October 10, 2009

Mum(bai)'s the word !

October 10, 2009 Posted by Vijay , No comments
That I am writing a post after a long hiatus, should probably be the ostensible excuse I give myself to write about something more than a week old. But, I have always been someone who goes by instincts and is driven by thoughts which make me passionate about a subject, or anything close to my heart. So, when I saw the news piece about Karan Johar (Kjo ?!?) and his apology to MNS' Raj Thackeray, I had a strong opinion. One that refused to accept any reasoning behind such an apology.

With elections just a few days away, this probably was another attempt by Raj Thackeray led MNS to garner the Marathi Manus vote bank. Honestly, there are a few things which to this day bewilder me. I would cover these as we go along in this post. The sunny side to the apology given by Karan Johar could be the good reviews that the movie which he produced, Wake Up Sid has been getting over the past week. The unfortunate side of the entire episode still rankles me though. For, till date I can't understand why an apology was even issued by him.

One thing India is definitely lacking is an openness to embrace creativity without confusing it in the name of politics. When Wake Up Sid's first day shows were being attacked because the now rechristened Mumbai was called as Bombay, I couldn't conceal my surprise. I was wondering, what is so wrong in using Bombay in a creative medium. Creativity in any form cannot be manipulated to the whims and fancies of the political class. It is a free art form, and anyone should be able to express it the way they wish to. Yes, with the caveat that there is no malicious overtone against any caste, creed or community.

It was quite bizarre that Karan Johar finally succumbed to the pressure of the protesting MNS manus, and had a clipping in the movie prints saying any reference to Bombay, should be read as Mumbai. Frankly, till date I haven't been able to understand what MNS is fighting for. If it is to protect the rights of all Marathis, fine. Valid point. But, protesting against the usage of Mumbai in a creative medium like a movie, is quite absurd.

With all due respect to Raj Thackeray and his MNS agenda, I would like to know whether its in his wish to have only Marathis in Maharashtra ? If so, he should delve into the electoral rolls and find out who is the true Marathi Manus and who isn't. Would he be fine with non-marathis voting for him during the upcoming polls to help him win ? In such a case, with the kind of agenda he has, he should reduce the votes he gets from non-marathis and then be honest and sincere about the final results. Can he do such an exercise ? Just like any politician, the thought is only to gain popularity and create an agenda.

That creativity as a medium of expression has been curbed has come to light earlier as well. BJP and other fundamentalists were supposedly furious at M.F. Hussain's paintings, depicting Mother India. Yes, one needs to be patriotic. But, as I said, if a creative medium does not denigrate anyone's caste or community, and is free of any propaganda, I wouldn't think it being a problem. Instead, M.F. Hussain is in a state of self exile fearing backlashes in India. India maybe the largest democracy in the world. But, it is still not a country free from bizarre curbs on creative freedom expression.