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Shilpa Jamkhandikar | Reuters| Pune | July 14, 2015:: “Don’t install your dummies here,” reads a poster at the prestigious Film and Television Institute of India, where the appointment of a Hindu nationalist activist as chairman triggered a month of strikes by students.
In the world’s largest film industry, some people fear the choice signals a push by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party for control of India’s most powerful medium.
New appointments at the film school have rattled an industry already upset by changes to India’s powerful film certification panel, after its chairman and a handful of members resigned, blaming government interference.
“Anyone who is sane, and who thinks, will be worried,” said film-maker Kiran Rao, who spoke out against the new censor panel. “This is affecting the way we function.”
There is no evidence yet that Modi’s 14-month-old government has significantly influenced the tone or content of films, but concerns are growing that it could rein in the industry’s liberal outlook in an overwhelmingly conservative society.
India’s popular films, though still laden with song-and-dance routines, have recently tackled weightier topics, such as human rights abuses by the Indian army in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, homosexuality and the caste system.
The 55-year-old film school, in the western city of Pune near Mumbai, India’s capital of film and finance, prides itself on quality cinema and has turned out some top film-makers. It is governed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Critics see the selection of Gajendra Chauhan, an actor known for little apart from his role in a 1980s TV serial based on the Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, as the latest in a string of political appointments to cultural and academic bodies.
Indian film, particularly Hindi-speaking Bollywood, many of whose best known actors, directors and technicians come from the school, is wildly popular in a country where one in four people is illiterate.
The films have long been one of the few aspects of Indian life that transcend barriers of caste and creed: for example, marriages between members of India’s Hindu majority and its tiny Muslim community are not unusual, on-screen and off.
“A CERTAIN AGENDA”
But opponents of Modi’s government say hardliners in his Bharatiya Janata Party want to turn secular India into a Hindu-first nation.
“Every single step this government has taken, whether in culture or education, has been to push a certain agenda,” said Shanta Gokhale, a novelist and theatre critic in Mumbai.
Chauhan, who campaigned for Modi’s BJP last year and has been a party member since 2004, told Reuters his political views would not influence his work at the film institute.
“Everyone has a political ideology they identify with,” Chauhan said. “So do I. But that ideology does not come in the way of my work.”
Also appointed as a school governor was documentary film-maker Anagha Ghaisas. Her work includes a pro-Hindu film on the 1992 demolition of a mosque in the Hindu holy city of Ayodhya, an event that sparked riots in which about 2,000 people died.
Ghaisas told Reuters she was not ashamed of her background but would work to improve the institute, and for its students.
“If you get a complete majority, why would you call members of other parties to participate? It’s a political appointment, so of course you will choose people you are confident about,” she told Reuters.
After the censors’ resignations in January, the government appointed director Pahlaj Nihalani as its chief. Nihalani made his name with adult comedies in the 1990s and his latest work was a campaign video for then-candidate Modi.
Nihalani did not respond to requests for comment.
The new censors have demanded cuts in profanity and references to homosexual relationships and extramarital affairs.
One recent demand was to bleep out the usage of “Bombay”, the Anglicised, colonial-era name for Mumbai.
“It makes me incredibly scared,” said Rao, who has worked in the industry for 15 years. “This sort of expression is essential to a democracy.” (Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques and Clarence Fernandez, Reuters.)
POST SCRIPT BY HINDU EXISTENCE: The secular operators in Congress had been allowing the communist anti Hindus in various Educational, Cultural, Historical, Scientifical and Social boards in India from the beginning. This is a set trend after independence to demoralize the Hindutva concepts in India in every walk of life through these Governmental boards in different shape. These units have been utilized to promote Islam and Christianity in the industries for a crack down in Hindu society. This is also a similar case in Pune Film Institute which plays a major role to Mumbai Film Industries in multiple levels.
Mumbai Film industries is flourished with 90% Hindu investments. Hindus have more contribution to boom it than anybody. But, the industries is frequently and frantically used for 100% anti Hindu purposes. From the beginning it is a trend to glorify Christians and Muslims as great human beings and Hindus are bloody monsters. Even, the control of Mumbai Film Industries were captured by notorious Dawood Ibrahim and the Mumbai actresses were sexually exploited by him rampantly. The Secular, Congress and the Communist intellectual were just puppet of that system of tyranny.
When this anti-Indian, anti-Hindu system is being reshuffled with some Hindu Nationalist, a hue and cry from the antagonists of Bharatiya Janata Party comes to surface. This should be chased by active Hindu force to maintain the glorification Hindutva art, cultural and Heritage in the Industries; not the propagation of Khan culture or the bolt of Sunny Leone. Who will be in any role of anti-Indian or anti-Hindu in practice, whether in film institute or film industries, must have to see dire consequences.
When someone asks me the question: Why They Think Mumbai Film Industries or the Pune Film Institute as Anti Hindu Play-grounds?
I have the only reply then: THE CONG., COMMUNIST AND SECULAR THINK ALL THE INDUSTRIES, BOARDS, COMMITTEES ARE THEIR PATERNAL PROPERTIES.
~ Upananda Brahmachari.