Nandita Das created a stir by scripting and directing Firaaq. It's a soul-stirring movie. The director and the scriptwriter, Nandita has tried to be as honest and candid with the celluloid as her deep-rooted commitment to her political ideology. Terrifyingly impressive was the way she used the silence as a tool to etch her message on the spectators' minds disturbing the perceptional status quo. The actors lived the characters they were explained to represent. And she admits frankly, 'it's a political movie'.
As a filmmaker and a journalist, I would give her full marks for a political statement that has been registered so strongly that this film is going to have better effect than a hundred thousand peoples' gathering.
Surely, more than a movie it's a political statement. She is a person, with strong colours of ideology and she has done what she thought she must do. Firaaq will certainly get rave reviews in the Indian media. Already she has received quite a few international awards, and like Slum dog Millionaire, it has passed the test through firang eyes and hence must be all the more acceptable to the 'progressive secular, peace loving' people here who have a large, global heart and express their feelings in English.
Apart from its technical qualities of cinematography, editing, direction and script it almost convinced me that barbarism begins with Hindus.
There would be a couple of critical articles or comments, if any of the secular press tsar cares to publish them, criticizing the movie on ideological points or for the depiction of the events, which they may find completely wrong and devastatingly hateful. They will forget that this is a political movie that would sell, as the west firang lands needs a Jamal or a Mohsin to be rewarded to help them cover the feelings emerged post nine eleven in the Bush era. Having heard Nandita on the movie and seeing the clips, I too would have converted to her views if the Godhra incident was not vividly clear in my mind.
I would have turned to take Nandita's autographs with a sense of admiration if I had not heard the cries of Seema, whose father, mother and brother were slaughtered with butcher's knife in Doda, before her eyes, when she was barely seven, in the name of a Jihad, my secular friends interpret differently। I tried to ask a question- who were those Hindus killed and brutalized barbarically during Gujarat riots? Its impossible for me to keep mum or justify what happened post Godhra, which saw innocent Muslims being killed so ghastly that no words are enough to express that hurt. The colour of the tears of a mother, whether Hindu or a Muslim are alike. But dividing dead bodies and deciding levels of mourning on the basis of their faith should be as unacceptable as the killings of the innocent citizens. Killing truth and colouring facts must also be called as a pogrom of civility. Nandita has done exactly that. Pray , why? So If I can admire her qualities of script writing and her directorial debut, shouldn't I be expected to appreciate, on the same level of objectivity, the organisational capabilities, commitment to the ideology and the power to motivate-even well educated- as exhibited in the personae of Osama bin Laden? Or should the motive and the message should also be a factor to print our appreciative hymns? And shouldnt the timing she has chosen to release the movie-just before the elections be also noticed and underlined? In fact the secular messengers of new gospel of hate have turned into the aggressive proselytisers setting their worldview as a prerequisite to enter any socio-political or literary regime. They have successfully monopolized the world of various media establishing English as the only vehicle of intellectual discourse thus keeping the doors to higher echelons of elite and decision makers shut to those who belong to the Indian language groups and represent the real ethos of the land. Though to make profits, these very secular groups would sell Bhajans and show religious serials while attacking the very spirit and the protective shields to such a tradition in the very next programme. They can't imagine winning votes with speeches in English or going to the common voter with a wine glass or a beer bottle in their hands. Yet, in their social circuit, they would raise the flag of pub-culture and look at Indian language speaker with the contempt of a British sergeant. Just have a look at the loan forms of the banks. The last paragraph says-those blind, illiterate or signing in a vernacular language must get their signatures attested by someone who knows English. Can this kind of an instruction be tolerated in UK or US for their national languages? Even using the word 'vernacular' for the national languages is a colonial and a derogatory one. But who cares? They look at Indians as slum dogs, are alien to the threads that weave a fabric called India and treat the 'natives' like Kipling's Ramu. So when a Diana came or any other western royalty comes, they are made to cuddle a slum dweller child with a running nose or taken to an orphanage for a photo op-showing western compassion for the underprivileged. Indian Prime Minister would be never asked to give alms to the homeless sleeping on the stairs of St. James in London or offer grants to an NGO in NY working for the victims of child abuse or the teenaged mothers. Compassion must remain virtue of the rich and powerful, you know.
