New Delhi: The need of the hour in Indian cinema as much as in India itself is complete "freedom of expression", says acclaimed actor Manoj Bajpayee.
The actor, who has been appreciated for his roles in films like "Satya", "Pinjar", "Shool" and "Gangs of Wasseypur", has starred in an Independence Day special digital video titled "Jai Hind".
He says people shouldn't be ready to attack creative artistes every now and then.
"In Indian cinema, there is a censor board to interfere here and there, and then there are a number of people with their own interest. They are ready to ban it (a film) or rip the theatres or burn posters.
"I feel there should be constitutional right of freedom of expression. Either you give cinema artistes complete freedom of expressing themselves or you don't have them in the society because in cinema, people can't be open for attack all the time," Manoj told IANS in an interview.
He stressed that defending themselves against attacks is not something "we are trained to do".
"We are trained to receive praises or criticism but we are not trained to defend ourselves against the political attack or the attack on the theatres. So, Indian cinema needs freedom of expression in its totality" said the 46-year-old.
In the wake of the bans -- be if beef or porn -- in the country, Manoj also said that decisions such as these curb the basic rights of freedom among citizens.
"We got independence from Britishers definitely, but we need to find independence mentally. That is the question I have in mind. Are we free to talk, walk, eat or read? These are the questions that citizens should ask themselves.
"Independence, for me, is the freedom to walk the way I want to walk, freedom to eat, freedom to dress up the way I want to dress up and freedom of expression. When these things will start happening, then I will think that we truly got Independence," he said.
Manoj, who started his career with a television serial "Swabhimaan" and later went on to do small roles in films like "Dastak" and "Bandit Queen", got his big break in the 1998 crime film "Satya". He even won a National Film Award for his role as Bhiku Mhatre.
He again received a National Film Award for his role in the film "Pinjar". He was last seen in "Tevar".
Asked about the reason behind doing a short film like "Jai Hind", in which he stars with Raveena Tandon", Manoj said: "I committed to do a short film with Amit Sharma ('Tevar' director), but for some reason he could not manage to do it on the given schedule. Then this one came to me and I found the script very apt for the moment."