Amol Palekar reportedly said he was hurt after being interrupted while addressing a gathering at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) in Mumbai on Friday evening.
At a press conference in Pune on Sunday, Palekar, who got wife, screenwriter Sandhya Gokhale as ‘witness’ to the incident, was quoted as saying, “The director was present there and she even said that I should have spoken to her before speaking this here. I even replied whether my script would be censored before I speak.”
“I even told them that I wanted to thank Ministry of Culture for the magnanimity of culture for showing this exhibition. She said she doesn't want any backhand compliment like this and left.”
The veteran said that it was not right on the part of the curator Jesal Thacker to interrupt him. He also rejected the question of impropriety, regarding sticking to artist Prabhakar Barwe, whose retrospective was being launched at the event.
“If it’s a question of impropriety, you have invited someone, you should have informed them beforehand. There was no such instruction. The curator Jesal Thacker also said, 'I have not given him any such instruction,' so there’s no question of propriety. I was talking about the changes made at the NGMA. The event was being held at the NGMA and I was talking about it, I cannot understand how it is impropriety,” Palekar said.
The ‘Golmaal’ actor’s grouse is that two other retrospectives of famous artists including one of Sudhir Patwardhan were cancelled after a new policy was created following the appointment of a new director.
“I was told that the Prabhakar Barwe retrospective is probably the last retrospective in the premises, that’s why I wanted to speak about it. When I inquired, it got confirmed that it was the last retrospective in the premises where five floors are used, so beautiful which we all should see. After the new director came in and a new policy, it was decided only four floors would be used for the paintings owned by MGMA. This left the new filmmakers and artistes with only the last floor for their exhibitions. ”
Palekar called the advisory committee’s decision to scrap the other two retrospectives as ‘shocking’ for people who are artistically inclined like him.
The video of Palekar being ‘heckled’ went viral on social media. He is interrupted when he starts to talk about a ‘disastrous decision’ by the committee.
Before that, he was quoted as saying, "Many of you may not know that this retrospective will be the last show decided by the advisory committee of local artists and not by some bureaucrat or an agent of the government with an agenda of either moral policing or proliferation of certain art commensurate with an ideological incline.
"As of November 13, 2018, the artistes' advisory committees at both regional centres Mumbai and Bangalore -- have been abolished, is what I have learnt," he said.
He added that he was "in the process of verifying the hearsay".
Thacker interuppts, "This is not needed at the moment, sorry... The function is about Prabhakar Barwe, please stick to that."
He replies, “I am relating it to Prabhakar Barwe.”
When further stalled, he says, “Are you asking me not to speak? You have invited me to speak.”
He then mentions that writer Nayantara Sahgal was invited to speak at the Marathi literary convention recently, but at the last minute the invitation was withdrawn because what she was going to say "was slightly critical of the situation around us."
"Are we creating the same situation here?" he asked.
Later, another NGMA member takes to the microphone, and says, “You should appreciate that this is the National Gallery of Modern Art, a Government gallery.”
Palekar says, “What I was not allowed to read out, I was thanking the Ministry of Culture for this magnanimity (referring to the latest retrospective).”
The woman responds, “I don’t take this back-handed compliment at all sir, thank you.”
Watch the video here: