The controversy around returning of National Awards against the growing intolerance in the country has found veteran filmmakers Kundan Shah and Saeed Mirza joining the bandwagon.
As many as 24 filmmakers have returned the glorious National Award until now.
Kundan Shah, Arundhati Roy, Virendra Saini, Saeed Mirza, Ranjan Palit, Tapan Bose, Shriprakash, Sanjay Kak, Pradip Krishen, Tarun Bhartiya, Amitabh Chakraborty, Madhushree Dutta, anwar Jamal, Ajay Raina, Irene Dhar Malik, PM Satheesh, Satya Rai Nagpaul, Manoj Lobo, Rafeeq Ellias, Sudheer Palsane, Vivek Sachidanand, Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti, Dr. Manoj Nitharwal and Abhimanyu Dange are the filmmakers who returned the top honour.
More than 40 writers and artists and 10 filmmakers had earlier returned the top awards to register their protest.
The campaign began after the mob killing of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh’s Dadri over rumours that he had eaten beef.
The Dadri lynching and the murders of rationalists were cited as examples of rising intolerance in India.
Saeed Akhtar Mirza, who has won three national awards (Best Film on Family Welfare forMohan Joshi Hazir Ho! in 1984, Best Direction and Best Screenplay for Naseem in 1996), said this is the time for the film fraternity to come together for a cause, adding “if not now, then when?”
Arundhati Roy in her article in The Indian Express said “intolerance” is rather a wrong word to use for violence such as “lynching, shooting, burning and mass murder of fellow human beings”.
Roy returned the national award she won for Best Screenplay in 1989 for the film In Which Annie Gives it Those Ones. In 2005, she was also awarded the Sahitya Akademi honour which she turned down.
In the article, the Booker winner expressed her pride at being able to participate in the “political movement” that some writers, filmmakers and academics have initiated against “a kind of ideological viciousness” gripping the country.
Adding to that, Roy writes: “I believe what artists and intellectuals are doing right now is unprecedented, and does not have a historical parallel. It is politics by other means.”