In today’s India, the mind is not without fear: Filmmaker Vikram Bhatt

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New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) In a nation where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote “Where The Mind Is Without Fear” — a stirring ode recited with immense pride by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru — filmmaker Vikram Bhatt believes the golden words now are “unfortunately not true”.

The film fraternity in Hollywood has always been very vocal about its opinions — be it on Donald Trump becoming the US President or the “white vs black” controversy in showbiz.

Often, a question has been raised about why most celebrities in the Hindi film fraternity do not speak up on important issues of the country — and instead only tweet and write about the day-to-day events in their lives.

When something unjust happens in the country, why do Bollywood stars disappear?

Bhatt says it would be unfair to draw that difference between Hollywood and Bollywood as in India, the “law and the government don’t protect us”.

“The mind is without fear — that is unfortunately not true. The mind is filled with fear. Anybody can throw a stone at our house and break it.

“Karan Johar (filmmaker) and Pakistani actor (in context of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ featuring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan)… What happened to him? Who stands by whom? Why would he tweet? Let’s not compare Hollywood and Bollywood. They are granted freedom to make a film and have documentaries made on 9/11, (former US President George W.) Bush, Christ… It would be an unfair comparison,” Bhatt told IANS.

Bhatt also cited the instance of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who was assaulted by Shri Rajput Karni Sena activists in Jaipur and whose “Padmavati” set was vandalised in Kolhapur because the group was concerned about the content of the period drama.

Voicing concern on this, Bhatt said: “When we say something, you (people) want to burn the theatres. You want to stop the film from releasing. You want to slap Sanjay Leela Bhansali and vandalise his set. Nothing happens, nobody wants to protect us, so why should we be martyred?

“Why should we come out and speak against some politician? For what? We are the entertainment industry, not the Red Cross. I didn’t see anybody coming out in favour of Sanjay Leela Bhansali… No government person.”

The filmmaker — who is the grandson of filmmaker Vijay Bhatt, one of the pioneers of the Hindi film industry, and son of Pravin Bhatt, an acclaimed director of photography — says it is imperative to “make an atmosphere of safety and freedom”.

“First make an atmosphere of freedom, of safety, of fearlessness — and then point fingers at people and ask why are they not giving their opinions. You cannot police people and then expect them to say something,” said Bhatt, who has spent 25 years in the industry directing films and writing screenplays.

His recent projects are two new web series “Spotlight” and “Gehraiyaan” on Viu app, the video on demand service of Vuclip.

Having started his career with director Mukul Anand’s “Kanoon Kya Karega”, Bhatt also worked as chief assistant on the sets of cult classic “Agneepath”. In the past few years, his filmography is dotted by horror movies and thrillers like “Raaz”, “1920” and “Haunted – 3D”.

He has also turned novelist with “A Handful of Sunshine”, which explores the world of intense romance.

(Kishori Sud can be contacted at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]>)

–IANS

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