Prevention is always better than cure. But what happens when some smart aleck decides that to prevent dandruff, it’s best to cut off the head?
That’s exactly what was proposed by the Uttar Pradesh government when it prohibited the screening of the Prakash Jha-directed film Aarakshan, in anticipation of ‘people’s sentiments being hurt’ on watching the film — or by simply hearing that a film dealing with caste and reservations was not stopped from being aired.
Thankfully, the Supreme Court intervened and ordered that a film passed by the Central Board of Film Certification could not be stopped from being screened by a state government.
The Indian State has an ignoble tradition of giving into the slightest of whines. If it wasn’t Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses being banned — it still is! — or the production crew of Deepa Mehta’s Water being hounded out of India, the slightest depiction of a community in a perceived negative light is deemed fit for the plug.
Most of the time, it is nothing but seeing ghosts where there are no ghosts. But in the case of the world of make-believe, the fact that a story or a depiction need not be sanctioning what is being shown or told eludes too many foaming-in-the-mouth self-styled victims.
Instead of always giving in to demands of hyper-sensitive protestors crying out ‘Our sentiments have been hurt!’, the State should be protecting the freedom of expression, telling those professional complainers, ‘Stop behaving like a wilting flower, will you! Don’t watch it if you can’t handle it’.
The apex court stated in its ruling that in a democracy, “it is not necessary that everybody should sing the same song”. We add the corollary: in a democracy, it is not necessary that everybody listens to the same song.
And frankly, if everybody had to be the sensitive soul, it shouldn’t be irate Hindus, victimised Muslims, badly depicted lower-castes, misunderstood upper-castes etc etc who should complain about ‘them’ being portrayed in movies.
If any community has the right to grumble about their depictions, it’s the police (think corrupt cops, crooked cops, lecherous cops...). And they’re fine. So...