‘IT’S EASY TO CALL ME A MODI BHAKT’

Anu­pam Kher’s out­burst against writ­ers re­turn­ing their awards got him trolled big time, but the ac­tor says he isn’t both­ered

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - An­juri Na­yar Singh an­juri. na­yar@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

Ac­tor Anu­pam Kher’s view about pol­i­tics be­ing the mo­ti­va­tion be­hind writ­ers re­turn­ing their Sahitya Akademi awards to register their protest against grow­ing in­tol­er­ance to­wards lib­er­als, has met with a back­lash lately. But the ac­tor does not seem to mind.

The 60-year-old says that his in­ten­tion of speak­ing up was never to get any­one to agree with him. “I did not speak up to get a re­ac­tion from peo­ple. I spoke as I strongly felt about it. It is easy for trolls to tag me as a Modi (Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi) bhakt. But if you see my ca­reer, I have al­ways spo­ken up about things that I be­lieve in.”

Kher says that this is not the first time that some­thing like this has hap­pened. “These writ­ers got the awards many years ago and for all these years they have not no­ticed that some­thing wrong is hap­pen­ing in the coun­try and then sud­denly they dis­cover that we are go­ing through the dark ages! We have seen worse pe­ri­ods. We have gone through Emer­gency (1975), that was the dark­est pe­riod of in­de­pen­dent In­dia, the Muzaf­far­na­gar ri­ots — those were the dark ar­eas. Why did they not re­turn their awards then? Why should this be dark? To­day, we are flour­ish­ing. There is amaz­ing progress hap­pen­ing around us. Our Prime Min­is­ter has man­aged to get In­dia on the global level,” he says.

On the point about the protest­ing writ­ers claim­ing that they no free­dom of ex­pres­sion, Kher says, “They ob­vi­ously have the free­dom be­cause they are talk­ing freely on news chan­nels. If their free­dom was cur­tailed, they would not be sit­ting and crit­i­cis­ing the Prime Min­is­ter on na­tional tele­vi­sion. This is the big­gest con­tra­dic­tion in it­self.”

Kher then goes on to say, “The ques­tion is that peo­ple don’t like to leave their com­fort zone and get into a con­tro­versy. I feel that these are the peo­ple who em­bar­rass us in­ter­na­tion­ally and go out and speak about our in­ter­nal mat­ters. I have heard au­thor Arund­hati Roy’s speeches abroad and it is dis­gust­ing the way she speaks about In­dia, poverty, and the Prime Min­is­ter. No other citizen of any other coun­try will go to another coun­try and talk so badly.”

Over 25 writ­ers have re­turned their Sahitya Akademi awards in protest against the fact that the akademi has main­tained a stoic si­lence on the mur­der of au­thor MM Kal­burgi, who was al­legedly killed for his ra­tio­nal­is­tic views. Here is what Bol­ly­wood has to say…

PHOTO: WASEEM GASHROO/HT

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