Given the present condition in the country, tolerance, unfortunately, has bid us all goodbye! That, while words like ‘nationalism’ and ‘patriotism’ have become an extension of xenophobia, thriving upon hate and religious bigotry. Don’t get me wrong; India has had its fair share of dividing opinions but the current milieu reeks of religious fanaticism and prejudice!
God knows, what happened to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, a national-award winning director because of alleged hearsay is proof, we no longer are allowed the constitutional right to speech and expression! True, Bollywood as a fraternity has come together to show solidarity, but actress Renuka Shahane–known for being vocal and always speaking her mind–has penned down a powerful Facebook post and there isn’t one, who’ll deny!
What happened to Sanjay Leela Bhansali on the sets of Padmavati was appalling & horrifying. For goons to throw our laws to the wind, cause him bodily harm & vandalise the sets is disgusting. It turns out that their outrage stemmed from a rumour about a dream song between Rani Padmini & Alauddin Khilji! Do these goons take whats app posts as the gospel truth?I might not have agreed with Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s interpretation of Devdas or his representation of Bajirao Peshwa & Kashibai in his Bajirao Mastani but I chose not to see the film. Why should a group of bullies, on hearsay, take the law into their own hands? If they had a grievance they should have addressed it in the right manner.
But evidently, some people love violence and/or think the film industry is a soft target.If political parties can make capital of bullying film personalities into submission( or extort money from them) by pressurising them just before their big releases & the CM of Maharashtra mediates & therefore indirectly endorses this extra-Constitutional authority form of bullying, then it opens the floodgates of hate by ” the hurt sentiment” brigade.
Whether it’s the custodians of Islam & their fatwa against Salman Rushdie & Taslima Nasreen or the Hindutva brigade who vandalised M F Hussain’s exhibitions or political parties who send out their well-equipped goons to vandalise offices of news houses; they are all signs of extreme intolerance! Yesterday I was on a TV news show discussing (supposedly) the Jaipur Lit Fest’s feeble response to certain Maulana’s protesting Taslima Nasreen’s invitation to the festival. And while the anchors were discussing the importance of freedom of speech one of them suddenly shouted out something about where the “award wapsi gang” were now when a supposedly liberal festival decides not to re-invite an author just because of pressure from some fringe groups!!
I was stunned by this unnecessary inclusion of the reference to a group of artists, writers & scientists who had returned their awards to protest growing intolerance in the country. While the news show was about freedom of speech, I was amused to see how much that news channel was against the peaceful, democratic right that those writers, artists, technicians, scientists had chosen as a means to protest what they considered was intolerance in the country. Wasn’t that their freedom of speech? There was no violence in it. They decided to return their well-deserved awards back! And yet that is considered sacrilegious by that news anchor? Bhalaa Taslima Nasreen ki freedom of speech unn national awards wapas karnewale writers, scientists aur directors se behetar kyun hai?
I have worked with some of these writers, editors & cinematographers & they are peace loving, tax paying honest citizens who have a right to put forth their point of view in a peaceful manner. Why club them together & call them the “award wapsi gang” as if they are monsters like the many-headed Hydra! They are human beings with an opinion that might be completely different from yours; but they have the right to protest peacefully! That is exactly what they did. And if they did it once it does not require them to do it again & again & again.
A) They do not have unlimited awards to return.
B) They are well within their rights to protest some & not other events because it is their life. They are not a Government agency that is answerable to the people of our country.
Meanwhile I’m glad that the film industry has unequivocally come together to show their solidarity to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, because what happened to him should not happen to any person in our country! The hooligans who caused immense damage to his set & outraged his dignity have to be dealt with in the strictest of manner possible by law, hopefully also swiftly!
There, somebody said it out and aloud! I don’t know about you but my respect for her just doubled!