The controversy over film “Padmavati” is quite unfortunate, to say the least. It is yet another illustration that how rigid and narrow-minded we are becoming. The polarization of misguided elements with a dubious background and atrocious attitude is a dangerous trend indeed. What is more alarming is, these venomous elements are getting political patronage too, especially from those who claim themselves as the cultural caretakers of the nation.
Historical authentication of Padmavati (or Rani Padmini) apart, what is at stake is free thinking and free expression. What is wrong with taking an episode from the past (real or imaginary) and creatively re-presenting it with creative inputs? Whose culture or tradition is getting offended? It is a Hitlerian culture that the creativity of a writer, director or any artist should be fashioned suiting the powers that be or the fringe groups nurtured and nourished by them. Is it not so that these fringe elements are trying to “Talibanise” Indian polity?
A film, novel and for that matter, any piece of creatively portrayed art, tarnish the tradition, culture and faith is totally baseless. If it were so, Christianity should have been wiped out from the face of the earth long ago because there have been anti-religious writings and shows galore in the West which still continue unabated. One classic example is the series of novels by Dan Brown, a few of them were made into Hollywood blockbusters.
Portraying American Presidents, other authorities and institutions by their names is normal in English writing. Take the case of “JFK”, a 1991 Hollywood film directed by Oliver Stone on the assassination of American President, John F Kennedy. Of course, there were differences of opinion in the media and among intellectuals about the content and storyline. The critics have seen the film and raised their voice. However, nobody threatened to set ablaze the cinema halls or put a price on Oliver Stone’s head. In India, can we imagine a film or novel on Gandhi’s assassination putting the blame on the fanatic religious fundamental groups?
In reality, these fringe groups are not concerned at all about culture, tradition and pride of their clan. In Bhansali’s Padmavati they got a convenient scapegoat to capture headlines with the tacit connivance of those in power. Imagine the awaiting calamity when these self-styled messiahs of culture and tradition get rewarded in the next elections by their political Godfathers!
Yes, somebody has very well said, there are hardly any Indians in India. Despite the new-found mal-intentioned patriotic fermentation, we are all, in fact, Hindus, Muslims, Christians or Sikhs as well as Brahmins, Rajputs, Yadavs, Patidars and so on.
It is time for the real Indian citizens to come forward, unite and resist the cultural and religious fascist elements to safeguard creativity and free flow of expressions.