BHUBANESWAR: Should films be based on conspiracies? This question has been asked to several filmmakers in the past but few have put across their views on the matter as convincingly as filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri of ‘The Tashkent Files’ fame at the session, ‘Matinee Ideal-From Netaji to Modiji’ at the 8th edition of Odisha Literary Festival 2019.
Vivek’s film is based on the mystery surrounding the death of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. The director said conspiracy is one of the most favoured genres of filmmakers.
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However, his co-panelist, former Aam Aadmi Party leader and journalist Ashutosh said filmmakers must concentrate on movies that are based on real life. Citing the example of Nixon by Oliver Stone and Lincoln by Steven Spielberg, he said films in Hollywood are made after extensive research while the ones back home are not.
Vivek countered by saying Oliver Stone also made JFK, a film based on the assassination of former President of USA John F Kennedy. Conspiracy theories become truth when journalists fail to do their duty of asking questions. The director defended the Hindi film industry by citing his own efforts of four years that went into the making of ‘The Tashkent Files’.
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The discussion veered towards nationalism. Vivek, who has been vocal on his views, said nationalism is not just about serving in the armed forces. A man can be a nationalist if he is honest and has integrity. Ashutosh, who has been putting across his views on the issue convincingly on the national platform for years, said threats to scribes have become a regular occurrence nowadays. A few who dare take on the establishment run the risk of losing their jobs, he said.
“This is the reason journalists nowadays prefer to side with those in power. I have been receiving threat messages on my phone as I often speak on the present state of affairs in the country. Such things were unheard of before 2014,” Ashutosh said.
Stating that the time has come to ponder whether democracy is in danger in the garb of national security, the author of ‘Hindu Rashtra’, said he is not averse to Hindutva. Rather it is the narrative of labelling everyone who dares speak against the establishment as anti-national is what is wrong in the society today.
This only provided an opportunity to Vivek to describe Ashutosh as someone who likes to play the victim card. The author of ‘Urban Naxals: The Making of Buddha in a Traffic Jam’ said leftists have the habit of blaming the establishment for everything that is wrong with the society.
Vivek said people are more secure nowadays than ever before and nationalism, in fact, has found its true voice in the society. Taking on Ashutosh head-on, asked, “You are abusing Modi every day. Tell me where is emergency”? In fact, democracy is not drying, it has become stronger than ever before.”