I have written about throttling of artistic talent in this post on the website you are now reading. Now one of the controversies have come to an end. However, the resolution is not to my satisfaction. The reason for my disquiet is that the artist made compromises. Kamal Haasan the director of the movie Vishwaroopam (on which the controversy was based) agreed to cut the controversial portions of his movie. The movie has since been released on February 7 in Tamil Nadu, the state to which Haasan belongs. This is like an author agreeing to delete the portions of his novel that people – or groups of people for that matter – object to. So where is artistic freedom? How does this become a good precedent for other artists around the world, I do not know. How can this capitulation occur when artists should have stood as one and opposed sectarian forces? The Indian art scene is so divided that not many artists came to Haasan’s rescue. Only a few ventured their support.
Apparently, for Haasan a lot was at stake. He had mortgaged his house in the making of this movie and a failure to release this movie must have led to his financial ruin. Which is understandable and pardonable given his commitment to making meaningful movies. I am a great fan of his movies and his elder brother – Charu Haasan – is a good friend of mine and we write to each other often. What I am afraid of is that henceforth movie makers would shy away from creating works of art based on their free will and thinking, afraid of antagonising this or that religious group. This will be like censoring oneself, before a script becomes a movie. India has a strict board of censors who go into every movie to see if there is anything objectionable. It seems they will not be needed anymore if artistes decide to edit, cut, delete and mutilate their works of art themselves.