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

WHY CAN’T OUR POLITICAL ESTABLISHMENTS ACCOMMODATE VOICES LIKE KOVAN?

While striking down the Section 66A of the Information-Technology Act, the Supreme Court bench had observed, “It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”

The Supreme Court decision on March 24 this year officially declared a ‘draconian’ law finally draconian.

The observation focuses on ‘balance between right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on right’, here in the context of the freedom of expression, and rightly so because the law enforcing agencies have had a pretty bad track record in that.

The SC bench of J. Chelameswar and Rohinton F. Nariman said, “If Section 66A is otherwise invalid, it cannot be saved by an assurance from the learned Additional Solicitor-General that it will be administered in a reasonable manner. Governments may come and governments may go, but Section 66A goes on forever. An assurance from the present government, even if carried out faithfully, would not bind any successor govt.”

Going by the bad precedent set by the law enforcing agencies, the apex court rightly refused to trust the words of the country’s political establishment.

Because the political administration has time and again acted so – with incidents like cartoons and Facebook posts being the reasons for charges like ‘sedition’ and follow-up arrests. Flurry of such cases and the widespread outrage over them were the central reason behind the SC’s decision on 66A.

But what about the concerned Sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC)?

66A was obstructing the freedom of expression with incessant cases of its misuse, and the right logic was put forward that anything of serious nature causing some serious offence could well be handled by the concerned Sections of the IPC.

What about the misuse of the concerned Sections of the IPC?

There is a long list and yesterday’s arrest of a Tamil folk singer, S. Sivadas or Kovan, for writing and propagating songs with ‘allegedly derogatory’ lyrics on Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, has not come as a surprise.

Yes, but as it is to be, and as it is, the anger and the outrage is pouring all across – including from the political establishments anti to Jayalalithaa.

Activists or people like Kovan or many like him, like, for that matter, Jadavpur University professor Ambikesh Mahapatra who was arrested for circulating emails with cartoons of Mamata Banarjee, the West Bengal chief minister, are not known beyond their immediate field of activity or their immediate geographical spread – before their unjust arrest.

They have every right to criticise anyone within the democratic norms. The Constitution gives them this freedom.

But who takes guarantee of ensuring that when the administration acts on the contrary, compromising the rights given by the Constitution?

Courts have to intervene then like the top court did with Section 66A. But it doesn’t happen in a day and the struggle with the controversial IPC Sections takes years for saner voices to prevail, like we saw in Dr. Binayak Sen’s case.

Why can’t our political establishments accommodate voices like Kovan or Ambikesh Mahapatra or Binayak Sen or many others who have a different conscience than our ruling establishments?

What about culture of tolerance in our political establishments?

This May, the Kerala High Court observed in a case, “Being a Maoist is of no crime, though the political ideology of the Maoist will not synchronise with our constitutional polity. The police cannot detain a person merely because he is a Maoist, unless the police form a reasonable opinion that his activities are unlawful.”

This and other similar court observations follow from a landmark observation in 2011 given by the Supreme Court while granting bail to Dr. Binayan Sen. The court had said, “We are a democratic country. He may be a sympathiser. That does not make him guilty of sedition. If Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography is found in somebody’s place, is he a Gandhian? No case of sedition is made out on the basis of materials in possession unless you show that he was actively helping or harbouring them.” (Here ‘materials’ means Naxalite/Maoist literature.)

If Kovan has done anything that goes against the state then his arrest can be justified but not on the pretexts like his songs are maligning the image of the state’s chief ministers or he is openly criticising the state sops selling liquor/alcohol – especially when ‘prohibition’ has become a sensitive issue across the country.

Kovan’s case reminds me the Marathi movie ‘Court’, India’s official entry to the Academy Awards (Oscars) this year. In the movie, the main protagonist is jailed time and again as police links his anti-establishment songs to the ‘alleged’ suicide of a person, even if there is evidence on the contrary.

Here are links to Kovan songs. I don’t understand Tamil but I am free, and rightly, to express my solidarity.

Shut down TASMAC and Amma TASMAC (Tamil songs – TASMAC is the Tamil Nadu government outfit that runs the liquor shops in question.)

And here is a photograph, sourced from Twitter, showing S. Sivadas or Kovan performing his art.

Kovan-Twitter

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

CARTOONS OF DEFIANCE

Charlie Hebdo is going to come out next Wednesday, the day it comes out every week – in the true spirit of the rightful and needed defiance of the terror attack on its office in Paris yesterday that killed its 10 staffers including its four cartoonists. And they are going to print 1 million copies. In past, the average circulation figure of the magazine has been hovering around 50,000 copies.

The killers are on the run. The manhunt is on. Some over 80,000 French security personnel are mapping the possible leads. The world is watching. And the world is speaking on it.

There are voices of defiance. There are voices of shock. There are voices of support. There are voices of resolve. And there are fanatic voices as well, lauding the attack, from terror groups like ISIL or Taliban to even from politicians of vested interests.

And the defiant voices that started emerging immediately, are getting stronger with time, with people from the world over expressing their outage, flooding the social media platforms – with media outfits paying tributes and keeping up the momentum.

And the anger, the shock, the pain and the resolve – it reflects in the cartoons drawn to pay tribute and drawn to show the defiance – with cartoonists coming out fiercely in denying the terrorists what they were aiming for – instilling horror in the hearts of those who defy the diktats of terrorists and the terror warlords.

