Bollywood filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee says he is sad that veteran actor Anupam Kher is unhappy with his decision of returning the National Award. “Anupam ji is right about the fact that the award is of the team. I regret the fact that they’re sad about me returning the award but I knew some people would be unhappy with this move. It was not a happy decision for me to take, so I was expecting it,” Banerjee told reporters at a Mumbai event.
Earlier this week, 10 filmmakers, including Banerjee and Hunterr director Harshvardhan Kulkarni, returned their National Awards over “growing intolerance” in India and in the support of FTII students. “Anupamji speaking up against it, in a way, is a support because he considers the matter important enough to speak about it. Therefore I’ve managed to draw the people’s attention,” Banerjee added.
Kher, who worked in Banerjee’s Khosla Ka Ghosla, which bagged a National Award, criticised the filmmaker’s decision to return the award saying it belonged to the entire team and not just one individual.
Banerjee said the award belonged to the entire team of the 2006 comedy-drama but he was resigning only his contribution.”It is their (the team) award too. But when I am returning the award, I am returning only my contribution to it. Through this I want to draw attention of the people that I am saying something. I am not a big filmmaker who people will listen to.”
Reacting to the criticism that the move of filmmakers and authors returning their awards is “selective outrage”, Banerjee said, “The moment there is a protest, people say why didn’t you protest then? There must’ve been some reason, does that mean I can’t protest? What was wrong yesterday is still wrong. Returning the award is not a happy decision. The whole point of protesting is giving away something which is precious... Otherwise there’s no point.”
Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) students recently ended their strike but were planning to continue the protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the chairman and other appointments.
Asked who could be some of the prospective personalities who could take up the position, Banerjee replied: “Anupam Kher - if he agrees and has the time for it, also because he runs a big institute himself and Paresh Rawalji. What you feel if Anupam Kherji or Paresh Rawal were the chairman, think logically and say it with your heart, will this crisis have occurred? Will these strikes happen? We would’ve laughed on the students if they would’ve held strikes in that case.”
“Only a very senior person can become the chairman of FTII - who has worked 20-40 years on a very high level in the industry. That maybe Paresh Rawal, Saeed Mirza, Anupam Kher, Javed Akhtar or Vidhu Vinod Chopra - because the responsibility of the chairman is to guide the students.”