By Radhika Bhirani
New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, who was asked to remove a controversial song from his soon-to-be-released media-based film "Rann", says freedom in India is "remote-controlled" just like the country's democracy.
"There's a line in 'Rann' - 'Democracy is remote-controlled'. In the same way, I think freedom is also remote-controlled in India," Varma told IANS.
"No matter how much we like to hear the word 'freedom', I'm not sure how free we are. Obviously, if with freedom of expression you would harm anyone's sensibilities or feelings, you can't be very free, but on the flip side anybody can get up and say, 'This is offending me'. So where do you draw the line for that?"
Last year Varma faced the ire of many protesters and a ban on the song by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) after he showcased the first look of "Rann" with a tampered version of the national anthem titled "Jana gana mana rann hai".
Though he had to change the song to "Vande mataram", he still maintains that the original did not portray the national anthem in a bad light.
"I was not okay with taking it (the song) out. But it was better to take it out instead of fighting with the censors and delaying the process, so we replaced it with 'Vande mataram'. I did not change my mind (about the song), I was made to change my mind. Otherwise, the censors wouldn't have given the certificate," he said.
Releasing Jan 29, the film is primarily about the conflict between business and conscience in the electronic media these days. It features megastar Amitabh Bachchan along with Riteish Deshmukh, Gul Panag and Paresh Rawal.
At the beginning of the project, Varma had said that the film is his attempt to "expose the media". But now he says that the film is "not about media bashing".
" 'Rann' is not about media bashing at all. I've always said that the media exposes, and now I am exposing media. Now it is not necessarily about the bad things - I may be talking about the media's vulnerabilities, their compulsions and their greed - after all every human being is susceptible to situations and pressures and his own emotions.
"But media cannot be generalised. There are so many channels and so many people and all of them cannot be the same. But it is a fact that a powerful tool like that exists and if wrong people want to use it for whatever purpose, it can be very easy - that's just what I have represented in 'Rann'," he said.
Ramu, as he is fondly called, says he is expecting mixed reviews and reactions to his movie from media barons and journalists.
"Everyone is only speculating at the moment. Since they are unsure about what I have done in the film, they are speculating about it. I think whatever criticism has to come, it will be after the release. I think it will depend from person to person. One could agree with my ideas or disagree. I am actually expecting varied reactions," he said.