Atul Kulkarni starrer ‘Azaad’ receives a standing ovation at UNESCO in Jakarta

Every year on the 3rd of May, UNESCO, the Government of Indonesia, and the Press Council of Indonesia co-organize and celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom; to evaluate press freedom around the world, and to defend the media from attacks on their independence in addition to paying tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the exercise of their profession.

 This year, ‘Azaad’, an Indian short filmstarring acclaimed actor Atul Kulkarni and directed by Rahul V Chittella,created history by becoming the first Indian film to be screened at theUNESCO’s “World Press Freedom Day” since its inception. The short film wasscreened at the prestigious platform, coinciding perfectly with the theme ofthis year which was: Media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusivesocieties. Apart from making its presence felt at the event, the film alsogarnered praises and received a standing ovation from the audiences, comprisingindustry stalwarts, thought leaders and journalists from around the globe.

Please findbelow some of the responses to the questions asked to the director ofAzaad-Rahul  V Chittella:

• Among allthe brilliant short films which talk about freedom of speech and theconsequences like Rohan Sippy's Prime Time or the short film 'Naked' thatreleased last year, your debut film got shortlisted at the UNESCO. How does itfeel?

- It feelsgreat! UNESCO organises the World Press Freedom Day every year and addresseskey issues re: freedom of expression. Its nice to reach out to a wide audienceand especially journalists from all across the globe with Azaad - which speaksof the hardships that fearless journalists or citizens face in current times.

• How hasthe journey been post -Azaad' success?

- The entireteam is just very happy that the film turned out to be an honest piece ofwork!! We are now working on our next film — a feature film that we’ve beendeveloping in Mirabai Films for sometime now. Antara and Naved will beproducing this.

• Do youfeel that the freedom of speech has been curbed when it comes to journalism? Doyou feel journalism might soon be a dying breed because of it?

Freedom ofexpression has always been attacked. It is just becoming disturbingly evidentnow. Its not just in the field of journalism, but in general, as a society, weare becoming more impatient. But, we must recognise this and take consciousefforts to not become like the other side.

• Anythingyou learned that changed your perception on journalism during your research onAzaad?

- Journalismis very difficult, especially in current times when censorship has become so commonand vast. I salute fearless journalists and writers who strive hard to writeand report stories as is, without clouding it with their personal conclusionsre: any issue. Radhika and Prannoy Roy have always been an inspiration!

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