Filmmakers returning National Awards brave act: Mahesh Bhatt

New Delhi :Mahesh Bhatt has lauded the 36 filmmakers, who have returned their National Awards in support of protesting FTII students and against the growing environment of intolerance in the country.

Today 24 more names from the film fraternity including noted filmmakers Kundan Shah, Saeed Mirza and writer Arundhati Roy returned their National Awards, joining 12 other noted names from the movie business like Dibakar Banerjee and Anand Patwardan.

The “award wapsi” campaign has faced criticism from some sections, who call it selective protest. Bhatt, 67, said that those criticising this move are entitled to their opinion.

“Filmmakers returning their National Awards is a brave act. I find nothing wrong in it. They as citizens of India are entitled to express their dissent through the means they choose. If this is how they want to express their unhappiness about the existing atmosphere in the country and growing violence, then that is their privilege,” Bhatt told PTI.

“I think after they started expressing and others joined it, the government did send a representative, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who approached leaders of the industry… This is the result of the agitation, and whole ‘award wapsi’ process.” When asked if he would return his multiple National Awards, Bhatt said, “Since I never went to accept them, how can I return them.”

The filmmaker revealed that he has approached Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali for a song in his play “Milne Do”, which celebrates the spirit of peace and harmony and stars Indian and Pakistani actors.

Ali has been at the centre of a controversy in India after his concert in Mumbai last month was cancelled following Shiv Sena’s threats. The 74-year-old singer scrapped his upcoming show in Delhi, saying he did not want to get involved in any kind of politics.

Calling the cancellation of the show by the maestro a “mature” move, Bhatt said, “As a mature artiste, who is concerned about the well being of people in this kind of volatile times, for the time you let the dust to settle and you step back and let things cool down.”