Iterating that India has always celebrated pluralism and composite culture, veteran actress Shabana Azmi on Friday declared that any attempt to curb freedom of expression “will be resisted and must be resisted”.
In her speech at the closing ceremony of the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival, Shabana said, “Plularism and composite culture is something India has always celebrated.. We in India know that India’s Constitution guarantees this as a matter of right. And so it is a proud privilege for us that India celebrates her diversity and India celebrates her inclusiveness.”
Azmi, who is now working in a series by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, said the caste and crew in the production represents a microcosm of the world itself “because it embraces people from different nationalities, different cultures”.
Describing cinema as the focal point of the diversity, Azmi said it is important to recognize cultures in terms of their own paradigm, rather than as yardsticks imposed by the west on the east.
“And this becomes most evident when we see the cinema, and we understand that films have the power to open a window in which we learn about other cultures. And that is why cinema towers above all other art forms.”
Azmi said she was raised in a family that believed art should be used as an instrument of social change.
“I believe cinema has the ability to create a climate of sensitivity in which it is possible for change to occur. For this to happen, artists must be given freedom of expression. The purpose of art is not only to create, but also to provoke, and to start conversations on subjects considered taboo by society. Cinema is a mirror to society.”
Azmi concluded saying, “Any attempt to curb to freedom of expression will be resisted and must be resisted.”