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Shashi Tharoor to PM Modi: Withdraw case against Payal Kapadia if India is proud of her

Congress leader nudges PM as Cannes Grand Prix winner finds herself in the political spotlight, thanks to student protests at her alma mater FTII

Our Web Desk Published 28.05.24, 10:27 AM
Shashi Tharoor, Payal Kapadia, Narendra Modi (left to right)

Shashi Tharoor, Payal Kapadia, Narendra Modi (left to right) File

Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi that if India was proud of Payal Kapadia, the police case against her should be withdrawn.

Kapadia, whose film ‘All We Imagine As Light’ scripted history by winning the Grand Prix, the second-highest honour, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival, is an accused in a case lodged around the student protests at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune.


Kapadia had led the student movement in 2015 against the appointment of Gajendra Chauhan, best known for playing Yudhisthir in the mega TV serial ‘Mahabharat’, as the chairman of the premier institute.

Tharoor quoted Modi’s tweet (on social media X, previously known as Twitter) congratulating Kapadia. The Congress MP urged the prime minister to withdraw the case against Kapadia.

The prime minister’s party, the BJP, is part of the coalition government in Maharashtra, where Assembly elections are due later this year.

Modi had tweeted: “India is proud of Payal Kapadia for her historic feat of winning the Grand Prix at the 77th Cannes Film Festival for her work ‘All We Imagine as Light’. An alumnus of FTII, her remarkable talent continues to shine on the global stage, giving a glimpse of the rich creativity in India. This prestigious accolade not only honours her exceptional skills but also inspires a new generation of Indian filmmakers.”

Tharoor quoted the prime minister’s tweet and said: “Modi ji, if India is proud of her, should your government not immediately #WithdrawTheCases against her and fellow FTII students protesting against your government’s arbitrary appointment of an unqualified Chairman?”

He also attached a quote of Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty, who has been vocal on social media that FTII, whose alumni have brought India glory in Cannes, must now drop the case against the students.

Fake Payal Kapadia tweets spark political gossip

A day after news broke of Payal Kapadia’s film winning the Grand Prix at Cannes, an X account claiming to be of the director quote-tweeted congratulations from both Modi as well as Opposition leader Rahul Gandhi.

One of the tweets seemed to lean slightly towards one political party.

Sources close to Kapadia insisted that she was not on social media and independent fact-checkers also found that the account posting as Payal Kapadia was fake.

What is the FTII case against Payal Kapadia?

A total of 35 students, including Kapadia, were reportedly booked under Indian Penal Code sections including 143, 147, 149, 323, 353 and 506. Some of these offences, related to unlawful assembly, criminal intimidation and rioting, are non-bailable.

The chargesheet in the case was reportedly filed in 2016. The defence lawyer representing the students recently told PTI that the next court hearing is scheduled for June 26.

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