Veteran actor-director Amol Palekar was repeatedly interrupted during his speech by some members of the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai on Friday evening. Palekar was speaking at the opening of an exhibition â€œInside The Empty Boxâ€ in the memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe. A video available on social media showed Palekar criticising the Ministry of Culture for reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at the galleryâ€™s Mumbai and Bengaluru centres.
Referring to these reports, Palekar said, â€œMany of you may not know that this retrospective will be the last show decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or an agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline.
â€œAs of November 13, 2018, the artistesâ€™ advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore â€” have been abolished, is what I have learnt,â€ he said. He added that he was â€œin the process of verifying the hearsayâ€.
Just got this video of one of my favourite actors, Amol Palekar, being cut off while ruing the loss of independence in art at @mumbai_ngma simply because he seemed critical of a Ministry of Culture/NGMA decision.â€” Annu Tandon (@AnnuTandonUnnao) February 9, 2019
This is what #intolerance in the present times is all about. Sad! pic.twitter.com/u8L30qeiz7
At this point, an NGMA member on the stage interrupted, saying that Palekar should talk about the event.
To which, Palekar responded, â€œI am going to talk about the same. Are you applying censorship to that?â€ He then said that as per his information, after the abolition of local artistsâ€™ committee, decisions as to whose work should be exhibited would be taken from Delhi by the Ministry of Culture.
He was again interrupted by a woman, who said, â€œThis is not needed at the moment, sorry... The function is about Prabhakar Barwe, please stick to that.â€
However, Palekar refused to stop, and went on to mention that writer Nayantara Sahgal was invited to speak at the Marathi literary convention recently but at the last minute the invitation was withdrawn because what she was going to say â€œwas slightly critical of the situation around usâ€.
â€œAre we creating the same situation here?â€ he asked.
Speaking to the media later, he said, â€œThe director was present there and she even said that I should have spoken to her before speaking this here. I replied whether my script would be censored before I speak. I even told them that I wanted to thank the Ministry of Culture for the magnanimity of culture for showing this exhibition. She said she doesnâ€™t want any backhand compliment like this and left.â€