Savita Raj Hiremath, the producer of ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, which won the National Award in 2007 for the best Hindi film, has expressed displeasure over its director Dibakar Banerjee returning the National Award.
Earlier on Friday, Anupam Kher also spoke about his reservations on the director’s move in an interview to The News Minute. Kher argued that since it wasn’t an individual award won by Banerjee, he should have consulted the rest of the cast and crew of the film, before taking such a decision.
Speaking to the Times of India, Hiremath, who feels the National Award is as important as the national flag and as prestigious as the Oscars, said she was appalled to hear about Banerjee returning the award on TV. The producer was quoted as saying, “We had a brief chat and he apologized to the film's team for his action.”
She added, “People work for this honour all their lives without getting it, while we were lucky to receive it for our first film. Why would I give up something so dear for a cause which seems politically motivated?”
She further added, “I don't see anything having gone drastically wrong with the country in the last year-and-a-half. If anything, the protests by a particular group are only maligning the image of India in the eyes of the world.”
However, the filmmaker on his part said that he only returned his individual medal and his share of the prize money. He told TOI, “I am merely returning my share, my credit, my name and my association with the respect to protest against the process of selection in the governing body of our country's premier film institute on political grounds rather than merit. I believe if I can address this smaller, more specific issue of advanced education, it will go a long way towards addressing the bigger issues that are not my concern at the moment. The FTII issue concerns students, teachers, parents and filmmakers like me, who work closely with graduates from the institute and other film schools.”
Incidentally, Banerjee had joined 12 other filmmakers, along with the likes of Anand Pathwardhan on November 29, to return their national awards on the day when FTII students ended their 140-day strike. The students were protesting against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairman of the institute.
These filmmakers joined a host of writers and intellectuals who have returned their awards earlier, protesting over the ‘growing intolerance’ in the country after the Centre was apparently silent following the murders of noted rationalists M M Kulbargi, Govind Pansare and the Dadri beef-lynching incident.