Amol Palekar's speech cut off at Mumbai event for criticising government

  • Amol Palekar's speech cut off at Mumbai event for criticising government

Amol Palekar's speech cut off at Mumbai event for criticising government

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. During the cultural event that was held at National Gallery Of Modern Arts in Mumbai, the actor turned filmmaker used this opportunity to speak about censorship in art forms and why it was the last art based event organized by the advisory committee of local artists. "Had I been briefed and told not to speak against the government, I would have chosen not to accept the invitation", Palekar said. I must state here that I spoke at length about Barve and also shared a few anecdotes before turning to the issues pertaining to the management of the NGMA.

The Barwe exhibition, Palekar had said, "will be the last show that is decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline". "Since separate occasions are not made for necessary discussions, and the need is dire, I respect anyone who takes the ownership of raising the issue", she said. Also, the organisers or curator of the exhibition, Jesal Thacker, had not conveyed to me while inviting me that I should not speak about any such issues at the event.

"Are we creating the same situation here?" he counter questioned on being stopped.

Referring to the decision taken by the NGMA director general on November 13 a year ago that restricted external shows to only the dome area-which is one-sixth of the total gallery space-Palekar said, "Such a policy it should have been discussed [with stakeholders]".

Palekar had also raised the concerns of other artists about the reduced space within the gallery for display of their work. "If I can not speak about these issues at the NGMA during a retrospective where else should I voice it?"

To which, Palekar responded, "I am going to talk about the same. Why is it appropriate to speak about this in the cabin, and not on a stage?", asked Palekar.

On February 8, Palekar was requested to stick to the topic when after praising the efforts that went into putting together the exhibit of Barwe's works for the first time since his death in 1995, he began to criticise the ministry of culture for reducing the gallery space at NGMA, Mumbai, substantially as well as for allegedly scrapping the advisory committees at the gallery's Mumbai and Bengaluru centres. Their terms have ended recently (Mumbai and Bengaluru committee terms ended on November 15, 2018, and of Delhi on January 17, 2019). He said those decisions will be taken from Delhi by the Ministry of Culture. "NGMA is deliberating on suggestions received from artists, and a final decision will be taken shortly in consultation with all stakeholders", he said. A retrospective is an exhibition or compilation of an artist's work, showing his/her evolution over a period of time.