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Home / Brunch / Dear 2020: Piyush Mishra’s open letter to the coming year

Dear 2020: Piyush Mishra’s open letter to the coming year

I want artists to become more responsible and not use their creative freedom to peddle soft-porn

brunch Updated: Dec 28, 2019, 23:05 IST
Piyush Mishra
Piyush Mishra
Hindustan Times
Piyush Mishra returned to theatre this year with his musical, Gagan Damama Bajyo;  location courtesy: Prithvi Theatre
Piyush Mishra returned to theatre this year with his musical, Gagan Damama Bajyo; location courtesy: Prithvi Theatre(Brahms Dirsipo)

Dear 2020,

The Censorship Vs Creative freedom debate is possibly one of the longest running ones and it will not end any time. But I absolutely don’t agree to the view that creative freedom should be absolute. Censorship is important because without that anyone will be putting out anything in the public domain under the garb of ‘creative content’. Without censorship, it will become a jungle raj, a free-for-all! In fact, I am already seeing something similar happening in the web series space. Things are increasingly taking a bizarre turn. There are web series that are misusing the lack of censorship and putting out random nudity, sex scenes, and extreme violence in the name of hard-hitting content. But often these are only used to grab eyeballs and serve no other purpose in the story. In fact, there is one such web series that I have sang the title song for, I had no idea that it will turn out to be a compilation of rural sex stories.

“Raj Kumar Hirani’s films were bold commentaries on society, and were all mass hits!”

There are countries like Sweden that have no censorship. But our ground realities are very different from them. Censorship and its mandate should be based on the norms and values of the country and updated as the society progresses. Advocating the total abolishment of censorship is no less dangerous than the smothering censorship during Emergency period. The world does not work in extremes, there needs to be a middle path. The censor board needs to be formed with the right kind of people and should represent a cross section of the society.

“Advocating the total abolishment of censorship is no less dangerous than the smothering censorship during Emergency period”

Also, I don’t think there is some serious attack on creative freedom in India today. A film like Udta Punjab (2016) was eventually passed with just one cut. This would be unthinkable 10 years back. I think we are far more liberal today. Also, there are ways to say the same thing in a different manner. Look at the cinema of Raj Kumar Hirani, apart from PK (2014), which got into trouble with the censor board for nudity, none of his five films got the snip and yet all were bold commentaries on the society. The problem is that today most people want to create controversial content just to get some easy publicity. Also, you don’t need to be derogatory to prove a point. If you simply want to be blatant and offensive then you are on a very wrong track to begin with.

Having said that, political content can land you in some trouble but that is nothing new, it has been the same under every regime.

So, in 2020 I want artists to become more responsible and not use their creative freedom to peddle soft-porn, especially on the OTT platforms, and I also hope for a well-represented, accountable and standardised censor board.

(As told to Ananya Ghosh)

Naseeruddin Shah’s open letter to 2020. Read here

Makarand Deshpande’s open letter to 2020. Read here

Faezeh Jalali’s poem for 2020. Read here

HT Brunch cover story: By the people, for the people, of the people… Four thespians write down their wishlist for 2020. Read the entire article here

From HT Brunch, December 29, 2019

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