Censorship is not just for cinema but literature too in contemporary India, National Award-winning actor Rohini said on Friday, while also claiming that the chaos following protests against "Padmavati" was also being used to divert attention from "real" crises in the country.
Rohini was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 48th International Film Festival of India, which has been marred by the controversy following the unceremonious dropping of two films "S Durga" and "Nude" from the Indian Panorama, that resulted in the resignation of three jury members.
The Andhra Pradesh-born actor, who won the National Award in 1995, said that the canvas of censorship covered literature as well as cinema, citing the example of Tamil writer Perumal Murugan whose novel "Madhorubhagan" (One Part Woman), which triggered protests as well as litigation. As a result, Murugan had threatened that he would give up writing.
"We live in a time of strict censorship. You can see many things happening over the last three years, which includes the protests against Perumal Murugan's novel," Rohini told reporters.
"There is no freedom of expression and freedom of speech. If somebody says something, they get arrested or raided," she said.
Commenting on the protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film "Padmavati", Rohini said that the agitations against the film drowned out the protests held by 3,000 odd farmers in the national capital on November 20.
"I think the controversy over 'Padmavati' was a tactic to divert people's attention. Because if you talk about cinema, everyone will speak about it," Rohini said.
Speaking about the ongoing controversy at IFFI over Malayalam film "S Durga", Rohini said that censorship in the sphere of art and literature must be protested against.
"We have to protest and stand our ground. We have to say that it's not right. We should send out a message that nobody is taking it lying down. You cannot curb freedom of expression and speech. We will protest and win back," she said.
Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court on Friday turned down a request from the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting to stay the court's earlier order, which directed the IFFI authorities to screen a certified copy of "S Durga" at the festival.