Film Director Hansal Mehta in an interview has expressed serious concerns over the overt activities and statements of the RSS and allied organizations, after the recent central government’s victory in the general elections of 2014.He has stated that the “Communal and divisive Agenda of the century old rightist organization RSS is now open and public.” This interview is the launching video of a series of audio-visual interviews, available for viewing on the internet on the joint You Tube video channel by Communalism Combat andwww.hillele.org.
Hansal Mehta, the director of films Dil pe Mat le Yaar (Story of migrants) and Shahid (Minority Rights) was forthright in his assessment of the present scenario while talking about the threat of hate-driven divisive politics to journalist, educationist and humanist, Teesta Setalvad, who conducted the first interview of the series.
Mehta has won the National Film Award for best director for Shahid (2014). A marked shift in priorities of the government at the centre, was one reason that Shahid was unceremoniously replaced from being the inaugural film of the National Film Festival in May 2014, soon after election results, due to the crucial issues it raises. A fear of challenging the ideology of the ruling dispensation governs this mood of self-censorship, according to Hansal Mehta while emphasizing that there have been such threats before, even during moments of our own authoritarian past.
“Even during and after emergency, it was impossible or difficult to make serious and honest films over the period of emergency or about Indira Gandhi. While it has been easier (to make critical films) in neighbouring Pakistan.” Talking about Hindi Cinema-Then and Now, Mehta assessment of the 1950s and bollywood ran thus, “”Films in 50’s were more serious and sensitive towards society, raising several questions, tackling even the gender question. “After the angry man of the 1970’s it was tokenism that replaced a more thematic understanding of issues.”
He also talked cheerfully about his hobby, specifically about his first venture into television with a highly popular food show. A lover of good cuisine and passionate about its creation, Hansal Mehta is today learning the nuances of Awadhi Cuisine. It was Hansal, who produced the the famous Sanjiv Kapur’s show ‘Khana Khazana’. Dedicated to creating more films like Shahid , that turn the mirror of society within, Mehta spoke honestly about also creating a sex comedy with the same brutal dedication.
This interview of Hansal Mehta is the first of the series of Interviews by Communalism Combat and www.hillele.org. The Series will further include interactions with various Actors, Film Makers, Artists, Academics, Writers-Poets, Activists, Politicians and Musicians, which would be launched on their You Tube Channel ‘Hillele TV’.