artistic freedom


“Knock, knock”

“Who is there?”


“I will take the entire batch.”

This is not a joke, and none of the Indian comedians are courageous enough to take the blame of such offensive and obscene content. The above joke shall therefore be buried as an act of public indecency, never to be talked about again.

In a country where comedians are taken too seriously and the politicians, every five years, tell jokes for a living, the favorite pastime of the people is marinating themselves in ignorance and narrow mindedness while they fill up their bellies with moral policing and irrational conventions.

Soure: humanrightshouse.org
Soure: humanrightshouse.org

One such incident happened recently when the famous comedy group All India Bakchod, or more commonly known as AIB, posted an image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lookalike at a railway station along with a photo of the PM with a Snapchat dog filter, captioned #wanderlust. This might be funny to some, but it gathered a lot of unnecessary heat. AIB was bombarded with criticism and this began a Twitter war of words (which, by the way, is a phenomenon more consistent than the Indian monsoon.) AIB was accused of insulting the Prime Minister and hurting “national sentiments” which might make a certain lot of the population wonder as to when did the country put all its nation’s respect, culture and emotions in the hands of a minister and what exactly is the “insulting” part in the above accusations.


Source: MediaNama
Source: MediaNama

An unexpected overreaction came on the part of the Mumbai Cyber Police when an FIR was filed against AIB’s co-founder Tanmay Bhat on Friday, 14th July. The FIR?was registered under section 500 of IPC and 67 IT act (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) at the cyber police station at Bandra-Kurla Complex.

Although this cannot be regarded as an obstruction of freedom of speech but in a very clear and bold manner, confirms the ill state of the narrow minds of the citizens. This entire drama testifies the intolerance instilled in our blood. Not only that, it brings out the fact that we as a nation are not only global leaders of the service sector but are also pretty good at picking up a not so significant issue, labeling it as one and then blowing it out of proportion. This is not the first time we have observed such an outrage questioning the basic institution of liberty. In many prior cases, comedians have received death threats, legal actions have been issued and have even been victims of public outrage both online and offline.

This  has become such a hobby that we have started taking offence in our liquor instead of ice and if “taking offence” was an Olympic sport, India will surely come second, because, well, we would still have corruption in sports.


Image Credits: india.com


Vardaan Suri
[email protected]

Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped and his set was vandalized by the fringe group Karni Sena, and made the whole nation question if artistic freedom even exists in India…

Based on some floating rumours, members of Karni Sena vandalised the set of upcoming movie Padmavati and attacked crew members and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali at Jaigarh Fort in Jaipur. The reason for the vandalism according to the Karni Sena members is allegly that Bhansali is “distorting historical facts” because apparently Alauldin Khilji and Rani Padmavati have an intimate scene in the movie. This however, was just a rumour and Bhansali and team have gone on record saying that there isn’t such a thing.

It is shocking as Bhansali, who is a National Award Winner and a recipient of the Padma Shri, has to go through the pains of this vandalism because a section felt as if it was their moral duty to stop the “distortion” of the truth. Which brings me to my question: is there always a need for the absolute truth in art?

This is not the first time an incident like this has taken place in Indian cinema – social pressure has jeopardized many movies in the past. A few months back, when Fawad Khan was forced to leave the country and his movie Ae Dil Hai Mushkil was termed “anti-national”. The situation got so bad that the director Karan Johar had to make an apology video because people were boycotting his movie because of their “nationalist” beliefs. Why is Indian politics getting involved with art again and again?

This is also not the first Bhansali movie that has faced a controversy like this. His movie, Goliyon ki Raasleela, Ram-Leela, was scrutinized for using the words raasleela and ramleela in the title. Petitions were filed against the movie by Hindu protesting and the screening was banned in Uttar Pradesh. Kamal Hassan’s film Vishwaroopam faced many controversies initiating a two week ban in Tamil Nadu as well as protests from the Muslim community.

Filmmaker Govind Nihalani says: “The level of intolerance today is much higher. Today, censorship is happening by private groups – everyone wants to see how one has presented a character or story in the name of religion, history, personality, etc.”

Lack of artistic freedom is not just restricted to only cinema. Writers and painters also have their art banned because it is “not suited to the Indian culture.” Whatever Indian culture is, it shouldn’t be taking away someone’s right to express themselves through art.

Image credits: DNA India


Anagha Rakta

[email protected]