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Zoya Akhtar: Would have given up national award if I had it

Bollywood director Zoya Akhtar said that if she had a national award to her credit she would have returned it given the current atmosphere in the country. 

Zoya Akhtar
Zoya Akhtar

"If I had the national award, I would have returned it. It is a peaceful way of saying things, expressing things. I support them," Zoya said on the sidelines of Mumbai Festival here tonight. Actress Kalki Koechlin said it was a brave act for artists. "It is an important statement that people are making about the situation (returning of national awards). It is a brave act for artist to do (sic)," she said.

When asked about filmmakers returning the national awards in protest against "growing intolerance in the country", superstar Salman Khan said, "Sad (dukh) phase is going on. I am here for MAMI festival and I would not like to get into things which would turn other way or interpreted in another way."

When their reaction is sought, actors Riteish Deshmukh and Jackie Shroff and filmmaker Sudhir Mishra parried the query whether they will support the act of filmmakers returning their awards and merely said that everyone has right to express their opinion.

"We are in a democratic country like India and if one is upset with anything one can go and say what they don't like. Every person has the opportunity to believe and say what they want," Riteish said. Jackie said, "We live in a democratic country and everyone has the right to express things. Everyone has the freedom of expression and speech. People have their own way of expressing things."

A string of filmmakers including big names like Anand Patwardhan and Kundan Shah of "Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro" fame have returned their awards over "growing intolerance". "People have the right to express things. If one is unhappy he has the right to express things. One should listen to them. It is not necessary that one must agree to it. One should not be afraid of the reaction (sic)," Mishra said.

However, actress Esha Gupta feels that returning of awards is not right. "I think it is not right to do it. Why bring creativity and art between politics," Esha asked. Filmmakers like Dibakar Banerjee, Paresh Kamdar, Nishtha Jain, and others have announced their decision to return their national awards over the unresolved issue concerning the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) and the rising intolerance in the country.

FTII students had gone on an indefinite strike from June 12 following the appointment of television actor and BJP member Gajendra Chauhan as president of the FTII Society. However, Bollywood is divided on returning the awards. Actors Vidya Balan, Anupam Kher, Supriya Pathak and others are not in favour of returning the award.

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