Jaipur: Even as Central Board of Film Certification Chairperson Prasoon Joshi has decided to skip the ongoing Zee Jaipur Literature Festival in the wake of repeated threats to him by the Sri Rajput Karni Sena, he has sent out a strong message to the fringe group, preventing it from receiving the publicity it hoped for during a planned protest against his presence at the event.
CBFC Chief Prasoon Joshi To Skip JLF, Sends Out Strong Message To Citizens
At the same time, Joshi has also iterrated that the festival should focus on "creativity and not controversy".
Joshi's announcement comes at a time when the Sri Rajput Karni Sena, in gross defiance of the law, has gone on a rampage after the censor board cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Padmaavat" for release. Joshi was scheduled to participate in a session titled "Main aur Woh: Conversations with Myself" on Sunday.
"Will not be attending JLF this year and must say will miss sharing great moments with literature and poetry lovers," Joshi said in the statement, before highlighting that the reason he was "doing this" was to protect "the dignity of the event" and to ensure that the annual literary gathering "does not get compromised". Joshi also said that his absence will protect "the organisers, fellow writers or the attendees" from any "discomfort caused" to them. "And also so that the lovers of literature get to focus on creativity and not controversy," he said. The Sri Rajput Karni Sena had earlier said it would not allow Joshi to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival.
In the statement, Joshi also expressed his views on the controversy around "Padmaavat," contending that he did his his job sincerely and took a sensitive as well as a balanced call. He also highlighted that the "due process" was followed and "valid suggestions" were "incorporated" before giving a go-ahead to the Deepika Padukone starrer.
"The issue around the film "Padmaavat" -- I did my job and sincerely took a sensitive and balanced call. As I have said earlier, certification was done with due processes, incorporating valid suggestions whilst staying mindful to the concerns of the society as well as to the canvas of cinema," he contended.
Joshi lamented that "we are not relying on genuine peaceful dialogue" and impressed upon the importance to "keep mutual trust and faith in each other and our institutions so that the issues don't reach this far".
A noted lyricist, screenwriter and poet, Joshi has received the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award three times, in 2007 and 2008 and again in 2014 ("Bhaag Milkha Bhaag").
He has also received the National Film Award for Best Lyrics twice, for his work in "Taare Zameen Par"(2007), and "Chittagong" (2013). He was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian award, in 2015, for his contribution in the field of Arts, Literature and Advertising. This is not the first time that a speaker has decided to stay away from the festival in view of threats by fringe groups. In 2012, acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie had not attended the festival in view of security threats against him as hundreds of Muslim activists appeared in Diggi Palace, stating that they would not let Rushdie appear nor allow any video footage to be played. The organisers as well as the Jaipur police had made appropriate arrangements for security and had earlier assured that nothing untoward would take place at the festival.