Theatre personality M K Raina supports protesting artists
Mumbai : Theatre director and Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee M K Raina has come out in support of writers, filmmakers and other intellectuals who have returned their state awards in protest against “rising intolerance” and has called the present situation in the country as “disturbing”.
“The situation now is very disturbing in the sense that it is very easy for you, me and others to talk. When you look at the minority, how they feel quietly? They don’t speak out and if anyone speaks out everybody pounces on them. This is not a very good or healthy situation for the nation,” Raina said.
The director had also been part of a “resistance” meet (Pratirodh) in Delhi recently, where writers, artistes, thinkers and academics had gathered against what they described as “attack on reason, democracy and composite culture”.
“You cannot build nation on fear, you can’t build nation on anybody’s whims and fancies, accusing someone of his nationalism saying ‘you are not an Indian’. Nations don’t mature like that. And when this comes from people in the Parliament who are leaders, it is disturbing,” Raina said.
The veteran actor and director said the various autonomous bodies such as the Sahitya Akademi in the country were being bogged down under the pressure of the state.
“The Akademis are now gradually loosing their autonomy and succumbing under the pressure of the state and that is disturbing.
“Now if you look at the charter under which they had been formed, the academies are supposed to be autonomous. But over the period of time they are just doing what government wants them to do and that is disturbing,” Raina said.
The director, who has received the Sahitya Kala Parishad Award (1981) and the Sangeet Natak Akademi award (1995) said he was contemplating whether or not to return his honours.
“I don’t know whether I will also be returning my award or not, but I am with the writers and honour their writing. And no one is asking anybody to give up their awards but who knows if things become worse I might just. But one thing I would like to add is that I love my award,” he said.
Raina, a graduate of the National School of Drama, who has produced over 130 plays in 14 languages and acted in Bollywood films such as ‘Taare Zameen Par’ and ‘Aisha’ said he feels the “pain” of writers and others who are returning their awards.
“After 35 years of hard work I won recognition from peers in the same field. So have the rest of us in our own spheres and if our freedom of expression is being curbed, then this award has no meaning for us. Believe me, I know when a writer is giving up his award, I know how he or she feels as the award must have been there in his or her house for 20 years,” Raina said.
The veteran artist is set to stage the solo-act drama ‘Chandamama Dur Ke’ – a dialogue between a mother and her unborn child– in Munbai on November 7 in collaboration with Bhawans Cultural Centre.
“This is an experimental production. Neeta Mohindra is going to perform for one and a half hour and is based on the right of a mother to have a child. The play has been based on a book ‘Letter to An Unborn Child’ but it has been adapted in an Indian context,” Raina said.