Monday, October 6, 2014

Boycotting Haider - An appeal to Kashmiri Pandits

Boycott Haider – A letter to Kashmiri Pandits

The movie Haider, which claims to be made on Shakespearean theme, has raised quite a lot of controversy as well as some support, not to mention measly earnings. The '#BoycottHaider' was trending for considerable time in Twitter, and many were distraught by the fact that such treasonous movie could ever have been passed by the Censor Board.
It is reported here, that Haider was the last film Rakesh Kumar, the suspended CBFC Chief cleared. Another member, Nandini Sardesai, said “I don't understand why the revising committee was not approached. That man (Kumar) was flouting rules."

Obviously, everything was not above board and it is evident that the clearance given to Haider is under cloud of suspicion hence there seems to be a need for review of the certification provided. I do not say that to ‘Trojan Horse’ an intolerant view that a ban is in order. Rather, I only point to the irregularity in certifying the movie, as raised by another member of the CBFC board.

However, there were many other aspects of Haider debate that needs ample attention.

First of all, it is about the rule of jungle law the previous Government ran. All posts were sold to the highest bidder and the successful bidder collected rent. I know from second hand knowledge, from a friend of mine that PSU posts were sold by coterie of the Damad. It is only by providence the Railway board appointment was exposed; most media behaved that they have caught one exception in the system, the one transgression that besmirched the otherwise unsullied reputation of the Government. Either they lacked the intelligence or they were satisfied enough not to pursue the incident to find out if the Railway appointment was a one-off incident or one of the many in the system. In all probability, it is both.

Second, not in importance but in count, is the issue of ‘Freedom of speech’. I am a strong supporter of free-speech.      I wrote here supporting Dr Frazer, and exercised my right to free speech.

Subject to the possible illegality of obtaining Censor certificate, I have no problem if people like Vishal Bharadwaj express their abhorrent views through such movies. If audience wants to punish him, it should do so by not paying him money for offending collective sensibilities. However I have a problem when only Vishals get the benefit of free-speech while many other legitimate claims are denied.

The one thing that comes inseparably packed with free-speech is my responsibility of restraint in the face of offending speech. Only truth can be the judge and not personal views, even if supported by books written ages ago. However, the Laws in India are loaded against free-speech, understandably because of possible violence it results in violence.

If I were to screen ‘Fitna’ in India, an emotive symbol that epitomizes the perils of holding on to freedom of expression, will I be allowed? A movie that resulted in brutal slaying of a director, Theo Van Gogh, is the ultimate symbol of freedom of expression. Do you think anyone of our movie artists like Mahesh Bhatt or Shabana or one of  Dhimmi crowds will come forward to screen ‘Fitna’, to stand with the freedom of artists to express their views fearlessly? Buckets of tears were shed for M F Hussein who fled to Qatar to avoid the cases filed against him in courts, condemning the right wing fascists, who did not take law into their hands. It only seems reasonable to conclude that these people shed tears for their own tribe under the guise of freedom. It is not freedom that they love. It only seems to be an honourable fig-leaf to cover the real intent. 

Again, in the case of #BoycottHaider, I was not in support of banning, something many in Twitter were in support of, but countering it. We need to nurture a tolerant temperament in India, a social aspect that Congress and Sickuliar Governments have stifled in the name of secularism, to please minority, whose bulk voting they depended on, so that they can continue to loot the nation at a cost of a bone. I nurture a tolerant temperament that combines my right to freedom with my responsibility not to be offended hearing to what I do not agree with.  

Let the market decide Haider's success. I am totally for bringing to the notice of people the perverse ideology disseminated by such a travesty of a movie and urging people not to see it. But that is only half the story. I also urged the KPs, many of whom have the withal to pursue, to take Rahul Pandita’s book, “Our moon has blood clots” and make it into a movie. But most responses stopped at either boycotting or banning the movie or both.  The will to fight seemed lacking.

Those people who want the movie banned are those who want things to be delivered to them at no cost. They want their problems to be solved by someone because it is ‘fair and just’. World does not run along those lines. If one is not willing to spend a calorie of energy to defend freedom, has already lost it. 

Those who want others to boycott the movie are ‘political activists’ at the most. By such campaign they bring awareness to public. They are able to prevent an injustice from being carried out and in that they are defensive as well reactive in their approach. Though they inflict damage, financial one, on the makers of the movie, to some extent a moral victory, the story does not end here nor is it as rosy as it appears. 

The resources at the hands of the movie makers is, apparently, much larger and these kinds of damages do not hurt them significantly to stop them from trying again. Those who boycotted the movie still do not know the answer. They have been told by people they trust that the answer provided in the movie is the wrong one. Nothing further.

It is akin to keeping a shelf empty; it attracts things to be filled with.

The prevalent sentiment in India is still reactive, but these sentiments are being heard only now, due to the political changes that have taken place at the Centre. Yet, the new ideology is not resurgent enough to make required impact. The right response would have been, to fill that empty space in the shelf with the right and strong message, as truthfully as possible, so that when spurious ideas of Haider variety attempt to find place they find none. That positivism is still to translate into actions on ground.

India as a Hindu nation is an idea uninterrupted for about 8000 years, albeit with glitches. The values imbibed are now almost genetically coded. The society structure is built on tolerance from ground up unlike the West, where it is imposed from top. As Sankrant Sanu said, it is in our Dharma, our gene, our blood. Our history has, except for Kalinga, no instance of ruthless or mass killing of the ‘others’. The wars had codes of conduct that is superior to what UN has now. These codes were not imposed but inbuilt.

One primary reason why the highly developed culture lost glory was not because it was won over by a superior culture. It was through violence of magnitude unimagined. It was a black swan that stuck India. The people had never seen such adharmic onslaught, violent killings, greed accompanied by loot and the desecration of sacred. The laws that held the society together was being broken with impunity and for those who believed in those laws it was an age of despondency and defeat. The dark ages and descended on them.

It is the same theme that played havoc with the Kashmiri Pandits too. Though I would like to use the adjective ‘stoic’ to the Hindus of Kashmir, I have a nagging doubt that they are really not up to it to stand up to the adharmic aggressors.

Until there is a change in Kashmiri Pandits' attitude to take the fight to the aggressors, I do not see any possibility of retrieving their loss of home, pride and honour. The fight has to be fronted by them and the rest of India will support. But the rest of India cannot fight with sparse representation from the Kashmiri Pandits. I am not for a moment suggesting that KPs should take law into their hand. At the least, they can take on the propaganda war head on. And win. The rest of India will support!

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