READ: FTII Protest: Dibakar Banerjee and nine others return their National Award
In a letter addressed to the President of India and the prime minister 11 other artistes who had joined Dibakar in returning their awards, wrote, "It is not just artists and writers and filmmakers who are angry at what is going on; even the common people are disgusted and afraid at the sheer impunity of those who indulge in communal violence." However, it now transpires that the national award won by 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' was not Dibakar's to give away. The film won the 'Best Feature Film in Hindi award', and as such the honour went to the film's producer and not Dibakar.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror on Tuesday, Hiremath said she was taken aback when she saw Dibakar with other filmmakers talking about returning their awards. "When I confronted him, he apologised," she said.
Making it clear that she treasures the national award 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' won, Hiremath said, "People work for this honour all their lives, we were lucky to receive it for our first film. Why would I give up something so dear for a cause which seems politically motivated? I don't see anything having gone drastically wrong with the country in the last year-and-a-half. If anything, the protests by a particular group are only maligning India's image," she said. Dibakar, meanwhile, maintained that he returned a medal and some cash he had received as part of the national award. "It is a personal act and has nothing to do with anyone else's contribution. I am merely returning my share, my credit, my name," he said.
Admitting that that he had apologised to Savita for the hurt he had caused her, Dibakar said, "Protests always bring pain, but that's not going to make me step back from a core issue." Asked why did not return the national award he received for his other hit 'Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye', Dibakar said such "mathematical" questions had not crossed his mind. "I did not think -`why Khosla, why not Lucky' -when I raised the issue," he said.
Hiremath, however, is not convinced. She believes that Dibakar made the choice because 'Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye' belonged to a bigger production house. Hiremath said Dibakar used the opportunity to draw "media attention."
Dibakar retorted, "I am not on any social media. I have no political clout. I protested with the only weapon I have since the national award is linked to my reputation as a filmmaker.If I had tweeted or posted on Facebook, it would have reached some places. But by coming together with 11 other filmmakers returning their national awards, I drew the attention of the entire country. My conscience is clear."
Hiremath said she is in the process of Raju Shinde announcing four new projects, including a sequel to 'Khosla Ka Ghosla'. She said Dibakar would be her first choice to direct the sequel.