Veteran actor and director Amol Palekar was repeatedly interrupted during his speech at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai and then cut off after he criticized the government.
Mr Palekar was speaking at the opening of an exhibition “Inside The Empty Box” in memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe.
A video circulating on social media showed Mr Palekar criticising the Ministry of Culture for reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at the gallery’s Mumbai and Bengaluru centres.
“Many of you may not know that this retrospective will be the last show decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or an agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline,” Mr Palekar said referring to news reports.
Just got this video of one of my favourite actors, Amol Palekar, being cut off while ruing the loss of independence in art at @mumbai_ngma simply because he seemed critical of a Ministry of Culture/NGMA decision.
— Annu Tandon (@AnnuTandonUnnao) February 9, 2019
“As of November 13, 2018, the artistes’ advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore have been abolished, is what I have learnt,” he said.
He added that he was “in the process of verifying the hearsay”. At this point, a gallery member on stage interrupted, saying that Mr Palekar should talk about the event.
“I am going to talk about the same. Are you applying censorship to that,” Mr Palekar responded,
He then said that as per his information, after the abolition of local artists’ committee, decisions as to whose work should be exhibited would be taken from Delhi by the Ministry of Culture.
He was again interrupted by a woman, who said, “This is not needed at the moment, sorry….The function is about Prabhakar Barwe, please stick to that.”
However, Mr Palekar refused to stop, and went on to mention that writer Nayantara Sahgal was invited to speak at the Marathi literary convention recently but at the last minute the invitation was withdrawn because what she was going to say “was slightly critical of the situation around us.”
“Are we creating the same situation here?” he asked.
The incident triggered angry reactions from the opposition too.
The whole essence of our democracy, our constitutional rights, is the freedom to criticise the government and its leaders. No one is above criticism. This behaviour with Amol Palekar is undemocratic and highly condemnable. https://t.co/ls8EDllrza
— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) February 10, 2019
“This is so shocking, veteran actor Amol Palekar being disrupted, not allowed to speak,” the Mumbai Congress tweeted