Nagpur: An actor of India’s official entry to the Best Foreign Language film category of the 2016 Academy Awards “Court”, Vira Sathidar, said on Saturday he was still being hounded by police for his links with Maoists.
It is the first film for activist-turned-actor.
‘Court’, directed by Chaitanya Tamhane, is about country’s creaking judicial system. It depicts the trial of a folk singer accused of sedition.
Sathidar plays the lead role as Narayan Kamble. Sathidar has been under police scanner for allegedly having links with the banned Maoist group. In an interview, Sathidar admitted that he was influenced by Maoist movements.
“During my youth, when I saw the Dalit and Maoist movements, I was influenced by the movement like many other youth. I used to write poems, songs and sing them and also take part in the movements and deliver speeches. There are lots of similarities in my real and reel life that I have played as Narayan Kamble in the film,” he said.
The Maoists, also known as ‘Naxals’ in India, seek the violent overthrow of the Indian state and have fought authorities for decades, particularly in rural areas of central and eastern India where they enjoy some support.
The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of peasants and landless labourers. Sathidar said he continued to be hounded by police and intelligence officials.
“Many a time, police have raided my house and even seized my books. Police have also tried to book me under many fake cases. Even after being an actor of the film awarded national film award and now my film has also been nominated for Oscar, police still come to my house and enquire. Even intelligence bureau has come to my house,” he said.
He was booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, police filed a closure report in the case
Sathidar is also the editor of ‘Vidrohi’(Rebel), a bi-monthly magazine. His close aide Sudhir Dhawale, also an editor of the magazine, was arrested by the state police for his alleged Maoist links.
‘Court’, a film with dialogue in Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi and English languages, features several amateur actors and was directed on a shoestring budget.
The film won India’s national film award this year and writer-director Tamhane picked up the Lion of the Future award for debut films at the 2014 Venice Film Festival.
An Indian film has never won the best foreign film Oscar, but ‘Lagaan’, ‘Salaam Bombay’ and ‘Mother India’ were shortlisted for the award. ‘Lagaan’ (2001) was the last to make the cut.