India's celebrities confront Hindu nationalism
The list of 49 included prominent filmmakers Aparna Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Anurag Kashyap, Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal and other celebrated artistes like Shubha Mudgal (singer), Revathy (filmmaker and actress), Ramachandra Guha (historian), Soumitra Chatterjee (actor), Konkona Sen Sharma (actress), Rupam Islam (songwriter) and more. It was possibly the first time that names from the Indian art and culture industry had intervened in the nation’s political framework. By contrast, interference in Indian culture by politicians has become the norm.
India is famous for its rich cultural heritage and evocative art. With names like Satyajit Ray and Mira Nair in films, Raja Ravi Varma, Amrita Sher-Gil and M. F. Husain in painting, Ravi Shankar and A. R. Rahman in music, Raghubir Singh in photography, and of course, Mirza Ghalib, Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu in literature and poetry, India has always had global representation in every field of art and culture.
Growing political interference
India’s cultural industry has also remained fairly free since 1947, when India became an independent nation. The banning of certain works such as Salman Rushdie’s book "The Satanic Verses" and Rakesh Sharma’s documentary, "The Final Solution", can be attributed to their controversial nature or likeliness to instil communal tension in society. It would be fair to say that political interference in culture in India is a new development.
In February 2019, Amol Palekar, renowned actor and director, was rudely censored. He stood at the podium delivering a speech on artist Prabhakar Barwe’s exhibition ‘Inside an Empty Box’ at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai.