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India is Still Secular But It's Time to Speak Up, Says Nandita Das

  | November 29, 2015 11:52 IST (Panaji)
Nandita Das

This image was posted on Facebook by Nandita Das.

"We have to remember that there are a few people screaming out loud and they do not represent the whole country. I think the country is still secular. I think most people would want peace and are happy to co-exist with others who may be different from them in some way or another," said Nandita Das

Filmmaker Nandita Das said that India needs to take a stance to save the democracy from fading away amidst the growing number of protests.
"I don't think freedom of expression has ever been so threatened. It is something which is dangerous and the only way to counter it is to not be fearful. It is time to speak up. Nobody is isolated when more of us are speaking up," Nandita told IANS.
"My friends are asking me not to say too much. They are scared for my life. Why do I need to feel scared to speak my mind? I have not seen this level of fear before and I think we all have to come together and save this democracy that we have taken for granted," added Nandita.
Several celebrities have expressed their opinion on 'intolerance' in the country. After Shah Rukh, Aamir Khan was criticised when he said that his wife Kiran Rao had discussed about moving out of India due to growing intolerance in the country.(Also Read: Raju Hirani Explains Why Aamir Khan's Comments on 'Intolerance' Are 'Innocent')
Nandita feels that everything is not so grim and disappointing.
"We have to remember that there are a few people screaming out loud and they do not represent the whole country. I think the country is still secular. I think most people would want peace and are happy to co-exist with others who may be different from them in some way or another," said Nandita.
Nandita, who had faced protests regarding her films like Fire, said that the problem is not new, but has intensified with time.
"Sadly, we are self-censoring ourselves. In the last one year, things have become much worse. It is unbelievable that Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi are murdered in cold blood for defending free speech and rational thinking," said Nandita.
"I feel personally violated when MF Husain's paintings are vandalized or Tamil writer Perumal Murugan's book is banned. What is happening to this country? Every second day you are hearing something like this. Voices are being silenced. In a democracy, you need to have a space for dissent," added Nandita.
So how has the image of India changed internationally with the protests?
"They are shocked because they think ours is a very pluralist and diverse society. Although we are a developing country economically and culturally, we are rich. But by being so conservative and intolerant, we are telling the world that we are regressing and not progressing," said Nandita, who is busy with her next project based on the life of Pakistani short story writer Saadat Hasan Manto.
Nandita also said that the focus should be on painting an honest, instead of a good picture, on the global map.
"Every country has its good and bad. So, we need to be more honest while portraying country. I too have had my share of attacks over time during the release of Fire, while filming Water and while marketing Firaaq," added Nandita

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