Kerala Literature Festival
Prakash Raj was in conversation with Sanalkumar Sasidharan on the topic of ‘Censorship’ at the Kerala Literature Fest in Kozhikode.

“In dictatorship censorship is used as a tool; in democracy it is manipulated. In a healthy society you don’t need censors at all. We have some officer heading the censor board and jobless people are its members. They have no idea about films. The government or the censor board should answer the question ‘who are you to decide,” actor Prakash Raj said.

The actor, who has been very vocal about his views especially for the past several months, was in conversation with Sanalkumar Sasidharan on the topic of ‘Censorship’ at the Kerala Literature Fest in Kozhikode.

Prakash Raj began his conversation saying, “It’s difficult for a victim to talk. When you talk about actors, there are two kinds – one who talks his lines and one who speaks his lines. I am one who speaks my lines.”

Censorship of Sanalkumar’s movie Sexy Durga had opened heated debates.

“The censorship options are very volatile. There is a problem with the name Sexy Durga, but there are no problems with Durga Wines, Durga mutton shops and disco bars. They are not worried about a wife called Durga abused by her husband, a child by the name without toilet facility and using open space without water and later contracting some health issues. Censorship is also there in the media. They would find some reasons for that,” he said.

When asked about trying to impose a north Indian morality to the rest of the country, Prakash Raj said that he is against the idea of saying north Indians or south Indians.

“We are all human beings, ruled by human beings. The division would start when I say north Indians and south Indians. Censorship was there since long. In democracy censorship is manipulated. It’s better that a filmmaker himself certifies a film. It’s also for people to understand and react. As much as filmmakers want their work not to be mutilated, people should raise their voice together. Unless it becomes a movement, there won’t be any change. At present who is scared about court orders in the country?”

The actor believes that it is not impossible to come together to raise our voice and those who do so are not in the minority.

“It may be difficult, but not impossible. If majority is the truth, crow should be the national bird and cow the national animal. I want to be a fearless citizen not a political leader. Let there be pressure groups. We need to question and celebrate our fundamental rights. We don’t need a central authority,” he opined.

Flaying the state government for not resisting the Centre’s agenda, he said that they also had their own agenda.

“Therefore, we have to come up on our own. Even the Congress is soft to such forces. We should give our manifesto to political parties. It’s we who understand our problems and we should ask the parties if they are there in the manifesto. I don’t have the hope that parties will do something, I have hope in people. We are not a minority… they make us feel that we are a minority. I am optimistic that it will have results. But we need to have patience, let the movement take its own time, we should keep knocking, it’s like a bud blossoming into a flower. We should start, we should grow, we should talk about ourselves.”

The actor questioned some of the narratives that even the media seemed to endorse.

Prakash Raj further said, “Everything is bought in the country. Media is bought. Love is a crime. They are instilling fear in us. Look at the narrative, how things are being presented. When teenagers won a cricket game against Pakistan, some media headlines would be ‘Surgical strike on cricket field’! Look at the narrative. We need to look at those who come up with such narratives, laugh at them, question them: ‘who are you guys’. There is a bigger narrative to empower the citizens to choose what they need… there is freedom to reject.”

While saying that choosing the medium of cinema is an individual choice, he put forward the idea that filmmakers should have self-censorship.

“Sensualities differ for different people. Coming to cinema, it depends on how we decide to use the medium. It is like how different writers write differently. Malayalam language is nothing but a song. But MT Vasudevan Nair’s writing is different from that of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer, it’s the person who writes who makes the difference. Let us have a dialogue, let us even have the freedom to be rejected.”

On morality he said, “Whose moral is right? What is morality? Everyone has their own morality.”

“It needs a lot of courage to be peaceful. I am not here as an actor but as a citizen. I haven’t spoken about my films in the past five months. When there is blood on the streets, we can’t talk about blooming flowers. Together we are stronger than any super star. I don’t want myself to know that I am dead when I am alive. Better people know when I am dead,” he said.