Controversy around Padmavati only reinforces the fact that art is powerful: Nandita Das

Actor-filmmaker Nandita Das on Sunday said demanding a ban on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Padmavati only reinforces the fact that art is powerful.

The 48-year-old director said suppressing an artiste’s expression reflects that somewhere the work of art is challenging a certain thought process.

“Art doesn’t create revolutions, it subliminally goes into our subconscious — the good and the bad. And because people want to ban (‘Padmavati’) that you realise the power of art…

“It must threaten a certain way of seeing. (And) till we see multiple points of view on anything how are we going to make an informed choice?” Nandita said.

Padmavati has been in the line of fire with various Rajput groups and political leaders accusing the director of “distorting historical facts”, with protests across the country calling for a ban.

The director, whose film Manto is eyeing a release next year, was speaking at a session ‘Remembering Manto’ at the Times LitFest in New Delhi.

When asked if the artistic freedom was under threat with Padmavati in the eye of the storm, she recalled the time her films had faced troubles with the people and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

“I remember with Fire, I faced it when it came out… With Water, I had to shave my head… Before even the film was made, they said it was going to be against Hindu culture…” Nandita said.

“I think it is time we do speak up… Otherwise people are going to tell us what to wear, what to eat or whom to talk to. It is going to be very, very dangerous trend. What can a two-hour film do?” she added.

The director, however, said if certain sections of the society have to register their opposition towards any art form, there is a manner in which one can protest as she believes there is “enough room for dissent” in the country.

“I think there is enough room for dissent. There are enough ways. I think all of us are not Shah Rukh Khan and we don’t have such a large area of influence… But we have our own areas of influence and can tell 10 people if a book or a film is bad and don’t go and watch it.”

Questioning violent ways of protest, Nandita also condemned the death threats to Bhansali and film’s lead Deepika Padukone.

“There are many things that offend me. When I see very regressive dialogues, it deeply offends me. But am I going to break things, banning people or giving them death threats? Is that what we have reduced ourselves to? How righteous are we becoming?” she said.