10 more filmmakers return national awards

Mumbai/Pune, Oct 28 (IANS) In a dramatic development, 10 prominent filmmakers returned various awards and honours to the government, protesting impediments to freedom of speech and expression and showing solidarity with the FTII students, here on Wednesday.

The filmmakers are Anand Patwardhan, Dipankar Banerjee, Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, Kirti Nakhwa, Harshavardhan Kulkarni, Hari Nair, Rakesh Sharma, Indraneel Lahiri and Lipika Singh Darai.

“As filmmakers, we stand firmly with the students of FTII and are determined to not let them shoulder the entire burden of their protests. They have mounted a historic struggle and we urge others within our fraternity to come forward and carry this protest forward,” a memorandum signed by the filmmakers said.

The development came hours after three prominent alumni of the Film & Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, announced they would return their national awards to protest against what they termed “an atmosphere of intolerance” in the country in last few months.

They are: Vikrant Pawar of Maharashtra, Rakesh Shukla of Uttar Pradesh and Prateek Vats of Goa.

Pawar had bagged the President’s Gold Medal for his film, ‘Kaatal’ in the Best Short Fiction category in 2012.

Shukla won the Special Mention Award at the National Students Film Festival in 2013 for his film ‘Donkey Fair’.

Vats bagged the Rajat Kamal Award for Best Short Fiction for his film, ‘Kal, 15 August, Dukan Band Rahegi’ in 2010.

The decision by the filmmakers came shortly after the FTII students announced end to their 139-day long strike, but resolve to continue their agitation peacefully to protest against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan as FTII chairman.

Pawar said now the issue has “gone beyond FTII” and is affecting the entire education system of the country, right from the primary school levels, which is being changed without taking into account aspects which concern the society at large.

Pawar, Shukla and Vats join the long list of various scholars, intellectuals, writers, artistes and others who have returned various national awards and honours across the country in the past few days.

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