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Mahesh Bhatt endorses litterateurs’ return of awards

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Mumbai: Veteran director Mahesh Bhatt has come out in support of noted literary personalities who are returning their awards in protest against the rising incidents of intolerance in the country over the past few months.

“It is understandable that there is a sizeable lot which feels that they have reasons to express their protest – through the gesture of returning these awards. And I completely endorse and support their view,” said Bhatt, who was present as a panelist on the ‘Make Your Mother Smile’ Campaign – A Grand Tribute to (later former president) Dr. (A.P.J. Abdul) Kalam on his birth anniversary on Thursday.

“All art and all creative work flows out of the heart of the individual who is uncomfortable with status quo. And no wonder establishments have always tried to muzzle the voice of free thought because free thought subverts power,” he added.

A number of Indian writers drawn from various languages including Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Tamil, Gujarati and Assamese to return their awards, primarily those conferred by Sahitya Akademi.

Most were upset over the Sahitya Akademi’s failure to come out in defence of M.M. Kalburgi after he was murdered in Karnataka on August 30. A few also spoke out against the lynching of a Muslim man near Delhi over rumours that he killed a cow and ate beef.

Bhatt also said: “However, there is an alternate view which is also a view which you must listen to. That perhaps by remaining within in the fold and not indulging in this gesture of merely returning the award, they may have been able to drive home their point of discomfort with their present regime more effectively.

“But as I said to somebody it depends on the politics that you have. If you believe in one kind of politics, you’ll find it very applaudable and very brave. And if you believe in the other you’ll be cynical and say that it was orchestrated and deserves to be ridiculed.”