Speaking at the opening ceremony of International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) on Friday, actor Prakash Raj said efforts are being made by a few people to stifle his voice and discourage the next generation of artists from thinking freely.
The 52-year-old actor, who was the chief guest at IFFK’s 22nd edition, appealed to artists to speak out against injustice and be the “voice of the voiceless.”
“I talk and I raise my voice because I don’t belong to a political. I raise my voice as an artist as I feel responsible to speak. We the film fraternity, artists of the society, are what we are not because of (our) talents. But, they are what they are because of the love from the society,” said the actor, adding the members of the film fraternity owes the society to be its voice.
“When artists, creators, and creative people become cowards, we should realise we make society cowardly,” Prakash said. “We have to be the voice of those who cannot raise voices.”
Prakash Raj also claimed he has been facing threats from some groups. “They are threatening me, I laugh at them. They are trying to silence me, I have started singing. What more can you take away from me? I don’t need any political party support because I stand among the people. Whatever you do to me, they (people) will see. They will know what I got hit for and why you hit me,” he said
He alleged there are efforts underway to discourage the next generation artists from thinking freely and keep them under fear. Prakash Raj, referring to the violent incidents against critics and rational thinkers, said, “when you silence a voice, a louder voice will be born.”
Prakash Raj also slammed the BJP-led government in Rajasthan for its inaction against those issuing threats against artists. “Today if somebody is being lynched and killed in Rajasthan. If somebody is threatened that we will cut your nose. Cut your head. And there is a prize money announced and then they can go scot free. We need to think ladies and gentlemen, what is this narrative,” he said.
On the controversy surrounding Malayalam film S Durga, he said: “They have a problem with a film called S Durga but, they don’t have a problem with ‘Durga wines and bar’. They don’t have a problem if a street named ‘Durga is dirty.’”
S Durga was dropped from the list of films that were selected to be screened at the recently concluded edition of the International Film Festival of India.
“Films being stopped is the most dangerous thing. Stopping thinking, creativity, free expression is the most dangerous disease a society can have. Yes, there have been such incidents of stopping a dissenting voice and artwork for years. But, today we are questioning because you are doing it. Don’t ask me why didn’t you question them,” the actor added.
“You are trying to silence the voice and instil fear so the next generation is even afraid to think,” he said. “We should not let that happen.”
He also took on Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde who recently claimed that Hindutva and nationalism were one and the same. “When these people force a narrative saying, Hindutva and nationalism are the same, do you want us to believe what Hindutva is or you are trying to put in something else in the guise of Hindutva?” he asked.
“We as Malayalis, Bengalis, Kannadigas, Tamilians, want to celebrate our language and culture, where do you want us to learn Hindi? I have a question is it because you want to listen to what you say or understand our problem? Tell me your agenda,” he said.