PADMAVATI BEING REAL OR FAKE IS NOT THE ISSUE HERE

Hindi version of the article appeared on iChowk.

Most in the Indian film industry have protested after Sanjay Leela Bhansali was slapped in Jaipur during shooting of his film Padmavati. Shooting was disrupted, the crew was manhandled with and some equipments were broken.

An outfit called Rajpur Karni Sena started it. Then other outfits like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Hindu Sena jumped into the row seeing an opportunity to score political mileage. Many other fringe elements saw greener pastures in getting parasitic here.

Anyway, the episode looks like a closed chapter now as Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the Rajput Karni Sena have reached to a settlement with a written agreement and Bhansali has assured that his film will not have any objectionable scene/

Bhansali’s film Padmavati is based on the 13th Century queen Padmavati or Padmini who, according to Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th Century epic poem Padmavat (written in 1540), had committed suicide in an act of mass-immolation along with many other women of Chhittorgarh seeing impending defeat and capture by the forces of Allauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate. Attackers alleged that some intimate and therefore objectionable scenes were being filmed between the characters of Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji. For them it was like playing with history and people’s sentiments,.

The assault on Bhansali was outrageous and it left people outraged. Many pointed out that the whole drama was irrelevant as Padmavati was a fictional character created by Jayasi for his epic poem. Historians say we find no mention of Padmavati before 1540 when Jayasi came up with his creation. In that sense, characters of Padmavati is similar to Anarkali and Jodha Bai, the unreal characters of history made larger than life by cinema and by folklore.

But Padmavati or Rani Padmini was real of fictitious is not the issue here. When it comes to the legends that have become part of our folklore, people go by sentiments and not logics.

The characters in our folklores become part of people’s lives. People grow up listening to the stories of their valour and principles. Many of us even imbibe them. These legends who have been there for centuries have become part of our bedtime stories, our traditions, our imaginations. Many of us get attached to them sentimentally as we just saw in Jallikattu’s case. It happens more in traditional societies. And whenever questions are raised over such legends or they are painted in some negative light, people react logically, and not sentimentally.

Karni Sena or VHP or Hindu Sena, they all exploit these sentiments to get those desperate validations for their existences that they otherwise find hard to get. Their identity, their politics, their existence, everything is based on this lifeline only.

Distorting history or manipulating historical facts for creative freedom or to add drama to an otherwise flat storyline is done all across and is a hotly debated issue, be it Hollywood’s Schindler’s List or Gladiator or Argo or other such productions or our own Jodhaa Akbar or Bajirao Mastani (Bhansali’s last film) or even 1982’s Gandhi that was an international production.

Schindler’s List, Gladiator, Argo, Gandhi and many other films alleged for distorting history have emerged as milestones of the world cinema and have gone on to win Oscars. Even back home, despite all their controversies, Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani were commercial successes.

©SantoshChaubey

SUSHANT SANS RAJPUT: SUSHANT’S TWITTER CAMPAIGN AGAINST BHANSALI ATTACK

Most in the Indian film industry have protested the way Sanjay Leela Bhansali was manhandled in Jaipur during shooting of his next film Padmavati based on 13th Century queen Padmavati or Padmini who, according to Malik Muhammad Jayasi’s 16th Century epic poem Padmavat, had committed suicide in an act of mass-immolation along with many other women of Chhittorgarh seeing impending defeat and capture by the forces of Allauddin Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate. Attackers alleged that, Playing with history and people’s sentiments, some objectionable scenes were being filmed between the characters of Rani Padmavati and Allauddin Khilji.

The assault on Bhansali is an outrageous act and is being condemned widely and like has become the norm now, Twitter is the primary platform giving expression to people’s anger. But some are going a step further and asking others to join by setting a precedent like actor Sushant Singh Rajput has done, by removing his surname from his Twitter handle. So his Twitter handle @itsSSR has Sushant only as his introduction. And it seems he is on a Twitter campaign to take the march further. He is still tweeting his thoughts on the issue and is replying back to trolls as well.

Tagging #padmavati, he had written on January 27, “We would suffer till the time we’re obsessed with our surnames. If you’re that courageous, give us your first name to acknowledge”.

Naturally, it was an open invitation to trolls and they were there with a bang, with their obnoxious language and all unhindered obscenities. They started questioning his roots, his intention, his mental balance, even trying to give it a communal angle. Sushant hit back writing that ‘people quote history to search for their relevance in future, not knowing that their names surely will be forgotten forever.

