Veteran actor Shabana Azmi on Friday said any effort to curb the freedom of expression of artists will have to be "vigorously" resisted, a view that found support from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Speaking on the concluding day of the 25th Kolkata International Film Festival here, Azmi said pluralism and composite culture is something that India has always celebrated, and guaranteed by the Constitution.
"Art should be used as an instrument of social change. I believe cinema has this ability and that can be possible if artists can be given freedom of expression," Azmi, who acted in several acclaimed films in her career spanning decades, said.
"The purpose of art is also to provoke and start conversations, on any subject considered taboo by the society. Any effort to curb freedom of expression will be resisted most vigorously," the 'Arth' actor said.
Azmi's observations were later endorsed by Banerjee, who, in her concluding address, also underscored the importance of safeguarding freedom of expression.
"In today's times, it is very much required. People's right to freedom of expression cannot be taken away... Our Constitution safeguards democratic rights and this can never be taken away," the chief minister said.
The actor also quoted an Urdu couplet penned by her father, Kaifi Azmi, and added: "Roughly translated it means - you wil be greeted with storms when you make attempts to suffocate protest."
Stating that cinema, as an art form, mirrors life, Banerjee asserted that her government has always stood for the freedom of artists.
"Kolkata is the sweetest part of the world, where people belonging to every cast, creed and religion live together. Kolkata is the place of humanity," Banerjee said.
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