Tonella Coutinho, TNN | Mar 23, 2014, 01.09AM IST
Despite his investigative films bringing him national and international acclaim including the V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival, 2014, Patwardhan considers himself a failure, as the difference his films have made in furthering the cause of the people is in his own words, ‘marginal’.
In his acceptance speech at the festival’s award ceremony, he cited examples, film by film, of this failure. “Father, Son and Holy War was about our patriarchal system and the connection between religious violence and machismo… yet today we have a prime ministerial candidate who publicly boasts of his 56 inch chest size even as his crimes of omission and commission during the pogroms of 2002 are forgotten and forgiven by the entire corporate world and its embedded media.”
With elections looming round the corner, Patwardhan shared his fears that BJP leader Narendra Modi might just become our next prime minister. “It is depressing. The fact that he is getting support from corporate India confirms that his dictatorial style of governance is seen as conducive to big business. Hitler and Mussolini also got full support from the business moguls of their time. But the Gujarat model is not sustainable. Land is being stolen from the poor and given virtually free to industrialists. Water from the Narmada dam instead of going to quench drought prone regions is pumped into the Sabarmati to grace the promenades of Ahmedabad. The Tata Nano loses money on every car but is subsidized by the state. With such sweetheart deals is it a wonder that the elite class is elated? ”
The scenario is bad even if Modi doesn’t win says Patwardhan because this new ideology is not limited to those with anti-minority politics. “It has seeped into other parties, into the media, the military and the administration. Witness the way Muslims are generally treated by the police. See how top army and top police officers join the BJP immediately after resignation or retirement.”
When told that his critics label him an impractical idealist he smiles and points out that this is the perhaps the politest thing he has been called. He does not shy away from expressing unpopular points of view as seen by his comments on the Tarun Tejpal case. “Without exonerating Tejpal, or doubting the word of the victim, what worries me is the uncanny timing of the event. The biggest story that was doing the rounds before the Tejpal case broke was one which involved Modi using vast resources of his administration including the ATS (anti-terrorism squad) to stalk one woman. Shockingly the personnel involved overlap with those accused in the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case. Yet Snoopgate completely vanished once the Tejpal story came to the fore. And Tehelka, the one brave magazine, that consistently exposed the ideology, of religious hatred suddenly got silenced four months before elections,” Patwardhan says.
Stressing that his problem is not with Hindu fundamentalism alone but with all kinds of fundamentalism, Patwardhan says, “If I were a Muslim in Pakistan I would have fought Islamic terror. But I am a Hindu living in a country where Hindus comprise an 80% majority and if inflamed and let loose, can commit genocide. Minorities can only commit suicide. Is it not my duty to see that they get protection and justice?”
Dismissed as an idealist in the world of real politik, Patwardhan has taken on the intimidating judicial system to win rights to air his film on Doordarshan and avoid the wrath of censorship. What keeps him going is his belief that people can change. “There are moments of affirmation. I have had Kar Sevaks who participated in demolishing the Babri Mosque tell me that once they saw the film, their perspective changed. Fundamentalists are not born evil. They too can change. It is because I believe this that I can carry on,” he says with a hope that has driven his film making career.
Read mor ehere — http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/An-unpopular-point-of-view/articleshow/32511117.cms