Ranjan Palit Returns the National Award “As a Slap in the Face of the Government”
5th November, Kolkata: Documentary filmmaker Ranjan Palit who has also been the cinematographer of the extremely insightful and important documentary Red Ant Dream has returned his National Film Award along with 23 filmmakers from all across the country, including Amitabh Chakraborty, another filmmaker belonging to the Kolkata film fraternity and Sanjay Kak, the director of Red Ant Dream.
His documentaries include Forever Young, Voices of Baliapali which he had co-directed with Vasudha Joshi and had won the National Award, and In Camera.
Palit and Chakraborty are the first ones from the Kolkata film fraternity who have returned their National Awards, voiced their outrage in public statements, and joined the nation-wide Award Wapsi movement which is being spearheaded by the intellectuals of the country against the ‘growing intolerance’ of the Modi government towards its people.
He returned three of the four National Awards that he had won. Voicing his solidarity with the students of the ongoing movement of FTII against the “saffronization of education and the rising Fascism of the Narendra Modi government.” Palit curtly writes in a statement issued in New Delhi: “To me, returning the National Award is significant because it should come across as a slap in the face of the government. And there is no doubt that the current government under Narendra Modi needs to be slapped in the face.”
Here’s his statement in full:
In Nazi Germany, everybody looked the other way. We will be allowing a similar situation to develop in India if we do the same. Over the years, I have directed ten documentary films and worked as the cameraperson for around a hundred. I have received four National Awards (including one that I won jointly). I’m today returning three of the National Awards in protest. My empathy lies with the agitating students of the Film & Television Institute of India in Pune, where I was a student as well. For months, the students of FTII singlehandedly stood against the saffronization of education and the rising Fascism of the Narendra Modi government. The FTII students were among the first to protest and my solidarity is with them. To me, returning the National Award is significant because it should come across as a slap in the face of the government. And there is no doubt that the current government under Narendra Modi needs to be slapped in the face.
National Film Award, Best Cinematography / In the forest hangs a bridge 1999 / Kaya Poochhe Maya Se 2004
National Film Award, Best Voice Over / In Camera 2009