The film-maker was part of a panel discussion, called ‘Controlling creativity: Is censorship relevant?’ alongside veteran Indian film-maker, Shyam Benegal, at the Ficci Frames 2018, on Tuesday.
Asked how the constant restrictions from the Central Board of Film Certification is affecting the creativity and freedom of expression, Shonali said, “Instead of taking action to protect the rights of women and project their image under the right light, they are restricting film-makers from doing their work freely.
“Cinema should be free… For instance, Pakistani actors are not allowed to work in Indian films, and this decision is supported by Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association. What if I want to make a film with Fawad Khan?”
While the moderator of the panel mentioned that her comment might earn her the title of an “anti-national”, she replied, “That is the problem with our country nowadays. The calls for banning Pakistani talent from working in the Indian film industry first surfaced in 2016 when cross-border India-Pakistan tension spilled over into the entertainment world, with some Indian political outfits imposing a ban on Pakistanis and a few Pakistani theatres pulling down Indian movies from their big screens.
Last month, the issue resurfaced when Union Minister Babul Supriyo said that Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’s voice in the song Ishtehaar in the Bollywood film Welcome to New York must be dubbed by someone else. Supriyo further demanded a ban on Pakistani artistes in Bollywood.
Published in Daily Times, March 8th 2018.