It humiliates Hindus
Date: 09 Mar 2008
It humiliates Hindus
Reel life fiction as history: Saradindu Mukherji,
Professor of history, University of Delhi
Shyam Benegal, commenting on the fate of his magnum opus, Bose: The Forgotten Hero, is reported to have said that his "film would have had a fair chance, hadn't it been so poorly exploited. Imagine running a three-and-a-half-hour film at 11 in night or at 10.30 in the morning. It had to sink".
Everyone knew the real reason as to why a film on Subhas Chandra Bose, true to history, could not be shown on prime-time. After all, Bose was dangerous not only for the British imperialists in the1940s but also an anathema to those who would have lost all if Bose had returned to India in 1945. It is a sad commentary on the mindset of the post-independence ruling elite and its 'freedom loving' intelligentsia that they can't shed their low-cunning and abysmally pathetic subservience to the dictat of the establishment in matters such as a film on Bose for uninterrupted material 'success'.
One thing India is never short of is the class of professional sermon-givers and jholawallas. But they were not seen shouting and shrieking to demand that this film on Bose must get its due. They could not see through the conspiracy which they see so clearly in the justified opposition to Jodhaa Akbar!
To argue, as the director of Jodhaa Akbar does, that it is not so much about history but "about an imagined love story" and not a "fact-finding film", is difficult to accept. Think of Shekhar Kapoor marrying off Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) to the Dauphin of France. A movie based primarily on a well-known historical character like Akbar can't be selectively historical, partly fictional and yet remain emphatic in its underlying message suiting the dominant ethos of contemporary India's spineless and self-serving ruling class.
On the very essential fact whether Jodhabai was married to Akbar, one is not too sure. While flights of fancy are passť, a certain fidelity to the most rudimentary facts is a condition precedent in such ventures.
If the primary objective was to project Akbar as a 'liberal' and 'humane' ruler, that in fact, fails in the very early stages of the movie. The fact remains that Hemu had assumed the title of Raja Vikramjit or Vikramaditya and fought Akbar's army gallantly till a "chance arrow struck him in the eye" in the Second battle of Panipat. Subsequently, he was killed by Bairam Khan or Akbar himself. It is well-known that a "minaret was made of the heads of the slain" and though Hemu's widow managed to escape, his house was attacked and his aged father killed at Akbar's behest. It is absolutely banal and downright inhuman to expect that for people who have looked upon Hemu (probably they are in a majority in India) as their hero to be jumping in uncontrolled glee at his fate and turn into ardent admirers of 'Akbar the Great'.
As for Akbar as a romantic hero, it is absurd to sustain the cock-and-bull story. After all, he never hesitated to marry Salima, Bairam Khan's widow. The same Bairam Khan had been his guardian in his most difficult days. Akbar, too, eagerly took Kamla Devi, the younger sister of Rani Durgavati, in his harem. Durgawati had earlier killed herself to escape dishonour by the Mughals. Akbar's harem had 5,000 inmates. He also compelled many Hindu Kings of Rajasthan to hand over their daughters in marriage to him and in the process created a class of collaborators - humiliated Hindus who were made help him wield the 'sword of Islam'. No trace of that collective humiliation of a proud and dignified people comes out in the movie. In fact, the relatives of Jodhabai are shown as most satisfied in their subservience and personal humiliation.
By omitting Akbar's massacre of 30,000 people in Chittor, the film's maker has smothered the most unsavoury aspects of his life. Even a 'progressive' historian like Satish Chandra says that this slaughter cannot be justified.
Hence the unambiguous message of the film: That collaboration or subordinate partnership with pan-Islamic expansionists is in the long-term interest of kafirs. In this terrorist-friendly ambience of 'secular' India, the makers of Jodhaa Akbar and its ardent admirers have fulfilled their historic responsibility! Who says they don't have a sense of history? It is this alone which explains the frenzied support from the 'intelligentsia' and 'connoisseurs' of art and all such strident votaries of freedom of expression.
Courtesy: The Pioneer
Sunday, March 9, 2008