Date: 04 Jun 2010


Uncalled-for rajneeti //////////////// M Ratan///////////// The undisguised authoritarianism and blatant intolerance on display during the Emergency under Mrs Indira Gandhi’s rule continue to emerge sporadically from time to time. Fresh evidence underlining such behaviour by the ruling party has been provided by Mr Prakash Jha’s latest film Rajneeti. The film — that centres on electoral politics — has been subjected to several cuts after some scenes were regarded as offensive and unacceptable to the ruling party. ///////////////// Despite Mr Jha’s disclaimers that his film targets certain personalities, perhaps belonging to the ruling dynasty, the Censor Board and three representatives of the Congress party who previewed it, raised objections, agreeing only to a restrictive Adults rating. Hence the filmmaker was forced to delete these portions to avoid greater losses. El Sari Rojo (The Red Sari, subtitled When Life is the Price of Power), authored by Madrid based Javier Moro is the latest target of the Congress censors.//////////// Such Emergency-era censorship raises a larger question on the freedom of expression enshrined in our Constitution as a fundamental right. Our Governments seem to be hypersensitive when a book, film or cartoon is even mildly irreverent. One can understand if an author is deliberately malicious and perverse in projecting religious icons. Critics and opponents of such works can expose them by counter-representations as Gandhiji did to Mother India, Katherine Mayo’s 1927 book targeting Hindu culture, calling it a “gutter inspector’s report.” He did not ask for banning it. ///////////////// A ban only adds value to the offensive product in the public eye. One can choose to condemn Salman Rushdie for maligning the Prophet’s wives in his Satanic Verses with intelligent arguments by contesting them on the same platform. It is the way of the unlettered and the narrow-minded to seek to drown dissent by proscribing it, often motivated by the cheap publicity gained through the exercise.//////////////// The episode involving Pramod Muthalik would have died an early death had the media ignored Sri Rama Sene’s abortive attempts at policing public morality instead of lapping it up. But the same media has been mostly silent vis-a-vis the Congress party’s stand. /////// 000000000/