Considering Cinema as the topmost cultural ambassador “is to look at India myopically”, said Union Minister Smriti Irani during an interview with Republic’s Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami at the Rashtra Sarvopari Sammelan. The minister said that India’s accomplishments in academics, science, art and delicacies are the real ambassadors instead of cinema.
‘To consider cinema as the only cultural embassy of India is to see the country myopically,’ says @smritiirani. Tune in to watch her speak to Arnab #LIVE at the #RashtraSarvopariSammelan here – https://t.co/dZZNJvJ09D pic.twitter.com/g9mv91Qa6J
“You should not popularise this misconception that cinema’s objective is nationalism. Cinema’s only job is to search for profit. I have been in this business, do not feed this misconception”, Irani said. “Will the people not respect the tricolour if cinema is not there, Will we not sing Saare Jahan Se Acha if cinema is not there?”, she further questioned.
Advising that one should not define India’s culture within the constraints of cinema, Irani recalled Swami Vivekananda’s speech in Chicago at the World’s Parliament of Religions in 1893.
“Swami Vivekananda’s address is bigger than any cinema. When you talk about Kashmir, why just a film, why don’t we talk about Lal Ded (the poet)”, she said.
“We are a civilisation with many traits that can be celebrated the world over. We are talking about economic policies nowadays, can cinema be a contributor to that? No”.
Irani further stated that summarising India’s culture to cinema is an insult to culture itself. Adding that she has no ill will against cinema or sports, which are considered a source of unity, she said that we should perceive things through the lens of cultural nationalism. For instance, over 18,000 dialects spoken in our country also make for a perfect example of cultural ambassadors.
“In every district, there is a different lifestyle, and difference in eating habits. PM Modi says ‘Ek Bharat, Shrestha Bharat’, these are the things we should project before the world”, she added.