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Why doesn’t Arundhati Roy give up Man Booker, asks Anupam Kher

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News Delhi: Barely a week after spearheading a ‘March for India’ against writers returning awards, actor Anupam Kher launched an attack on writer Arundhati Roy, saying that she should give up her Booker Prize rather than returning the National Award she received.

“Why doesn’t Arundhati Roy give up her Man Booker Prize instead of the award for her best screenplay? Booker Prize is an international prize and as an ambassador of world peace, she should have given up that award citing Syrian crisis,” Kher asked a news agency.

Kher is in Delhi with his play “Mera Woh Matlab Nahi Tha” which will be staged on Saturday.

Kher, who was at the forefront of protest against ‘Award Wapsi’ by writers and filmmakers, also charged them with sullying the image of the country.

“The intolerance campaign has tarnished the image of the country. Writers like Arundhati Roy are unfathomable to layman/woman and we shouldn’t forget that she made statements like Kashmir should go with Pakistan,” Kher said.

Referring to one of his interviews in Singapore, Kher said that even foreign media is biased in reporting about India and they posed queries only on intolerance.

“The interview was a selective one about intolerance. Foreign media chooses what suits them. I raised my concern in the interview and I think it’s not aired,” Kher said, adding that the New York Times and The Economist have highlighted intolerance instead of the development aspects of India.

“International media has headlines like ‘India no more a tolerant country’. The intolerance level in those countries may be higher than India,” he added.

On the raging controversy over Tipu Sultan in Karnataka, Kher said actor Girish Karnad shouldn’t have made comments about renaming Bangalore airport, replacing the name of 16th-century city founder Kempe Gowda with Tipu.

“Karnad is a senior actor and I feel that he shouldn’t have made comments (for) which he had to apologise later,” the actor said.

Kher’s ‘March for India’ also kicked up a controversy after journalist Barkha Dutt was allegedly heckled by the protesters. Though Kher extended an apology, he said there was no documentary evidence of such an incident.

“There is no footage showing abuse or name calling of the journalist. I think that it could be a planted one,” he said.

Calling those returning their awards as pseudo-intellectuals, Kher also alleged that they have never asked an audience with the prime minister on the issue.

“I met the prime minister after the march. The writers, who returned the awards, never asked for an audience with the PM. Poet Munnawar Rana who returned the award said on TV that he wanted to meet the PM. The PMO got in touch with him, but he never responded,” said Kher.

Hitting out at film director Dibakar Banerjee, who returned his National Award, Kher said that Banerjee has misled people.

“Though Dibakar got National Award for two films, he returned the award for ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’ which belonged to the producer. He never returned the one for ‘Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye’, because the producer was Walt Disney. And he said that ‘Maine apne hisse ka award wapas kiya hai’.”

Kher also felt that it’s a campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “All these people never wanted Modi as prime minister. Suddenly, India has become intolerant for them. Emergency was the worst India ever witnessed, so was the Sikh massacre. Why didn’t they respond when the Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the state?”

Refuting charges that his moves are politically motivated, Kher said he has never minced words on issues. “I haven’t gained anything politically. I marched for my country. I have spoken against Gajendra Chauhan’s appointment in FTII and also against attacks on Shah Rukh Khan,” said Kher.

The actor is unfazed about any backlash on his acting projects.

“I have millions to support me. The tickets for my play are sold out a month before. The common man doesn’t listen to the intellectual nonsense by a section of people,” he said.

(Preetha Nair, IANS)

 

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Actor Anupam Kher Says That Cinema And Politics Cannot Be Separated

"The Accidental Prime Minister" is slated to release on January 11

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National Award winning actor Anupam Kher, who essays the character of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in “The Accidental Prime Minister”, says cinema and politics cannot be separated since one reflects the other.

The film, even before its release, has grabbed a lot of eyeballs and faced criticism for the projection of its central character and for being timed to hit the screens before the 2019 general elections.

Anupam told IANS: “Look, when the audience is going to the theatre to watch a film, they are regular cine-goers and movie lovers. They are not entering the hall as a voter.

“But yes, when they come out, the film might linger in their mind. But then, cinema and politics cannot be separated, because they are a reflection of each other.”

The actor further said: “A filmmaker or an artiste really cannot figure out why people are voting for a political party. Some voters are loyalists; some are making a list of good and bad to choose a party and the government. How much can a film could contribute to that?

“Having said that, I personally believe that when people go to vote for choosing a government, they do not decide anything based on the impact of a film.”

The movie is based on an eponymous book which was released during the 2014 elections when the political transformation happened and the nation voted the Bharatiya Janata Party government over the Congress-led UPA government.

Does the film intend to influence the voters to form an opinion on the Congress party by showing Singh in a critical light?

“It is ridiculous to say that people choose a political party and a change happened in the government because of Sanjay Baru’s book! Similarly, it would be silly to say that this film will change the result of the election this year,” replied the 63-year-old actor.

Anupam Kher
Cinema, politics can’t be separated: Anupam Kher, flickr

Directed by Vijay Ratnakar Gutte, the film also features Akshaye Khanna, Aahana Kumra and Arjun Mathur.

The book gives an insight of the Prime Minister Office (PMO) as well as the personal journey of Singh. And the film’s trailer gives a glimpse how the narrative will emphasise on the contradiction and difference of opinion between the PM and the Congress Party, especially its then president Sonia Gandhi.

In fact, such elements in the book also received some criticism in 2014.

Asked if highlighting on the conflict between the former PM and Congress party president is the core content of the film, Anupam said: “No, no, the story is a very humane tale of a man, who was born into a middle-class family and with his merit, he excelled and became a Prime Minister.

“He is a man with all heart, a true patriot, well read, humble man who went through a huge struggle and felt vulnerable as a Prime Minister of the country.”

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Commenting on the party president and PM conflict, the actor added: “It was never a secret. It was rather an open secret that has come out. It was there in the book as well!

“Everyone knew that he was chosen to become a Prime Minister by the Congress party and he was the least expected candidate. Our film is shown from the point of view of a media advisor in the PMO.

“It would be appreciated if audiences watch the film, as a story.”

“The Accidental Prime Minister” is slated to release on January 11. (IANS)