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Scary time for artists, writers: Nandita Das

Kolkata: Actor-filmmaker Nandita Das has described the current situation in the country as a "scary time for artists and writers" as things that could be done in films and art earlier cannot be done now. She feels it is time to become more responsible.
"I do not know if I could do a 'Firaaq' (2008) or act in a film like 'Fire' (1996) today and if these films would ever be made now. There was an episode on 'Padmavati' in 'Bharat Ek Khoj' that Shyam Benegal did many years ago. Things that we could do then... and we had our ways to agree or disagree," Das said at the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary Festival here on Wednesday.
"It is a scary time for artists, for writers but it is also a time for us to be more responsible and at least self censor ourselves before something happens. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is such that a lot of things are happening out of certain sense of fear," she said.
Das rued that some sections of the society are still resorting to violence even after social media has increased the scope for dissent and freedom of expression for everyone.
"We do not have to like every film. Now there are more platforms for voicing one's dissent. The social media has democratised the whole thing. So all of us can now find some way to do it and despite that, we are resorting to such violence. Even if it is a handful of people, the fact is that the handful seems to grow," she said.
Talking about her upcoming film "Manto", based on the life of writer Saadat Hasan Manto during the time of partition (1946-50), Das said she was driven by the content and wanted to tell people about the nuances of the writer's fascinating persona.
"When I decided to tell the story (of 'Manto') I did not consider whether it would be cinematic or not. I was more driven by the content. I was driven by what I wanted to say and which things about 'Manto', I wanted to share with everyone," Das explained.
"We tried to assimilate all the nuances and trivia I gathered about Manto in the film as much as possible. I tried to keep my version of Manto very intimate, very much like his own stories and also tried to weave a story on the life of this great storyteller," she added.

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