Recently, at the Times Lit. Fest 2017, Shabana Azmi spoke on these many questions and raised pertinent points on how nationalism and art have different meanings for different people. "We need to understand that there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism. Although the two tend to overlap at some point. Patriotism concerns itself with the lives of people in this geographical entity and concerns itself with improving their lot and so can be critical. You can continue to be very patriotic and still be critical of certain things happening in your society."
"If you say that girls are being buried alive, it's not because you are being unpatriotic, it is because you love your country so much that you want to say that this is a wrong that shouldn't happen."
On nationalism, the actor said, "what we are seeing now is hyper-nationalism and it is alarming. It has always existed, but culture and art become the first that get attacked. Because a country's self is defined by its culture and so there have been consistent attacks. Criticism, dissent and to say that you disagree completely with notions is all fine. What is not fine is threats of death, dismembering people, burning women alive as is being done with Deepika Padukone. As an actress, as her colleague, as a member of the film industry, I think it has never been as bad as it is today".
She further explained the meaning of art for her and the value nationalism and society adds to it.
"My father was not only a member of the Communist Party but he was also a member of the Progressive Writers Association. And the values that were dear to him were those of social justice, gender equality, raising their voices equality and so on. So, I grew up in that kind of atmosphere, but I don't think that is the only purpose of art. I think to each their own, so for some art serves the purpose of pure entertainment, for others it is a reflection of society and for many, it can be an instrument of social change.
But I do think that to qualify as art, it has to be away from propaganda.
And for some, it can be a reflection of communicating ideas that generate discussions and try to bring clarity to vague issues. But I do think that to qualify as art, it has to be away from propaganda. So even if you have a political thing to say, it should come from a language which is different from saying it on a pulpit."
Azmi clearly defined the meanings of nationalism, patriotism, art and hyper-nationalism in her talk. This is significant for people to understand to become tolerant to art.
Padmavati, the upcoming movie, is currently getting flak from a fringe section called Karni Sena for allegedly showing a Rajput Queen the way Padukone has portrayed her in the trailer for the film. There is also an ongoing debate on the historical authenticity of the character of the protagonist.
Picture By: Women Pla.net