Taming the Shrew

The march to quash freedom of expression in India continues. All India Bakchod, a comedy group in Mumbai, is now under attack from MNS, a Shiv Sena style, right wing Hindutva party. The reason is that in a roast of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, both Bollywood actors, the language used was, in their view, inappropriate. [link]

Ameya Khopkar, president, Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Sena, the film wing of the MNS said to The Hindu “We will not let any film featuring the actors present at the AIB comedy show to be released in Mumbai, until they apologise for their actions.

“What kind of message are we giving to the world outside? What if small children, who follow Ranveer and Arjun, watch this show? Will they not be spoiled after watching such shows?”

While AIB may seem to be under attack, the threat is not against AIB, which is small and can continue to flourish on YouTube. The threat is against Bollywood, the shrew of Mumbai, that is largely liberal and annoyingly espouses liberal views in its movies.
This is just the beginning. Not just Bollywood, every writer, actor, artist and musician in India is watching these events closely. They’ve seen what happened to theatres that screened PK. They’ve seen how Perumal Murugan was forced to abandon writing altogether. How AIB, a small comedy group in a tiny comedy industry in India, is being harrassed. And they are all afraid. “That could be me, if I’m not careful,” they are thinking. And “careful” does not create art.

The modus operandi of the Indian right wing is clear. The government need take no action at all. There are enough Hindutva goons in every state of the country who will gladly, for a few hundred rupees, go break up a theatre or rough up some people. All the government has to do is stand aside and let the goons have their fun. The media faithfully broadcasts it. No arrests are ever made. Everyone gets the message – “Be careful. Or you’ll be next.” The shrew is tamed.

There are people, good thoughtful people, who think that freedom of expression in India is over permissive, or that it is not uniformly applied to all religions. So reining in these Bollywood types, who dare to make fun of our godmen (PK), is a good thing.
But, you see, it is not. Today it is about godmen. Tomorrow it will be the length of your daughter’s skirt. Today it is PK. Tomorrow it could be Delhi Belly. Who is making the decision on what is appropriate and what is not? MNS? Do you trust their judgement?

There are other good, thoughtful people who make this into a development vs freedom debate. They argue that the BJP is all about economic development. And freedom of expression is a much less important thing. So let them curtail it if they want, as long as the country prospers economically.

Why is this an either/or choice? I don’t see how freedom of speech and expression get in the way of economic development. This is a false choice. Do not accept it.

People, wake up and smell the coffee. Your freedoms are slowly, but surely, being fenced in. Wake up, before they are taken away and we become an Iran.

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3 Responses to Taming the Shrew

  1. gayatri anandh says:

    Agree with you fully.
    Freedom of expression is being traded for economic growth or the hyped projection of it.. Who is really the custodian of culture?

    Like

  2. milind says:

    On AIB Roasted –
    Times article says ‘if political protests are allowed to intercept CREATIVE platforms, it will not only SEVERELY restrict art but also undermine Indian democracy”

    I am wondering since when BC..MC..Ch***…Lu***….Bh****, all these words got into “Creactive” Bracket…

    If so, then parents now need to send their children to classes where they learn this art at an early age…

    A parent of an 4 year old girl will proudly say…”My girl goes to Music class, Karate, Dance, and yes to learn BC…MC…Ch*** Creatively!!!

    Like

  3. A Anand says:

    It is good to see BJP’s communal agenda articulated so clearly. It is also heartening to see AIB stand its ground for FOE and not buckle under pressure from any bigoted (hindu) group. Eagerly waiting to read your article on the barbaric way these hindus victimized Afzal Guru. Oh no, I hope he was not an RSS affiliated hindu guru! These brutes must be stopped.

    Like

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