It’s an irony of a sort that, as Indians, we celebrated our Republic Day on January 26 and the next day, a blatant mockery of tolerance and freedom of expression, guaranteed by the Indian constitution unfurled in front of our eyes. It is appalling and disgusting how a terror outfit assaulted the pride of the Hindi film industry and one of our most brilliant filmmakers, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, treading with impunity to destroy his workplace, the sets of Padmavati. It is infuriating how freedom and tolerance are taking a toll.
Yes, the culture of intolerance, I choose, to say it loud and clear, is being legitimately questioned when we see fringe elements roaming free and violating the rules of law of our great country. It’s the law of the blind, deaf and dumb when the system fails to protect its citizens. It makes me so angry that I chose to break my blogging break to write about it in this space. Now, who wants to argue when we speak about this culture of intolerance which is hijacking peace, creative and artistic freedom in our country known as the beacon of freedom and independence! I dare anyone to come here or in the online space to call us Sickular? You can and it’s your right to troll, insult or call us names but dare not condone violence in the name of religion. And, please do not justify this violence by comparing it to our soldiers on the border!
Article 19 in The Constitution Of India 1949 stipulates freedom of speech and expression:
The primary purpose of Article 19 is to protect certain rights regarding freedom of speech. According to this Article, every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression; assemble peacefully (without arms); form associations or unions; move freely throughout the country; reside and settle in any part of India; and practise any profession, or carry on any occupation.
The Article 19 explicitly states that the right to freedom of opinion and expression also includes the freedom to hold opinions without interference and “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” Article 19 (5) of the Constitution “purportedly empowers” the states to enact legislation of their own for protecting indigenous people.
It’s not the first time that the film industry is incurring the wrath of fringe elements or for that matter Sanghi Hindu extremists attacking a film set, damaging public property, book launch or destroying the work of artists. It’s terrorism designed to muzzle freedom by resorting to violence and lynching. It goes against the principles of freedom of expression upon which our founding fathers built a tolerant India and laid the principles in our constitution. The question that one should ask is, Are we ready as citizens to forsake our cultural assets which are our freedom and artistic right to express?Why should the film industry be at the receiving end of hoodlums or goondas muzzling voices?
Those days, it is fashionable for anyone or schism to start a hardliner group with the names like Sena and the Karni Sena or its ilk and hire paid goons to attack a creative person. It is commonplace that artists, be it writers or filmmakers are at the receiving end of such extremists goondas, reveling in their so-called right to be offended or outraged at the product that hasn’t seen the light of the day. First of all, those idiots haven’t even read the script and I can take a bet that they are first-rate ignorant of their own Rajput culture where the medieval era ruler Alauddin Khilji, fell in love with Queen Padmavati. It is an irony of sort that we don’t understand a thing or two about our culture or holy scriptures but find it our birthright to jump the gun by resorting to violence against people presenting a work of art in book form or on the screen, for that matter.
Truth can be very disturbing, far away from the so-called distortion of historical facts, taking pride in this scant disregard for the rule of law. Did I say, rule of law? It’s the law of the jungle with morons forming Senas and so-called intellectuals, high on religious pride who will do anything to prove a zilch point. It’s not for the first time that the Indian film industry is being at the receiving end of morons. It happened with Kamal Hassan, Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab in the recent past and will occur again. Till the film industry doesn’t come together in one voice, divisive forces will rule through the use of violence.
It’s horrifying with social media trolls and now paid goons using violence rather than knocking on the doors of the law or holding seminars to discuss how their beliefs are being questioned. It’s within their right to express offense but through civilized method to pour outrage is the hallmark of a decent society.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali is one of the most prolific film-makers and a pride to India whose Padmavati was screened to applause in Cannes years ago. There have been politicians who called him the pride of India and this hypocrisy looms large on our head like a sword when we lack the gall to defend the man and his crew at his place of work. It’s tragic that the authorities lack the spine to defend its citizens.
Attacking women or destroying Archies gallery on V-Day and vandalizing MF Hussain exhibition is a cowardice act. Yet. who will bring those morons to task and drag them in court? It’s high time that the Government of the day gets rid of the fools parading on the ‘Sena’ namesake for the truth is they represent themselves not a particular religion, caste or the people.
Why should filmmakers cower down or change their scripts to suit fringe elements, backed by politicians, in society? It is an assault on human freedom and perhaps, no place for creative artists to express themselves. It is high time to say No to this culture of violence and hooliganism. We live in a world of contradictions where so-called social groups feel offended at the mere sight or words invoking Gods, cultural history or religion. Till we don’t come together to oppose such intolerance in our society, we have so much at stake be it our history and road to freedom, that we will lose in no time. As citizens, we cannot afford to compromise our freedom and artistic right to express. History will judge us. Let’s rise against abuse and venom spurned by idiots who lack the intellectual faculty to judge or read history. Lets’s stand together, citizens, artists and the film industry as one voice against bigots.
Work-in-progress, seeker and bundle of contradictions. Stubborn and Refusal to grow up and constantly in search of myself, I blurt it out on my space. Drop in and share some love. Indian by choice.
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