When someone commented that Sushant didn’t have the balls to stand for history, Sushant retorted saying ‘he has the balls to stand up for the future, so just shut up you joker’. It was yesterday, on January 28.

Today, on January 29, he tweeted his mind again on the issue, “There is no religion or cast bigger than humanity and Love and compassion makes us human. Any other division is done for selfish gains.”

Trolls, too, were there, on their job again. People wrote that removing surname was a business driven decision and even after that Bhansali would not take Sushant in his films. Trolls name-called the whole film industry saying that they were an insensitive and apathetic lot.

When someone advised Sushant that we use ‘surnames to respect of fathers and forefathers and due to some stupid acts by some idiots, we should not stop following them, Sushant replied gently, “Well I respect my father and he knows it. But that doesn’t allow me to disrespect somebody’s son. Violence is not bravery. You react on a speculation because of fear. There are ways to put up your point but that requires intelligence.”

When someone tested his patience saying “why doesn’t he change his name too, if he doesn’t follow any religion then why a Hindu name Sushant?”, the actor gave him a befitting reply, “I’ve not changed my surname idiot. I’m probably 10 times more Rajput than you are if you’re implying courage. I’m against the cowardly action.”

It is interesting to see someone from the Indian film industry taking a principled stand. Hope it will inspire many others in his fraternity to do so. Padmavati or Rani Padmini was real of fictitious is not the issue here. When it comes to the legends that have become part of our folklore, people go by sentiments and not logics.

Many Rajput outfits led by Karni Sena have alleged that history is being distorted in Bhansali’s movie. Distorting history or manipulating historical facts for creative freedom or to add drama to an otherwise flat storyline is done all across and is a hotly debated issue, be it Hollywood’s Schindler’s List or Gladiator or Argo or other such productions or our own Jodhaa Akbar or Bajirao Mastani (Bhansali’s last film) or even 1982’s Gandhi that was an international production. Schindler’s List, Gladiator, Argo, Gandhi and many other films alleged for distorting history have emerged as milestones of the world cinema and have gone on to win Oscars. Even back home, despite all their controversies, Jodhaa Akbar and Bajirao Mastani were commercial successes.

©SantoshChaubey

SECTION 66A IS LEGALLY DRACONIAN NOW

Section 66A is draconian and is not needed, the Supreme Court of India says.

And therefore, the logics like ‘Section 66A is draconian but needed’ have been put to an effective rest…..until the policymakers come with yet another on the similar lines.

After all, policymaking is their prerogative and they follow it religiously.

And like with this provision that came when the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 was amended in December 2008, the next law will take another fight then.

Because it is basically about playing around with words. The word formation of the scrapped down Section 66A says this.

“Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”

Mind the terms ‘grossly offensive’, ‘menacing character’, ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’. These four elements from the ‘defining character of 66A’ are menacing enough to unwind any rational thinking.

How to define what is grossly offensive and who should define it?

Okay, if the consensus is reached that ‘something posted’ is grossly offensive then how to scale the ‘level of offensiveness’ and how even courts can deliberate objectively on something so subjective?

There are laws on treason and public harmony to take care of something that intends to do so. Similar is the case for defamation and slander. Section 66A is not needed for all that.

So what else is of ‘menacing character’ false in the same shadow of ambiguity as the ‘perilous sanctity of something grossly offensive according to Section 66A’.

Add to it – ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’ were ‘menacing’ enough elements mentioned capping the anomalies of 66A taking it to the extreme levels of ridiculousness.

How can we define if some expression is causing ‘annoyance’ or ‘inconvenience’ beyond personal perceptions to work as objectively as the ‘upkeep’ of legal sanctity requires?

Also, how can we equip our legal jurisprudence to ‘define, scale and level’ – ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’ – in countless expressions that flood the social media sites and other internet platforms – expressions that are about personal airs than being the acts of ‘treason, public unrest, defamation or slander. Like said above, if so, all such expressions can, absolutely logically, be tried in every Indian court with backing of well-laid laws.

It is well established (and self-evident time and again) that our policymakers feel equipped enough when they make such laws but certainly (and rightly), our best legal minds don’t correlate with what their legislative counterparts think on the ‘legal relevance of human intellect’ in such matters.

And they expressed it again today, loud and clear – telling them Section 66A is legally draconian now – terming it unconstitutional and striking it down.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/