Director Ketan Mehta, who is awaiting the release of his movie Rang Rasiya, based on the life of legendary artist Raja Ravi Varma, feels India's socio-political milieu does not favour artistic freedom.
"I think the socio-political milieu of our country does not favour artistic freedom. Look at what's happening to artist M.F. Husain - the kind of controversy he has courted. It shows an intolerance to freedom," Mehta told IANS on phone from Mumbai.
Mehta's Rang Rasiya had attracted controversy for a nude sequence featuring lead actress Nandana Sen. "The censor board in India is an outdated institution which has no meaning in a modern democracy," he said.
"It speaks of regressive, constrained and conflicting minds. In Europe and America, no one has the right to cut or censor movies. They only grade the movies and attach a statutory warning for viewers below 18," he said.
"But DVDs and the Internet are gradually changing mindsets," he said.
Mehta has made contemporary classics like Mirch Masala, Mangal Pandey: The Rising, Maya Memsaab and Bhavni Bhavai.
"I am sure Rang Rasiya will be released this year," said Mehta who loves making historicals.
Even Rang Rasiya, he says, is a historical movie, "though it talks more about the freedom of creative expression. It is a leaf out of Raja Ravi Varma's artistic inspiration and his obsession with his muse Sugandha in whom he saw the divine."
"We are all historical beings and something within us drives us to connect to history. History tells us more about today than about the past. Almost all my movies barring 'Maya Memsaab' are in some way historical," said Mehta.
Gujarat-born Mehta, who has received several awards for his movies, has been declared the UTV director of the month for June.
Mehta is currently working on a couple of scripts which includes a science fiction with a contemporary twist and a
historical thriller. The historical thriller, says Mehta, is a global project with a crossover cast.
"I love making historical movies because they need sustained and detailed research. It took me 12 years to draft Mangal Pandey's script and three years to write it. A lot of research also went into Sardar. I had to travel a lot to get the audio visual right and the period set accurate and authentic," Mehta said.
While Sardar is a biographical movie about freedom fighter and India's first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel,
Mangal Pandey... is about the mutiny of 1857 and the Hindu sepoy from Uttar Pradesh, who sowed the seeds of India's fight for Independence.
Mehta plans to follow up the success of Mangal Pandey: The Rising with a sequel.
"Filmmaking is not a way of earning livelihood for me and neither a way of life. Each film is a new adventure and research," Mehta said.
Mehta loves musicals. "But the musicals made in Bollywood are rubbish. No one will be able to make movies like All That Jazz, My Fair Lady and Singing in The Rain. We do not believe in the purity of genres. We mix them up and serve them as pav bhajis," Mehta laughed, signing off.