Lata Mangeshkar: “India has come a long way. Communication is now just a click away. Ironically, we were much closer-knit people when communication was far more difficult. There was time we would spend hours trying to reach a loved one on a trunk-call. Today a whatsapp message is difficult because we don’t have time. Azaadi ek soch hai jisse hum Bhaaratiya sahi terah se samajh nahin paye (Independence is a state of mind that we Indians have not understood correctly). Independence is not only about what we eat or wear or the right to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression is not a freedom to abuse those who do not agree with you. It is also about being liberated from prejudices and intolerance. Hamare desh mein abhimaanavtavaad bahot kam ho gayi hai (in our country humanism is on the wane). To me freedom is the right to be who I am and what I am without hurting the same rights of others. Vande Mataram.”
Shabana Azmi: “Freedom means everything to me. But I am deeply cognizant of the fact that With Freedom must come responsibility. It's not only about rights but also about duties.To uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution and embrace inclusion and diversity. I salute all those leaders and common people who paved the way so that we can walk freely. Threat of violence is a tool for pushing women from enjoying the freedoms that are rightfully theirs. We need to revisit notions of masculinity and question why it is about exercising power and rippling muscles. Why is energy not invested in compassion, respect and equality ? Farhan Akhtar's MARD is doing precisely that and I am very proud of him. At the end of the day all sections of society have to do some introspection and take responsibility for how at our end we can help transform a mindset that is misogynist.”
Farhan Akhtar: “To me freedom is the freedom to use my voice to influence mindsets and prejudices. It’s really not enough anymore to say one is here only to entertain and not reform society. That’s just an escapist attitude.The celebrity status comes with a responsibility. However, I really wouldn’t want to comment on what others do or should do. I can only speak for myself. To me, it is very important to be a socially responsible citizen while working in my various other capacities as actor, filmmaker and singer.It’s very important to try to be the best human being that one can be. That doesn’t mean you try to be or do things that you are not. Everyone makes mistakes. I am quite certain I’ve made my share of mistakes. But the important thing is to TRY and do the right thing. To remember that the public’s eyes are on us all the time. So try to be on your best behaviour as much as possible. One may not always succeed. But there is much to be said in favour of a sincere attempt to do the right thing.”
Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra: “To me, Freedom is a place where the mind is without fear. We need to grow out of patriotic jingoism and to stop looking at the other nation as the enemy. I never understood why the country had to be divided on the basis of demography. Tomorrow, we might have a separate Gorkhaland or a Jat-land because a lot of our people operate on a tribal mentality. I feel it’s time to build a highway among countries. Europe has fought so many wars. They have seen World War 1 and 2 and the holocaust. But now Europe stands as one nation with a single visa and a single currency. They’ve understood the value of peace ,cultural exchange and working together. I would never do a film that doesn’t express my thoughts, ideas and ideology. It is important for me to take my own conscience very seriously while making my films. I get very emotionally attached to the projects I do. To me Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6 and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag are part of a trilogy.They are very personal expressions. Rang De Basanti addressed the issue of corruption and the participation of the youth. Also, I am very close to the airforce and my college days in Delhi went into Rang De Basanti. It was not a new thought. But it was a true thought. And true thoughts are eternal. Delhi 6 encapsulates my childhood in Delhi. In the film I saw everything from a child’s viewpoint. There is nothing like a formula. There are just good and bad films. How wonderful to have films on so many sports heroes!
"The human angle must be explored . To me the point of connectivity with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was Milkhaji’s lost childhood. Whenever I see films about the World War 2 made by the Western filmmakers and how beautifully they’ve learnt the lessons of the holocaust I wonder why we don’t make the same kind of films on the Partition. In spirit, I find the Partition and the Holocaust to be similar.The biggest sufferers in these blood-baths are children. Somewhere Milkhaji’s story and its theme of suffering during the Partition connected with the entire global community. That’s why Carl Lewis reached out to Milkhaji after seeing the BMB. There are persecuted minorities and ethnic communities all over the world.”
Nawazuddin Siddiqui: “Freedom is the freedom from prejudices. Freedom from judging people by the colour of the skin or their religious beliefs. Freedom is not only about any individual’s rights. The right to everyone’s freedom is equally important. If you are conscious of your freedom then you must value the freedom of others. Aapko agar apni azaadi pyari hai toh doosre logon ko bhi wohhaq honi chahiye. As an actor, I’ve exercised my freedom to express myself to the fullest. I am never shackled by the fear of playing a character which may damage my image because I don’t believe in an image. So, yes, my freedom of expression as an actor is not negotiable.”
Manoj Muntashir: “Even if there are chains of challenges wrapped up around our feet, we must not stop dancing... To me, that's true independence. We shouldn't confuse 'independence' with 'freedom', they are vastly different things. We are constitutionally free, but there can't be absolute independence till we depend on anyone and anything for our basic human rights. I'll celebrate independence wholeheartedly, when no child in my country will die from lack of oxygen. Jai Hind!”
Image source: SpotboyE archive