Narendra Modi asked everyone to shut up, became the kabhi garam kabhi naram face of BJP and led the party to victory with absolute numbers. He invited all the heads of the neighboring nations to witness his swearing in ceremony indicating a new era in India’s relationship with its neighbors.
Traditionally, BJP has always had two faces – a hardliner and a soft-liner. But Modi took up both the roles in this campaign. Now that he is the Prime Minister, the preferred face seems to be of a soft-liner.
Is the role of the hard-liners being delegated to the others?
Two days after BJP won the mandate, talking on ‘Headlines Today’, Nitin Gadkari, now a minister in Modi cabinet, for a round of interaction with the Pakistani strategic affairs expert Tariq Pirzada said, “ I want to ask my Pakistani friend, does beheading our four soldiers and taking their heads away look good on part of the Pakistani military?”
He went on “We have zero tolerance of terrorist organizations. Pakistan ne agar yeh bandh nahi kiya toh Pakistan ko iski keemat chukane padegi— Pakistan will have to pay the price if it doesn’t stop this.”
Rahul Kanwal commented, “That’s a very interesting response from the former BJP President! You can’t behead our soldiers and expect us to sit back!”
Pirzada returned, “If Mr Modi, or the BJP, come up with a strategy of launching a strike into Pakistan under a false pretense… I can tell you one thing: Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
Gadkari retorted, “Agar aapkke paas nuclear weapons hain, toh hamare paas nahin hain kya?” (If you have nuclear weapons, don’t we also have?)
Pirzada countered, “… Our nuclear strength is equal …”
Gadkari said, “Aap yeh dhamki Manmohan Singh ko dijiye, humko math dijiye…” (Give this threat to Manmohan Singh, not to us.)
Finally Pirzada backed out, “Nahin, nahin, yeh dhamki nahin hai! Yeh… No, no, this is not a threat.”
Falling for the Congress trap (Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said that it was expected that Shiv Sena would make its stand clear on presence of Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif but its silence shows that its earlier anti-Pakistan stand was just for political convenience.) Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray reacted immediately and said that Narendra Modi will have to use the ‘Nuclear Button’ if Pakistan refuses to mend its ways. Thackeray even said that Modi’s government has been brought to power ‘to settle the issues of national security, terrorism and infiltration, once for all’.
This statement comes a day before Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit the country to attend Modi’s swearing-in ceremony for the post of Prime Minister.
Both India and Pakistan are nuclear weapons states and have close to 100 warheads, each.
India has pledged ‘no first use policy’ against only non-nuclear weapon states.
On the other hand, Pakistan is yet to sign the ‘no first policy’ but it has reiterated that it would only use its nuclear weapons for its defense.
Be that as it may but to talk of nuclear attacks appears a little churlish, when Narendra Modi seems trying to open a Vajpayee chapter with Pakistan and to improve India’s relationship with all the neighbors.
But will ‘the hardliners’ allow him to do it?
I am again in touch with Manoj Kumar. Spoke to him. He is excited about Narendra Modi becoming the Prime Minister of India. And happy.
Manoj Kumar is an apolitical person who loved Bhagat Singh and Lal Bahadur Shastri. Now, he admires Modi.
Maybe the time has come for someone to stage my controversial play – set in emergency period –
Nehru and the Tantrik Woman. BJP’s K R Malkani was intrigued and fascinated with the theme and Manoj Kumar even wrote a song for my play!
I had always admired Manoj Kumar and loved his films. But I didn’t realize that he would casually ‘write’ the theme song in an half an hour chat on phone.
Here is the song:
Aate aate ghari wo aayee
Churidaar se churi takrayee
Tan se tan yun takraya
Bharak uthi ek jwala
Prem ka baadal aisa barsa,
Beh gayee man ki jwala
Phir sadhvi bani kaamni
Yun chale ke ho gajgamini
Kuch aise kadam uthe the,
Un rahon pe chale the
Jo rahen thi anjaani
Wo thi kitni deewani
Khudaai hai mumkin aaj ki raat
Ke chiraag jal chuka hai andhere mein /
Janam ho raha hai us maseehe ka
Jo apni tawnaai se waakif hai.
On the surface, the idea of having a wing exclusively for developing and promoting films ‘themed on Indian tradition’, as announced by Mithlesh Kumar Tripathi, the convener of the art and culture cell of the BJP seems harmless. But, as a writer, I’m wary of any interference / influence on cinema or for that matter, any other mode of expression.
BJP is not the only party that wants to propagate Indian values in its cinema. Congress and Marxists have used the cinema in pursuit of similar goals with their private agenda. Jawaharlal Nehru encouraged Raj Kapoor to propagate his brand of socialism that glorified Soviet Russia. Lal Bahadur Shastri asked Manoj Kumar to turn his slogan (Jai Jawan Jai Kissan) into a movie and Upkaar was born. Nehru was also instrumental in getting Haqeeqat a propaganda film made by Chetan Anand; a film that puffed up India’s defeat at the hands of China in an avoidable war.
Mrs Indira Gandhi got Manoj Kumar to start work on Naya Bharat to justify and glorify the draconian emergency. Kumar got Javed Akhtar to write the script. Fortunately for Manoj and Javed, the emergency was lifted much before the film could be made.
Keep your hands off the content of the films!
Encouraging any form of art with grants and awards, incentives and facilities is encouraging the culture of bhaands.
The big filmmakers who make films like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge, who are making pots of money, don’t need these grants and awards. The smaller ones would find themselves compromising, towing a particular line to woo the awards.
If you, as a government want the Indian filmmaker to compete with his counterparts in other countries – provide an infrastructure. Free him from the clutches of the distributors who control the theaters, and therefore the filmmakers. A good film by a small maker can’t reach the audience as the multiplexes control the screens. They have their own interests to look for. It is easier to make a pile from simultaneous release on 3000 screens even from a third class film with a couple of stars. All they need is the right marketing and publicity; content be damned.
These distributors and exhibitors have created another culture of bhaands; the filmmakers who just cater to the lowest common denominator making films like Grand Masti.
A government run chain of small theaters, each with a capacity of 300-500, spread all over the country would give a chance to the small, independent filmmaker – a chance to make good cinema, a chance to compete at the world level.
Whatever these filmmakers – other creative people – make is going to be a part of Indian culture.
Knowing how the over-enthusiastic and often culturally uneducated wannabes hijack ideas, it is important to analyze the idea of ‘Indian tradition’ and ‘Indian culture’. If the idea is to have a conservative presentation of women or a military boot on depiction of erotic scenes, the BJP and its art and cultural cell will have to do a rethink. I’m also writing with reference to the U turn of the Central Board of Film Certification in the recent times. It is slowly returning to the dark days of stone age.
The Censorship has never been a Hindu idea!
Hindu is a free thinking, all accommodating religion. There is no place for censorship in Hindu religion.
Continue reading “BJP, don’t turn filmmakers into bhaands!”