Winter has set yet the air is hot and dirty.
Delhi was in the news for its smog conditions; the media, the memes, the wats app forwards had so much material to tap and I living 300 kilometres away developed a nagging cough. I’m unsure whether to blame the changing season or the quality of air for my ailment.
Anyway, the newspaper informs me that the air is better now thanks to the light shower on Saturday. Thank God for all the people who ran the Airtel Half Marathon, although I’m sure they would have still run, smog and all.
Indians are very hardy and resilient, adapting well to the changing atmosphere.
So whether it is breathing or bullying in the name of love, we take it in our stride. I read of the gau rakshaks (cow lovers/saviours) lynching anyone transporting cattle, even if it is to a vet. Then there is the love jihad taking the nation by storm. If you are really lucky, it will only take you to the court and not behind bars.
Nothing fazes us but that doesn’t mean we are not sensitive people with tender feeling and easily bruised sentiments. We naturally respond, very strongly. Luckily in a democracy we can cry hoarse for a ban, go to the court for a ban, for ban is the only balm for the hurting heart.
For instance as a proud Hindu Rajput Kshatriya (not all are from Rajasthan you know), I’m gobsmacked to know that our very honour and pride is under siege. A Bollywood film seeks to tell a story of a Rajput Queen. Since the movie hasn’t released the only thing I’m sure of at the moment is the title of the film which says Padmavati.
I thought her story should be easy enough to search, for if reports are to be believed, she defied Alauddin Khilji, ruler of the Delhi Sultanate who was important enough to be a part of my school syllabus. Wikipedia threw this fact instead, Padmavati is a protagonist of a narrative poem ‘Padmavat’ written in 1540. She may have been a figment of imagination of the poet who wove this memorable narrative (an allegory) that too two centuries after she was supposed to have lived.
So if I understand correctly, my fellow brethren are up in arms for a wrongful depiction of a fictional queen but definitely alive in our memories and stories, all based on a film teaser that shows breathtaking visual of grandeur, a beautiful queen looking pensively, a king with smouldering eyes and a distinctly menacing villain presumably Alauddin Khilji in fur. Also there is a song and dance by the queen which is already a chart buster but deemed hurtful to the sentiments too. Apparently as a queen she would have never danced with other women in real life and yet there she was dancing (gracefully I must add).
Folks, it’s a Bollywood film; we sing and dance through happiness and sadness.
Sunday afternoon I sat transfixed in front of the TV, surfing through interviews, discussions, phone in programme debating these turn of events, trying to clear the dirt flying around.
This is what I learnt at the end of it:
1) The people whose sentiments are hurt are no longer fringe outfits. They are multiplying and now include All India/ Maha Sabha/ Union in their names and are large enough to speak for the community across India who are all collectively hurt.
2) Media coverage is a heady feeling. They are loving their new found notoriety evident from the smiles, waves and push to be in the TV frame. Their sound bites too are not particular, rather identical for it includes words like honour, culture, pride, protecting the queen’s name, irrespective of what the question was asked.
3) “No artist has a right to depict or interpret any characters from History, fictional or real especially Shivaji or Shivji.” Honestly that’s a real quote.
4) Placing bounty is not just the Iranian prerogative. Remember Salman Rushdie and the fate of Satanic Verses? There are two here, one each for the Director and the Actress; monetary windfall for head, nose. The TV telecasted this public rally announcement and the accompanying loud cheers. Cheers to Freedom of speech!
5) Alauddin Khilji who just happens to be the most important ruler of the Khilji dynasty is cast as the Evil One here. He cannot be shown having lustful thoughts of the righteous queen in the film.
Whether such scenes exist is anybody’s guess. Our ever vigilant vigilantes are vigilant, one cannot trust these sneaky Bollywood directors.
7) So it’s a movie with a story that no one can authenticate and since it is yet to be released, there is no review or the Rotten Tomato score. Yet its very existence holds the power to hurt the sentiments of Rajput royals, politicians, women and men alike.
7) If you keep saying the same thing over and over again, myths and legends become truth.
Hey wasn’t that called post truth or as Stephen Colbert would say, truthiness?
8) Tv channels can cut short a phone in viewer if he blames the channel for giving the people behind and in front of this row more airtime than say other protesters such as the dying farmers or even Brexit.
Hmm…breaking news says the Film studio has ‘voluntarily’ deferred the film release. A segment was devoted to the word voluntary as well.
That certainly cleared the air but I still say hot air hurts!