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"Aamir hasn’t spoken against Gujarat"

Friday 26 May 2006, by GOPALAKRISHNAN*Amulya

The banning of the latest YashRaj production, starring Aamir Khan, in cinemas across Gujarat is the most recent example of art being affected by public protests. Two Gujarati leaders, one in the arts and the other in politics, give their views on the controversy.

Every individual, whether an artist or otherwise, has the right to an opinion and nobody, least of all the government, should disrespect this. The hue and cry over the release of Aamir Khan’s film is absolutely baseless and unjustified. Does Aamir’s celebrity status snatch away his right to freedom and expression? Should Aamir simply sit back on his couch and refrain from saying anything because he is famous?

The Narmada Dam is certainly a sensitive issue for this state but I don’t believe that Aamir has made statements against Gujarat or against the construction of the dam. All he has said is that those affected in Madhya Pradesh should be rehabilitated. The media has, for years, been reporting and the governments of the concerned four states admit that the rehabilitation process is being done at a snail’s pace. So why is Aamir being portrayed as a villain in the whole issue? Whether his view is right or wrong, should he have made a statement or not, is all secondary.

Banning the screening of his film is like politicising his statements and twisting them in order that they can be held against him. People should learn to tolerate anybody’s opinion and statements.

The minute a personality reacts to something and comes in the eye of the public, there are bound to be strong reactions, positive or negative. If Aamir starts supporting the Dam tomorrow, people here will sing his praises like they did when he decided to adopt a village affected in the quake.

A public opinion is accepted but interference of a political party is not. There is nothing political about this. Political parties should keep away from all this and try not to blow the situation out of proportion. Aamir might have contradictory views but so what? He has said what he wanted to. Full stop. Why give it undue weightage?

The state government, which is so keen on a ban and is unofficially supporting it, is basically trying to gain mileage out of the situation. It is just trying to grab the attention of his fans and followers.

Why ban a film which is not based on the Narmada? What is the point in punishing others who are also associated with the film, along with the owners of the multiplexes and the cinema halls who had booked the film. The ban would mean nothing but a huge loss even to them.

(Kumudini Lakhia is a noted kathak dancer)

- As told to Palak Nandi

See online : The Indian Express

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