Amol Palekar heckled for raising concerns over censorship at NGMA

Amol Palekar

Mumbai, Feb 10: Renowned actor-director Amol Palekar was repeatedly heckled and interrupted during his speech when he raised concerns over “censorship” at the opening of an exhibition at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai.

When Amol Palekar started criticised the Ministry of Culture for disbanding the advisory committees of the art gallery at Mumbai and Bengaluru centres,he was forced to terminate his speech prematurely due to NGMA Director’s repeated interruption.

Palekar expressed his concern over policy changes that will give the Ministry of Culture at the Centre the sole right to decide the contents and themes of exhibitions to be held at the NGMA in Mumbai and Bengaluru. Until October last year, these decisions involved the local artistes’ advisory committees, which were reconstituted every three years.

He said, “This control over the NGMA, which is the sacrosanct venue for artistic expression and viewing of diverse art, is the recent most casualty in this ‘war against humanities’ as someone recently put it! I am truly disturbed….What is more upsetting is that those privy to such unilateral orders did not speak out, protest or even question it.”

His speech was cut short by the curator of the show and ex-committee member Suhas Bahulikar and NGMA director Anita Rupavataram.

When show curator Jesal Thacker interrupted him, Palekar reminded how writer Nayantara Sahgal’s invitation to attend a Marathi literary event was withdrawn because her speech was critical of the current political environment.

NGMA, until October 2018, had an active advisory committee comprising of local artists which decided which exhibitions to hold at its Bengaluru and Mumbai centres, but these decisions are now being handled by the Culture Ministry, Palekar said.

The decision to dissolve the three-member committee was reportedly taken by the Culture Ministry. Palekar was heckled and ordered to cut his speech short after he criticised the decision to dissolve the committee.

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