The bigot in my drawing room

In Hindustan Times: Atul Kochhar is the symbol of a far more widespread problem – the normalization of prejudice against Muslims.

I run into my college friend after a gap of some years. Post the usual small-talk, she wants to know my views on the tolerance/intolerance debate. I tell her I am worried about the erosion of this country’s social fabric in recent years.

Elaborate, she says.

Muslims, I tell her, at least the ones I speak to, are scared of living in this new India. They worry that they are being watched all the time. They worry that the mutton they cook at home could at any minute turn into beef and this would have deadly consequences for them. They worry about their children. They are just scared.

Good, she says. They should be scared. Continue reading “The bigot in my drawing room”

Mob at Mumbai cinema diminished spirit of national anthem

Who decides what is nationalism and how best it is to be displayed? For some, standing up for the national anthem is tokenism; for others it is a sacred duty. For some, our flag and national anthem are the glues of nationhood; for others, nationalism is best expressed through being good citizens.

In 2009, months after the 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, Ram Gopal Varma made a film called Rann. A critique of media’s insatiable appetite for TRPs, the movie’s title track was a remix of the national anthem, with the added word rann (or war). Jana Gana Mana rann hai, is rann mein zakhmi hua hai Bharat ka bhagya vidhata and so on. To nobody’s great surprise, the Censor Board raised objections and Varma had to drop the song.

What a long way we’ve come since 2009. Then, I wrote about how Varma had crossed a line. But nobody suggested that he was being unpatriotic or less than Indian or should be dispatched to Pakistan.

Now, forget about remixes, people who fail to stand during the playing of our national anthem are abused, threatened and ejected from movie halls by vigilante audiences. Continue reading “Mob at Mumbai cinema diminished spirit of national anthem”