For years, Indian liberals have fought for the right to freedom of artistic expression — the paintings of M. F. Husain, Jatin Das, movies like Fire and PK and readings of the Three Hundred Ramayanas.
As calls rise for a ban on the release of Padmavati — a film that valourises Rajput caste identity and glorifies sati, we ask:
Is Padmavati forcing Left-liberals and feminists into an awkward silence on the question of unqualified freedom of expression?
Lawyer, former UPA minister
“What do the movies Sexy Durga, Nude, and Padmavati have in common? They send out a chilling message to the creative community to install a humongous censor in their heads.”
Associate Professor, Santa Clara University
“Indian liberals too have often been guilty of inconsistencies in this regard on paternalistic grounds of ‘protecting’ the Muslim community from the omnipresent threat of the Hindu nationalist demon.”
Associate professor, CSDS
“There is a shared assumption that common viewers/readers are not mature enough to draw their own meanings; hence, they need to be educated about their identifiable sentiment and/or factual history.”
“The reality of our society’s rigid hierarchies, however, highlight how only some kinds of viewpoints are privileged under our notions of free speech.”
“The merits of any movie are best judged by an audience in a cinema, not by the scissors of a censor board.”