Silence of artists at NGMA event hurt, says Amol Palekar

Full Text Amol Palekar's Speech Criticising 'Loss of Independence' in Art

"Some artists have expressed their apprehensions about availability of less space for temporary exhibitions and retrospectives", it said.

Palekar was interrupted during his speech at the retrospective of veteran modernist artist Prabhakar Barwe when he started criticising the decision to reduce the area at NGMA holding external shows.

But since the ministry of culture dissolved the committee and chose to take control over the gallery's activities, Palekar claimed, "Many of you may not know that this retrospective (the exhibition) will be the last show that is 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". Not once, but Amol Palekar was interrupted multiple times during his speech when he criticised the Ministry of Culture for their decision of disbanding the advisory committees of the art gallery at their various centres.

"According to what I had heard and confirmed before the event, a disastrous decision was apparently taken, which meant that all future exhibitions of artworks not from NGMA's own collection, would be allotted only 1/6th of the area in NGMA, Mumbai, restricting those only to the Dome area", Palekar said. The decision of dissolving the committee was taken by the Ministry and he went on to criticse this decision of the dissolution. "We, therefore, ought to be grateful to the Almighty Ministry for not cancelling this retrospective as well", Palekar added.

On February 8, when Palekar was interrupted several times from delivering his speech, he had confronted the organisers and said they were "applying censorship" on his free expression. "When she invited me, if she were to tell me "speak about this and not about this, ' then I would have said 'thank you so much, I don't want to come", he told NDTV. Are you trying to create a similar situation by stopping me from speaking here?

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Palekar continued his speech after the disruption.

But it was the stoic silence of the film fraternity that was the most disappointing. This attitude, witnessed in bits and pieces during censorship issues over a couple of films, including Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmaavat, is now becoming a permanent trait of the Hindi film industry. "It was clear that the director was under pressure", Palekar told a press conference in Pune on Sunday.

On the other hand, director of NGMA, Anita Rupavataram has assured that a new committee is being constituted soon and hence, she believes that the allegations directed towards NGMA are baseless. So to say that it was improper for me to raise the issue at the event is not true.

"It is shocking. The propriety of my comments is being objected to by NGMA. Then how is it not proper to speak about the NGMA?" This incident seems to be a reminder that we are a long way off from that goal.

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