Prasoon Joshi, the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) said that he will not attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. Joshi was expected to address a session on Sunday. In a statement released by the Jaipur Literature Festival organisers, Prasoon Joshi said, “Will not be attending JLF this year and must say will miss sharing great moments with literature and poetry lovers. I am doing this so that the dignity of the event does not get compromised or discomfort caused either to the organisers, fellow writers or the attendees. And also so that the lovers of literature get to focus on creativity and not controversy.”
His decision not to attend the Literature Festival comes in the wake of threats by the Sri Rajput Karni Sena to Prasoon Joshi. The fringe group has gone on a rampage across many states in north India after the CBFC cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s “Padmaavat” for release. CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi said, “I did my job and sincerely took a sensitive and balanced call. Certification was done with due processes, incorporating valid suggestions whilst staying mindful of concerns of society&cinema.Sad that we are not relying on genuine peaceful dialogue.”
The CBFC chairperson was expected to participate in a session titled “Main aur Woh: Conversations with Myself”. The fringe group Karni Sena had said it would not allow Joshi to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Meanwhile, the current situation and protests even turning violent in some areas of Rajasthan, the state government had decided to give security cover to Prasoon Joshi if he decided to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival. The security given to Prasoon Joshi would have been of ‘Z’ level.
Joshi is a famous lyricist, screenwriter and poet. Prasoon Joshi received the Filmfare Best Lyricist Award three times and has received the National Film Award for Best Lyrics twice, for his work in Taare Zameen Par and Chittagong. He was awarded the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian award, in 2015, for his contribution in the field of Arts, Literature and Advertising.
However, it should be noted that this is not the first time that a speaker has decided to stay away from the festival in view of threats by fringe groups. In 2012, acclaimed novelist Salman Rushdie had not attended the festival in view of security threats against him as hundreds of Muslim activists appeared in Diggi Palace, stating that they would not let Rushdie appear nor allow a video footage to be played.