Read Vikram Bhatt's open letter to the Prime Minister

17th February 2017

Writing open letters is a common phenomena nowadays as it is considered to be the best medium to express your views. Many actors from the film fraternity often write open letter about certain issues in the society. Recently popular actor Rana Daggubati wrote a letter after his meeting with the naval officers. Now filmmaker Vikram Bhatt has written an open letter to the Prime Minister of India sharing his nightmares of a dream-seller.

His letter reads:

Respected Mr. Prime Minister Sir,

Please accept my greetings and salutations.

At the onset please allow me to applaud everything that you have done and continue to do for the country. I am a citizen who remains apolitical but not ungrateful. I believe that as a leader you are one above the rest, one who can walk his talk and deliver on his promises.

Sir, I am a filmmaker from Mumbai. I am not a part of any organization and though being a member of the Producer's Guild, not a part of any of the Guild committees, all in all a seller of dreams trying to sell his wares.

I however, write to you to share with you the nightmares of a dream seller. Sir, I don't have any means to see you or communicate with you, other than this letter. I am also not the chosen representative of the film fraternity but I take it upon myself to write this letter because of a story I read as a child.

A tiny sparrow flew towards a burning forest with a bit of water in its beak to douse the flames. The other animals in the forest laughed at the sparrow and teased. How would a mere beak-full douse such a huge inferno? "I am doing my bit," answered the sparrow. "After all that's all I can do." So here I am doing my bit.

Sir, for too long I have seen my fraternity at the receiving end of regulations that only apply to the filmmaker but no one else other than the filmmaker.

Smoking is bad I agree, smoking should not be advertised, I agree and smoking should be condemned I agree. But here is my point Sir, I have roamed far and wide and find that ours is perhaps one of the few countries in the world where one gets cigarettes without a packet or "Chutha Cigarrettes" as they are called. When buying a cigarette is easier than anywhere else in the world, when smoking a cigarette is easier than anywhere else in the world, why is depicting a smoker more difficult than anywhere else in the world?

Animals should be treated right, I agree. Cruelty against animals should be prevented in everyway I agree. But why are the animals in the zoo then in such piteous conditions? We have horse rides available for children, poaching is rampant, bovine creatures uncared for roam the streets, the snake charmer still has snakes locked away in his boxes and the poor monkey is still strung up by his owner to regale anyone who wants to watch. And yet Sir, you might be shocked to know that in a film even if a creature is computer generated we need to furnish the proof of it.

When it comes to the history of this country why does it belong to everyone but to the filmmaker? When it comes to the honor of the country, why are we the first to be looked at with a suspicious eye?

I do agree that films have an impact and what we depict has to be with responsibility. Yet, is this thing called responsibility only reserved for the entertainment givers? Does it tantamount to living without rules but dreaming with caution?

While we agree that there should be laws for us, should there not be laws for everyone who is dealing with same subject matter albeit not on screen?I write to you because you are making change happen and I beg change. I don't want to be frightened anymore Sir. I am afraid that my house, my office or then my film set might be vandalized by someone who does not agree with my depiction of a certain story. I am even more afraid that no one will be arrested for it and if someone were to be arrested he or she would be allowed to roam free soon enough. Sir, can we have a law that saves us and penalizes them?

I am frightened Sir that I might cast a persona non grata by error and face the ire of a group who might want me to junk my investment because I had sinned. Can we have a law that does not allow anyone to illegally stop the release of my film once it has been censored Sir?

I am naïve Sir, not capable of thinking things through but my fear is real. I must quote the great Rabindranath Tagore for here lies a promise that remains to be lived.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held highWhere knowledge is freeWhere the world has not been broken up into fragmentsBy narrow domestic wallsWhere words come out from the depth of truthWhere tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfectionWhere the clear stream of reason has not lost its wayInto the dreary desert sand of dead habitWhere the mind is led forward by theeInto ever-widening thought and actionInto that heaven of freedom, Dear Sir, please help my country awake."

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