked the BJP minister, who said that the government was there to change the Constitution, a question. And, they connected it with something else. Upping his ante against the BJP and PM Modi, Prakash Raj said, “They call me anti-Hindu but I am anti-Modi, anti-Shah, anti-Hegde (who had made the comment about changing the Constitution). They are not Hindus. People who support killing are not Hindus.
When Gauri Lankesh, my friend was killed, some people celebrated the murder. These were people who were being followed by PM Modi. Then I say those who support violence, killing, are not Hindus,” Prakash Raj said. Whether I have voted for him or not, he is my prime minister. He must speak up against these people. He must pull up his minister for saying that they are here to change the Constitution,” Prakash Raj said.
Dalit activist Kancha Ilaiah said accused the Modi government of playing communal politics saying that while the government drafted the triple talaq Bill, it did not support a PIL in the Supreme Court that seeks every Hindu including Dalits to have a right to become a priest in any temple in the country. Ilaiah rejected the theory that more Dalits are voting for the BJP saying, “The notion of democracy is not about vote only. The question is how after coming to power with whatever vote one got treats the lower strata of society… Why are the poorest of the poor being suppressed? Why are the young Dalits protesting ever since this government has come to power?