Veteran actor and director Amol Palekar was repeatedly interrupted during his speech at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai and then cut off after he criticized the government.
Mr Palekar was speaking at the opening of an exhibition "Inside The Empty Box" in memory of artist Prabhakar Barwe. A video circulating on social media showed Mr Palekar criticising the Ministry of Culture for reportedly scrapping the advisory committees at the gallery's Mumbai and Bengaluru centres.
Check it out here-
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.— Annu Tandon (@AnnuTandonUnnao) February 9, 2019
This is what #intolerance in the present times is all about. Sad! pic.twitter.com/u8L30qeiz7
"Many 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," Amol Palekar said referring to news reports.
"As of November 13, 2018, the artistes' advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore have been abolished, is what I have learnt," he said.
He further added that he was, "in the process of verifying the hearsay." At this point, a gallery member on stage interrupted, saying that Amol Palekar should talk about the event. "I am going to talk about the same. Are you applying censorship to that," Mr Palekar responded.
He then said that as per his information, after the abolition of local artists' 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, "This is not needed at the moment, sorry....The function is about Prabhakar Barwe, please stick to that."
However, Mr 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Sahgal was invited to speak at the Marathi literary convention recently but at the last minute the invitation was withdrawn because what she was going to say, "was slightly critical of the situation around us. Are we creating the same situation here?" he asked.
The incident triggered angry reactions from the opposition too.
Later, the actor said at the press conference, "I feel restless that no one in the audience said 'Let Palekar speak his mind'.
Meanwhile, Jesal Thakar, the curator of the program told Times Now that Palekar was "requested" and not really "interrupted". She said, "He had already spoken his mind on these issues, if you see the complete video of his speech. He was merely asked to stick to the sentiment of the evening which was Prabhakar Barwe."
(Inputs from PTI)