It is this English speaking elite that determines what India must be reading or thinking or how Hindus must be behaving. They read about Hindus through Oxford or Cambridge publishers and show the temerity to sermonize those Hindus who have imbibed their Dharma in their genes and lived every bit of it, making Kumbh melas possible and taking dips in Ganga on the chilling mornings of Kartik and Magh. The secular proselytiser visits Kumbh, not as a devotee but as a photographer to take pictures of bathing Hindu women and sadhus using mobile phones, as if being sadhus they ought to live as cave men. The pictures they wire to press agencies are essentially depict the weird, intoxicated, obscene and the unacceptable face of uncivilized Hindus to the west.
They don't know a bit about our faith, or what Magh, Amavasya or Saptami means. They take Sanskrit degrees in English and tell us, what's the use of such knowledge in today's modern world? To be futuristic means denouncing all that you have preserved since ages. That's an alienated crowd of people with an accent, detached from Indian realities.
They tell us, you bad guys, you demolished our Babri. Yet, not a single political party can dare to promise in its election manifesto that if they are voted to power, they would re-construct Babri over the make shift temple of Ram in Ayodhya. Their influence on the Indian masses is hardly worth noticing, yet their control on media and political power centres make them important and be counted. Their intellectual terror is so overpowering that today most of the national parties in India work execute their proceedings in English. Poor and often unauthorized translations are dished out in Hindi or any other Indian language. The language, idioms and the attitude of this secular English speaking elite, controlling all the control boxes of media, advertisement and governance remains alien to the indigenous fragrances which they dismiss as folk or ethnic contours, only to be enjoyed in a Suraj Kund melas.
The secular code is-abuse and misrepresent the facts about the opponents, use a pub incident in Mangalore more importantly than the anguish and pains of the soldiers demonstrating at Jantar Mantar, turn every news desk and edit control station into Godhra-throttling the other view point, take salaries from those who provide huge donations to cow sheds in Rajasthan yet write columns on the most enjoyable beef in Mumbai. Lynching the other voice and launching pogrom of truth is the hallmark of the Anglicized secular power centers. Unless you convert to their view point and be ready to say 'build a toilet on Ramjanma Bhumi', delete Kashmiri Hindu woes from official list of concerns, forget Godhra victims treating them as expendable waste, ask questions about the motherhood of a Muthalik and front page it giving respectability to the Hon'ble Minister for Shopping and Cosmetics.These are the essentials one must have to get baptized in the brave new secular order.
One isolated incident of the Hindu right would become a globally circulated representative of the Hindu intolerance and terrorism. In fact these seculars are the most intolerant groups who would like to impose their worldview on others and the unyielding would find them charcoaled o their pages.
None of us accepted the way Mangalore happened. Who cares whether Valentine day is celebrated or not. If someone says to me 'happyValentine day', I will just smile and say-same to you. That's it. Those who find it a nice way to feel joy must be free to do so. But why I must say-'yes, the Valentine day is the biggest symbol of love, amity and happiness', and feel elated seeing obscenities on the streets to prove I am an educated modern person? To each one, his one. I must be ready to accept every happy occasion of any colour or faith or stream to smile and send compliments, but should it become as mandatory as a fatwa? If you have a freedom to celebrate a day, don't I have a freedom to express my opinion about it if I find it completely unacceptable to my values? But the secular fundamentalist wont let you have that freedom with his kind of moral policing.
Wait for the day they have turned into a day of Hindu-baiting, and any small time headline seeker would burn a card, or even intimate the media in advance, 'sir, I am burning a card to protect Indian culture, (like they protected our civilisation by beating girls in Mangalore), pl. mera picture lena'. And the entire media would oblige. It is this farce that has to be countered.
But my questions to those who use incidents like Gujarat riots for awards and rubbing salt on Hindu wounds, was -why forget Godhra and Doda and Anantnag and Kishtwar. And the way Maoists' kill commoners and the security persons in Maharashtra and Chattisgarh and 'use' their women cadre. They will never do that. In the case of Kashmiri Hindus, they wont like to earn displeasure of the Jihadi Muslims. And why should they portray Communists, their ideological friends in bad light?
I think it's self-defeating to react to such situations as a complainant. If you feel injustice has been done, prepare to counter the wrongs through legitimate instruments.
Nandita did what she felt was right and did it quite courageously without bothering what the other side would feel. What did you do to present Doda or Godhra to the world? Who stopped any other Indian to make a movie on the pains and sorrows of Seema or to document the desecration of temples in Kashmir and record the woes of Hindus who had to pass through weird massacres like the one we saw at Wandhama?
Friday, February 13, 2009