Debate on free speech heats up; actor Anupam Kher booed

Mumbai: Actor Anupam Kher was booed by audience as a debate at a literary festival here on freedom of speech heated up, with the actor wondering aloud if it was a paid audience.
Kher was among the panel of speakers at the debate on ‘Freedom of expression is in imminent danger’ organised as part of the Tata Literature Live Festival tonight.
Kher along with BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli spoke for the motion whereas former BJP ideologue Sudheendra Kulkarni and noted writer Shobha De spoke against the motion.
Soon after Kher rose to speak, he was booed after he recalled Shobha De’s past as an editor of a film magazine “which printed gossip about which film star slept with whom.”
Undeterred, Kher went on saying “people have an agenda and cannot handle a chaiwala becoming a PM.”
As the booing continued, Kher said he had spoken to the festival organiser Anil Dharker in the morning and expressed his apprehensions of a paid audience at the debate.
This infuriated several members of the audience who kept on booing the actor.
His wife Kirron Kher, a BJP MP, who was in the audience rose to his defence but the audience did not stop booing Kher who said being a theatre artist he was used to such booing.
Dharker said it was ridiculous to suggest that the audience at the debate which ended at around 10 PM, was a paid.
Moderator Nik Gowing former BBC anchor declared the motion carried after a show of ‘ballot pamphlets’ by audience.