The cartoons of defiance slap rightly in the face of terrorists and fear-mongers with hard and direct attacks, something that made for several Charlie Hebdo covers, as well as with subtle symbolisms, the hallmark of political cartoons.

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

Here are some of the best ‘cartoons of defiance’ from the Internet pages:
(Images courtesy: different cartoonists, independent and working for media outfits)

Cartoons Collage-1

Cartoons Collage-2

Cartoons Collage-3

Cartoons Collage-4

Cartoons Collage-5

CARTOONS OF DEFIANCE

JE SUIS CHARLIE – YES, “I AM CHARLIE”

charlie

It happened in real time, almost at the same time it broke in France. The Twitter feeds of news carriers and Twitterati in general broke the news to France, and to the world that the Paris office of the weekly satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ was under attack, facing heavy gunfire from terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs, and a rocket launcher as well.

Well, these were the frantic reports of the moments when fanatics were on the prowl, like it happens in every terror attack, when armed people kill people, indiscriminately. In these rushed moments, when the sense of the credibility of the news inflow is tasted, one thing always stirs the soul and leaves with haunting questions for humanity to think over – that there are people dying, people like you and me, by the acts of people, people like you and me.

This has been the alter-ego story of human civilizations – men killing men – to build civilizations – to annihilate civilizations – and in the recorded history, it has been basically about religion, revolving around it – fighting for religion – killing in the name of religion – when it was not to be the story when religions started taking shape – when formations started getting changed in search of ‘more’ and ‘perfect’ religions.

Charlie Hebdo, the French magazine, had crossed (and has been crossing) the path of religious fundamentalists, the central characters of these wars, becoming thus a party, willing or unwilling it never matters, in the wars, being waged in the name of religions.

Countless lives taken by these wars and still growing – religions that are supposed to liberate people by uniting them to live a humane way of life have become cages to bind them and blind them.

Religion liberates. Religion unites. Religion gives a sense to the life.

Religion also indoctrinates. Religion also disintegrates. Religion also infuses you with fanaticism of its supremacy.

By the men who control religions!

By the men who control men in the name of religions!

Some of these men sent some men today, to kill people who they had condemned to be killed.

Stephane Charbonnier, Charlie Hebdo editor and one of the cartoonists behind the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons featured in the weekly in past, was on Al Qaeda hit list.

And he was among the 10 staffers of the magazine killed today, by the terrorists who claimed to be from ‘Al Qaeda in Yemen’ (AQAP-Al Qaeda in Arabian Peninsula), one of the deadliest jihadi outfits, perpetrating terror this time, in Paris, right in the heart of France, one of the major global powers.

The two gunmen, as most of the video footage available showed, who killed in the name of God, shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and ‘we have avenged the Prophet’ further shot dead one policeman who was already injured.

Yes, it was a disturbing attack on freedom of expression, one of our fundamental rights, one of the causes of our ‘being’. But we need to see it in the context that it had been carried out by those who don’t believe in such basic needs of humanity in the free world. And for this very reason, we need to show these butchers that what these ‘basic needs’ stand for – that we cannot allow them to be compromised at any cost – even at the cost of our lives – because the tenets of a free democratic world have been achieved after centuries of struggle.

The spirit needs to endure. Charlie Hebdo or any publication or institution or movement must never be allowed to cow down because some fanatics are out there trying to impose thinking of their barbaric world on us.

And the show of solidarity is building up. Let’s make it overwhelming, as the immediate response to the attack shows. People are coming out, denouncing, standing in solidarity.

The ‘cartoons of defiance’ are prominently visible on the social media platforms and across the news carriers, paying tribute to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists killed and telling the fanatics that we remain firm at our stand, that we stand with our cause. Yes, there is the need to fight back if the humanity has to be saved, if religions have to remain the spirit of societies, if civilizations have to survive.

For that we need to question religions, we need to criticise their tenets, wherever we feel at odds with.

That doesn’t make us infidels. In fact, that is a better way to being religious – free, liberated and united.

Charlie Hebdo did it in its own way. A claimed Leftist orientation – it’s satire targeted all religions and people from every walk and society of life where its reach reached, sparing none.

Yes, many of us may not always feel at one with what they did or the way they did, but that is their prerogative.

If a God is so weak for His followers to be defamed or brought down by legitimate ways to express differences of opinions, the followers are fundamentally wrong in their concept of ‘their God’.

Charlie Hebdo operates from a democratic country and there are laws of the land to regulate its functioning with independent courts that don’t spare even presidents of France. So, if anyone has any grievance, there are legitimate ways to remedy available.

But the fanatics, be of any religion, don’t believe in the legitimate ways of the free world, because it doesn’t correspond to the thinking of their leaders who want to keep their authority central – the societies where men rule in the name of religion, in the name of God – where few are supreme and the rest are mere followers – living an imposed thinking – be it the terror warlords – or the nation states run by families.

And we need to say them, the fanatic followers, the terrorists who kill in the name of religion, that how wrong they have been, that how nonsensical and ill-conceived their notions have been.

Our way, your way, or the Charlie Hebdo way – and in this hour of crisis, we need to remain united in solidarity – to speak in one voice that we won’t cow down, that we won’t be silenced – Je Suis Charlie – Yes, ‘I am Charlie’ – ‘Yes, we all are Charlie’.

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