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Art should be outside the purview of politics: Vidya Balan on Mersal controversy 

Recently appointed CBFC board member and actor, Vidya spoke on Tamil Nadu BJP chief’s demand to remove lines criticising the political party's policies. 

Suparna Thombare

In a recent interview to channel CNN-News18, Vidya Balan, who has recently been appointed to the position of a board member in the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), was asked to comment on the controversy surrounding Vijay and Kajal Aggarwal-starrer Tamil film Mersal, which criticised certain policies of the BJP government. 

The actress said that films should be kept separate from the state. “Art should be outside the purview of any political considerations. I have to be very careful about what I say... because I value my position as a CBFC member,” says Vidya. “Having said that I really think that there is a board to do its job. And in a democracy we shouldn’t be... a film is someone’s imagination or interpretation and it should be allowed to be that.”

Directed by Atlee Kumar, the film has a scene where the lead actor Vijay is seen heaping some harsh criticism on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) implemented by the BJP government in July this year. 

In the scene Vijay questions why a state that charges 28% GST is unable to provide free quality medical care to its citizens while a small country like Singapore, which charges a mere 7% GST, is able to do so.

The day after Mersal was released, Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamizhisai Soundararajan demanded that the producers delete the dialogues related to GST and Digital India, despite the earlier clearance by the CBFC. 

Vidya joined the CBFC board recently after being approached by I&B (Information and Broadcasting) minister Smriti Irani. Speaking about why she decided to be a part of the board, Vidya said, “We’ve all been on the other side. We’ve all very openly criticised the way things were happening. I said to myself if I want to be part of the change then this is my opportunity to at least give it a shot.”