Amol Palekar: NGMA Issues 'Clarification', Says Committees Were Not Dissolved

Lawrence Kim
February 12, 2019

"Some artists have expressed their apprehensions about availability of less space for temporary exhibitions and retrospectives", it said.

On February 8, at the inaugural event of the exhibition named "Inside the Empty Box", organised in the memory of the renowned artist Prabhakar Barwe, Palekar, in prepared remarks, had spoken of the "loss of independence" in the art gallery's ways of functioning. "The NGMA is deliberating on suggestions received from artists, and a final decision will be taken shortly in consultation with all stakeholders", the statement said. M. Palekar, who was invited to speak at the inauguration of an exhibition of the works of the artist Prabhakar Barwe, chose to also speak about the decision of the Ministry of Culture to scrap advisory committees at the National Gallery's centres in Mumbai and Bengaluru.

Palekar, in his speech, said, "Recently, Nayantara Sehgal was invited to speak at an event and her invitation was withdrawn at the last minute since her speech was slightly critical of the current situation, we are living in". The new advisory committee will take a decision relating to future exhibitions, it said.

Although he alleged that censorship came on the directive of the government- he claimed that the exhibit curator Jesal Thacker told him later that she was instructed to ensure that nothing was spoken against the government- he clarified that his views were not targeted at any specific party but were, instead, directed at the establishment as a part of his fight against censorship. "However, when artists like Suhas Bahulkar and Jesal Thacker requested me to stop and interrupted my speech, I was shocked", said Palekar, adding none of the senior artists present in the audience interfered when his speech was interrupted several times.

"Are we creating the same situation here?" he asked.

A video of veteran actor Amol Palekar not being allowed to speak by an unidentified woman sitting on the podium has gone viral on social media platforms. This attitude, witnessed in bits and pieces during censorship issues over a couple of films, including Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmaavat, is now becoming a permanent trait of the Hindi film industry.

Amol Palekar and Sandhya Gokhale at the press conference in Pune on Sunday. "Nobody spoke for him, which is disappointing".

On the other hand, director of NGMA, Anita Rupavataram has assured that a new committee is being constituted soon and hence, she believes that the allegations directed towards NGMA are baseless. The propriety of what I said is being questioned now. "How and when these decisions were taken, we wanted to know". "As I was talking about NGMA at their own venue and (had been) invited by the gallery itself, how can it be improper?"

French poet Victor Hugo had once said, "Freedom in art, freedom in society, this is the double goal towards which all consistent and logical minds must strive".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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