Actor Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday underscored the issues of free speech and censorship in the film industry, while Shah Rukh Khan said that the use of social media tends to limit human nature to its “baser self”, ANI reported.

The actors made the remarks while addressing the audience at the 28th International Kolkata Film Festival.

“The 1952 Cinematograph Act set out the structure of censorship as it stands today upheld by the film certification board,” Bachchan said. “But even now, ladies and gentlemen – and I am sure my colleagues on stage will agree–questions are being raised on civil liberties and freedom of expression.”

Khan, in his speech, was critical of the role that social media plays in society.

His statements came amid a social media campaign calling for the boycott of his upcoming film Pathaan.

“I read somewhere – negativity increases social media consumption...Such pursuits enclose collective narrative, making it divisive and destructive,” he said.

Khan said he is very happy with social activities returning to normal with the reduction in Covid-19 cases. “I have absolutely no problem in saying that no matter what the world does, people like us will stay positive,” he asserted.

Khan also said that cinema is a means for people from “different colours, castes and religions” to understand each other better, PTI reported. “Cinema is the best place to sustain a counter-narrative that speaks to the larger nature of humankind,” he said.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that Bachchan should be honoured with the country’s highest civilian award for his contribution to Indian cinema.

“Although not officially, but from Bengal, we will raise this demand to honour Amitabh Bachchan with the Bharat Ratna award for his contribution to Indian cinema for such a long time,” Banerjee said.

Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt said that it is not in keeping with the spirit of India to reject any race or culture. “It has to be our highest aim to comprehend all things as they are with sympathy and love,” he said. “It’s the spirit of India.”