Pune (Maharashtra), Dec 13 (IANS) After a massive furore in theatre, films and creative circles, a Pune-based organisation has withdrawn its two-day old ‘diktat’ banning college students from depicting ‘sensitive topics’ at its mega theatre competition in February, a top organiser said here on Friday.
On Wednesday (December 11), the Firodiya Karandak, one of the reputed state-level inter-college theatre competition-cum-festival organisers issued a decree, restricting students from any performances based on nearly three-dozen contemporary topics.
These included: communal subjects, topics pertaining to Hindu-Muslims, castes, Jammu & Kashmir, Article 370-35A revocation, the Ayodhya verdict, Babri Mosque or Ram Mandir, themes centering around India-Pakistan relations, etc.
Plays around such topics would also not be eligible for the final competitive rounds of the festival, it was indicated.
This sparked a huge uproar among artistes, the theatre world, film fraternity and other creative fields who termed the controversial edict as an attempt to curb freedom of expression at the prestigious 45-year old annual competitive stage festival.
“It has been misunderstood and resulted in this unnecessary debate. We have withdrawn the new regulations today and the competitive festival will proceed as in the past,” the Trustee of Socio Economic Development Trust, Swapnabhumi, and the founder-patriarch of Firodiya Karandak, Suryakant Kulkarni told IANS.
Kulkarni admitted that this is the first time in its history that the SEDT’s Firodiya Karandak had issued such directions for its theatre competitive festival.
“This is because, in the final competition last year, all the topics happened to be centred around Hindu-Muslim issues or communal themes. We wanted the young students to tackle more and wide-ranging subjects instead of limiting their creativity to a couple of topics only,” Kulkarni explained.
Earlier, the competition’s chief organiser informed the local media that the participants at these competitions are young, lack sufficient or indepth knowledge of such serious issues and may fail to gauge the consequences of their creative depictions.
Both claimed their honest intentions were to avoid triggering “any potential law and order situation” in a creative atmosphere and not intended to curb creativity in any manner, besides inspiring the students to think “beyond” only sensitive or communal themes.
While withdrawing its contentious notification, the Firodiya Karandak has said it will be mandatory as usual to get all the scripts cleared by the Censor Board before it will be permitted for stage presentation.
A prominent script-writer, who pens on multiple themes since the past few years said that the organisers were apparently under pressure from certain groups given the current political atmosphere in the country.
“Contrary to the organiser’s contentions, many of the stage presentations have been extremely maturely handled and earned accolades from various quarters. Several top artistes in the theatre and film world have gone through this and similar festivals in the past,” the writer told IANS, requesting anonymity.
The competitive festival – often graced by top Bollywood and Marathi film personalities – has been considered a perfect arena for the young students and budding student theatre groups to express themselves freely, exercise full liberty to select topics of their interest and many a times even play the accompanying music live on stage.