Booker prize winning writer Arundhati Roy stirred a controversy on Saturday when she called Mahatma Gandhi as the ‘first corporate sponsored NGO of this country.’ She even went a step further and added ‘it was one of the greatest falsehood in this country to worship him (Gandhi) who wrote horrible things about Dalit, women and poor.’
Roy’s controversial remark evoked strong resistance from the audience when a youth asked her not to call the father of the nation a ‘corporate agent,’ to which the writer replied, “I have studied a lot about him (Gandhi) and said this on the basis of whatever he has written between 1909 to 1946.”
Roy, author of the acclaimed novel ‘God of Small Things,’ was speaking as the chief guest on the opening of the three-day long 10th Gorakhpur Film Festival –Cinema of Resistance— organised here at Gokul Athithi Bhavan, Gorakhpur on Saturday in memory of painter Chitt Prasad, comrade Govind Pansarey and Bangladeshi activist Avijeet Roy.
The writer lashed at the ‘corporate controlled system of the country,’ saying that the nation was not run by prime minister Narendra Modi but rather by big corporate honchos like Ambanis, Tatas among others. Terming the corporates as ‘baniyas,’ she said they controlled everything right from big media houses to small companies manufacturing commodities like salt, cosmetics among other things.
She even flayed the Jaipur Literary festival for not serving its basic purpose due to the influence of corporate houses that financed it. “There were much talks of free speech at the Jaipur literary festival. Writers like Salman Rushdie advocate free speech there but the corporate houses that fund the event are opposed to the idea of free speech,” Roy quipped.
Quoting Baba Bheemrao Ambedkar that caste and capitalism were the biggest enemy of the society, the writer said that these two were the biggest concern for the country having a divisive society. Raising question over the motive of Ford and Rockefeller Foundation, which has been set up to strengthen democratic values and to fight for human values, the writer said the main objective of the two were to turn the world into a ‘safe place for the propagation of capitalism.’
The writer, who attended the Gorakhpur film festival for the second time, hailed the efforts of Gorakhpur Film Society and Jan Sanskriti Manch for organising the festival without any sponsorship and funding and just through contribution by the people.
Noted filmmaker Sanjay Kak, who was also attending the film fest for the second time, said 'the audience today is much more aware and open to new cinema.' Meanwhile, national coordinator of Cinema of Resistance, Sanjay Joshi said that it was a big achievement for the entire team associated with the Gorakhpur film festival to complete ‘10 marvellous years without any sponsorship.’ Convener of the film festival Manoj Singh was among others who were present on the occasion. On the first day of the fest, documentary cinema “Sharamjeevi” express was screened along Marathi feature film ‘Fandry.’