Jaipur: Narendra Modi thinks only about India and not about himself and that is the reason I called him a "fakir" (ascetic), poet-lyricist Prasoon Joshi said on Thursday, defending the famous moniker he used for the Prime Minister during an interview.

In a Westminster Townhall, London, in 2018, the chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) famously asked Prime Minister Modi where he got his “fakiri” from, and found himself at the receiving end of both bouquets and brickbats.

"There is hardly anyone who will deny that Prime Minister Narendra Modi thinks only about the nation and not about himself. That is the reason I called him a fakir (detached one). The detachment to personal gains and attachment to the country," Joshi said during a conversation with actor Vani Tripathi at the Jaipur Literature Festival, which began on Thursday.

“I still feel the same and will say again and again that our Prime Minister is dedicated to the country. He thinks only about the country and there is no doubt in it,” asserted Joshi, who is also a screenwriter and marketing professional.

Clarifying his statements, Prasoon Joshi recited a poem and said in today’s world, everything is expressed and there are some good and bad things expressed.

"

He also said the word diversity was being wrongly interpreted by many people. He added that did not mean, "I have to make you palatable for myself." 

"Diversity means I will allow you to be who you are and then accept you,” he said, “I have a big problem with the word tolerance. It means when you do not like something you tolerate. The word does not belong to this country. Here, we say acceptance. We accept with open arms and do not tolerate. So, please don’t use this word tolerance in future."

Touching upon the controversy that followed the Nobel Committee’s 2016 decision to award the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan, the first time a songwriter was awarded the prize, Joshi said he was perfectly fine with the move and applauded it as he did not believe in hierarchy of art forms.

“There should be no hierarchy of (art) form. Excellence is in art and not in the form. Only a painting cannot qualify as a great art form. There should be excellence only and no condescension in art. Beauty in art exists in different art forms. That is why I don’t believe that lighting in films cannot be great. And that is the reason I applauded when Bob Dylan was honoured with the Nobel Prize,” he said.

Joshi said it was the collective consciousness of the society which decides what is a great art form and what qualifies as a mediocre one. He also said it was important to respect the others’ point of view and equally important to maintain grace in disagreement.

“We have a great deal of misinformation and little information today… We need to inform people more about film certificates for they know little about what a U/A certificate means,” he said. There is also a need for the democratisation of the lexicon debate, he added.

With PTI Inputs