Saturday, November 16, 2013


India is home of a tribe of intellectuals who claim to be 'secular', liberal and fighters for protection of human rights. They are the people responsible for many a strife and unnecessary troubles in the country. To an extent, they are divisive in nature because on account of their stand many a times certain castes, groups and community get bold to entertain fissiparous tendencies. They fish in troubled waters and with their 'intellectually liberal and secular' sermons stoke fires of passions with their opinions. They shield themselves behind the freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed in the Constitution of India.
They are always on the side of the wrong – those who take the law into their hands, act against the interests of the nation (like terrorists and Naxalites) or injure the feelings of the majority community. They beat their chests for the freedom of opinion and expression of the likes of late M. F. Husain and others who paint Hindu deities in the nude, describe Lord Rama and Sita as brother and sister, etc. But instantly turn deaf, dumb and blind when it comes to the people like Salman Rushdie, Taslima Nasreen, writer of Da Vinci Code and others. They seemed to be on a holiday in some remotest corner of the world when terrorists struck at a massive rally addressed by BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narinder Modi at Patna killing about 8 people and injuring more than 80 people. They give us the impression as if Mr. Modi had no right to his opinion and freedom of expression and the innocent people who fell victim to terror had no right to their life. Further, the people had no right to hear any person they like in the kind of democracy we have in India.
When Bharat Ratna melody queen Lata Mangeshkar exercised her constitutional right to her opinion and express it by praising Mr. Narendra Modi, it was the Congress leaders who demanded that the award should be withdrawn from her. But these very illustrious tribe of 'intellectuals boasting of being secular and liberal' lost their tongue to criticize those leaders who wanted Ms Mangeshkar be denied her constitutional right.
It is in this series of hypocritical words and action that the renowned writer-director-actor Girish Karnad on November 15 described as "nonsensical" the controversy and protests surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Ram-Leela'  "That is really most upsetting", he pontificated. "It is impossible to be creative if some idiot gets up and says 'I am sad'. Judiciary should also have some sense. The decision is nonsensical," he added. ( Bhansali's film is facing the ire of several groups for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

Mr. Karnad relives the saying that those who agree with me are wise and others are fools. That is why he calls those, including courts, who don't agree with him as "nonsensical" and advises judiciary to also "have some sense".

Everybody knows, even non-Hindus know (but perhaps Karnard doesn't) what the word "Ram Leela" stands for. Some of the film producers wish to trade in the sentiments of the people to fill their coffers. They earn dividends by deliberately raising controversies. It is just like serving wine in a bottle with the label "tomato ketchup". Will the liberals, like Karnad, support such a venture? Will our law permit it? The producer is guilty of cheating the viewers by naming his film "Ram Leela" which it is not.

This also raises the question. Instead of naming his film "Ram Leela", why did he not christen it as "Sanjay Bhansali Leela"?  It is said that the producer once claimed that Leela his mother's name. In that case, below the words "Ram Leela" the producer should have added the words that it is the "Leela of his mother" candidly. Would Karnad have no objection had he titled the film as "Girish Karnad Leela"?

Instead of taking his license with the religious sentiments of the majority community, would Mr. Karnad used the same words had Bhansali or, for that  matter, any other producer labeled his  "Leela" adding the name of some non-Hindu religious deities?

Some years ago, late M. F. Husain had painted some Hindi deities in the nude. The likes of Ms Arundhati Roy and her tribe – perhaps Karnad included – had stood solidly behind him for exercising his right to freedom of expression. I wrote in some newspapers and even sent a letter sent at her residence and posted my opinion on her Guest Book, challenging Ms Roy and others to publicly declare whether they would respect the same right of any other artists who painted their mother, sister or any other family member in the nude with the same gusto with which they support Husain? Unfortunately, none had been kind enough to say so publicly.

I would welcome Karnad to respond to my opinion!

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