KOCHI: “Art, especially Bollywood, is being used as a tool to spread divisive thoughts among the citizens. It has become a destructive weapon in the hands of those at Nagpur,” said Swara Bhaskar, a Bollywood actor and a vocal citizen, who was in the city to deliver the sixth Dr TK Ramachandran Memorial Lecture, at the TDM Hall. She highlighted how artists are targeted maliciously when they try to discharge their duties as responsible citizens and question the actions of the powerful.
“I never identified myself as an activist,” said Swara. However, she was tagged as one just for speaking out against the wrongs that she saw in society. “I am an artist. An actor. But I am a citizen too,” she said. Swara said today’s society has a painfully limited understanding of art, thoughts and stories. “They don’t understand the power of art. It’s a huge transformative power. It is this power that makes the artist. Free art is a big threat to any authoritarian state,” she said.
However, tragically, the state has realised the power and danger of art, she said. “It is now using art, especially cinematic art, in the Hindi language to project Hindutva. Look at the historical films that are being made in Bollywood. The scripts of these films are parroting the divisionist propaganda of Nagpur,” said Swara.
It is the reason why art and artists must engage or else the state will force us to project their agenda, she added. According to her, had T K Ramachandran been alive today, he would surely have been crowned the king of anti-socials by the Modi lovers.
“Speaking out makes you a target. It is something that I have a first-hand experience of,” said Swara who was called an anti-national and a terrorist lover for voicing her opinion on Gujarat violence and, later, when Modi got elected to power.