Scary time for artistes, writers: Nandita

Actor-director Nandita Das said it is a scary time for artistes and writers of the present day as a certain sense of fear prevails among them.

“There was an episode of Padmavati in ‘Bharat ek Khoj’ TV series made by Shyam Benegal many years ago (1988) having Om Puri as Alauddin Khilji. Things we could do then but not now,” she said at a session at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Meet here on Wednesday.

“I don’t know if I could do a ‘Firaaq’ (2008) or acted in ‘Fire’ (1996) today… We had our ways to disagree or agree. We don’t have to like everything,” she said at the session which was attended by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, who has been cast as the lead for her latest movie “Manto”.


Noting that the artiste community now has to self-censor themselves, Das said, “Lots of these things are happening out of a certain sense of fear.”

She said, “Even if you say there are handful of people (protesters) but that handful seems to grow.”

Referring to Saadat Hasan Manto, the writer, playwright on whose life she has written and directed the historical period film, Das said “Manto just must be turning in his grave.”

Speaking on controversies surrounding films, Siddiqui said, “My job is to act and whichever character I get – Manto or Balasaheb Thackeray. Your political views may be different but as an actor you only put to use your experiences and follow the process.”

Asked if he would work in a project if there are protests about portrayal of certain characters, Siddiqui said “This is our profession which we chose as it is our passion. But if there are objections I will continue to do what I believe in,” he said.

Violent protests spread to towns and cities in Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh a day ahead of the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat”, as fringe groups opposing the film remained defiant. PTI