In what is by far the most damning indictment of the champions of free speech in the country by a mainstream actor, veteran Malayalam star Mohanlal has come down heavily on protests spreading through our universities by posting an emotional blog piece on Sunday. Written in Malayalam, the post, titled ‘Respect freedom, respect it’s price too’, appeals to all to react rationally.
The actor begins his piece with a reference to a picture in a newspaper where the four-month-old daughter of Lance Naik Sudheesh, one of the nine soldiers killed after they were trapped in an avalanche in Siachen, was being shown her father’s body. “The soldier could never see his daughter. In the same newspaper I read about the fight in our universities on what love for the nation is. Fights in assemblies, bar scam and other news stories too were there. I felt sorrow and shame at the same time,” Mohanlal writes.
Even as our soldiers are paying with their lives to save our country, he continues, “it is hypocritical of us to talk of freedom of speech and patriotism”. He continues: “We cover ourselves in thick blankets at the first sign of chill in the weather. We have hot water to brush our teeth and take a bath. It is after utilising these comforts that we go to universities and offices and discuss about our soldiers, abuse them and question them.”
Just as children cannot abandon their aged parents, the actor argues, citizens too cannot distant themselves from the nation. “Our country is the soil we stand on, the sky above our heads, the air we breathe, the water we drink and finally the piece of land that we will become one with as we die.”
In conclusion, he writes: “I don’t care for such debates or discussions if we don’t strengthen our democracy. It is time that parents talk talked to their children about what a nation means.