Kolkata, June 19, Zee News,
The Calcutta High Court today quashed a criminal case against writer Sunil Gangopadhyay which was filed against him by a retired IPS officer for alleged obscene references to Hindu goddess of learning — "Saraswati".
Justice S P Talukdar quashed the criminal proceedings against Gangopadhyay as the mandatory sanction from the state government for filing a case for hurting religious sentiments was not taken by complainant Bibhuti Bhusan Nandi.
The Chief Judicial Magistrate of Alipore Court had directed the author to appear before his court on June 26, against which he filed a petition before the High Court praying for quashing of criminal proceedings against him.
Gangopadhyay had allegedly written about his adolescent fantasies on Goddess Saraswati in his novel "Ardhek Jibon" (Half Life).
The freedom song
[ Monday, June 19, 2006, TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]
Following the recent Sunil Gangopadhyay controversy, Zinia Sen checks out whether artistes are happy with their creative licence.
'Controversy is only dreaded by the advocates of error': Benjamin Rush
Bold as our creative geniuses are, they seem to be in full support of this view, so much so that it's difficult to dig out between controversy and creativity, who's courting who.
Of late, writer Sunil Gangopadhyay has again hit headlines for 'expressing'his carnal desire for Saraswati's (the Hindu goddess of learning) female form in Ardhek Jibon.
This has hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus. And Gangopadhyay has rightly moved HC challenging the summons issued by Alipore chief judicial magistrate.
The question here is, are our writers and artists not happy with the creative license they enjoy? Do they need more freedom of expression?
Gangopadhyay reacts saying, "Writers, in reality, do not have the creative license since readers are always trying to harass the author if something is not to their liking. If people don't like a piece they have the right to reject it. Where's the need to lodge a complaint? A long time back a similar controversy arose when my novel Pratidwandi was filmed by Satyajit Ray. There I had depicted how a poor nurse used to entertain men for some moolah. Nurses across the city protested for no reason. As an author I have the freedom to express what I feel."
Though Gangopadhyay is cribbing for more freedom of expression, artists and authors across the state opine that they need no more of the same.
They feel that as artists, they have responsibilities towards the masses. Buddhadeb Guha claims that it was not right on Gangopadhyay's part to have described how he was aroused by an idol of the goddess and had fondled the clay image for gratification.
"I don't support such cheap gimmicks. An author should set an example for the younger generations. If an author thinks it's cool to say that he loves to booze and enjoys going to Sonagachhi, then this only speaks poorly of him.
Gangopadhyay's case is no better. In the name of creative license one cannot hurt the religious sentiments of people. A sensitive thing can also be ethically described like Tagore did in one of his poems when he said 'Bikoshito stan duti aguliya roy'. An author needs to understand what's ethical and what's not."
Considering how nearly a decade ago painter Husain was compelled to withdraw one of his artistic works from public viewing — a Saraswati in the nude that created a furore across the country, artists of Kolkata lash out. Wasim Kapoor quips, "We have enough freedom of expression and what we need to understand is human sentiment. I have never painted anything that has any religious connotation."
Artist Samir Aich also opines that in the name of creative license one cannot afford to exploit people's sentiments. "If someone deliberately digs out pornographic meanings from things far more simpler, then people have the right to protest. I feel Husain's calibre as an artist is questionable. He's no better than an illustrator.
Artists have the independence but it's up to him not to go overboard with something far too vulgar. We don't need more freedom than what we enjoy."Who said creativity and understanding are inversely proportional?