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”

Many degrees of separation

A festival tells those who are not of our religious persuasion who we are and what moves us. Why do we fast or dance. Religion at its best embraces, not excludes which is precisely why we need to invite and not dis-invite those who don’t practice our beliefs.

If the Vishwa Hindu Parishad has its way, Muslims in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat will not be participating in the ongoing Navratri festivities. While vigilant Durga Vahini members will campaign against ‘love jihad’, others will ensure that single Muslim men do not enter garba dance venues, or force them to drink purifying cow urine and sing Vande Mataram.

The sub-text is clear. The self-appointed thekedars of Hinduism are pushing forward their fantastical ‘love jihad’ campaign. Won’t young Muslim men use the garba festivities to ensnare hapless Hindu women?

Continue reading “Many degrees of separation”