Speaking at the inauguration of the 28th Kolkata International Film Festival, actor Amitabh Bachchan spoke at length on cinema and censorship. “Even now questions are being raised on civil liberties and freedom of expression,” the 80-year-old actor said.
Talking about how subjects have been varied in Indian cinema from mythological films to the “current brand of historical couched in fictionalised jingoism and moral policing”, he argued the range has kept audience reflecting on politics and social issues.
Referring to the films of Satyajit Ray, Bachchan said, “His cinema, ladies and gentleman is a reflection of the dreams, aspirations, struggles, angst, challenges and corrosiveness of India’s plurality. One of his later films, Ganashatru in 1990, can be taken as an indication of how Ray may have reacted to current times. In this chamber drama, about a jaundice epidemic caused by water contamination that is suppressed by both the state and the local temple, Dr Ashok Gupta [the protagonist] becomes the enemy of the people, fighting for justice,” he said.
Watch his full speech here (from the 1-hour-39-minute mark).