BJP, don’t turn filmmakers into bhaands!

DilwaleDulhaniaLeJayenge

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

Rakhi, Mirchi and NOTA

Campaigning is hard work. Real tough.
My friend Sunil Dutt was the most tireless campaigner. He would do long padayatra. He even walked from Mumbai to Punjab to draw attention to ‘terrorism in Punjab’. I remember seeing the bruises on his feet as he lied on the hospital bed in Breach Candy Hospital. He had returned after giving his observations on terrorism in Punjab to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and how the Congress-led government could tackle the problem.
Dutt never lost an election.
Sanjay Nirupam and Mohan Deep (Web)Sanjay Nirupam is another hard working politician. He has risen from the rank. He was a journalist with ‘Indian Express’ when Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackrey spotted him and got him to edit ‘Dopahar Ka Saamna’. Thackeray also nominated him to Parliament. While other journalists who have been nominated – Khushwant Singh, Pritish Nandy and many more – have never contested and won an elections. Sanjay Nirupam is the only exception. But then he is also a rare Bihari from Shiv Sena who made another successful transition to Congress.
He is a three times MP who is looking at the fourth term.
He lives in my constituency but is the candidate for Mumbai North.
Rakhi Sawant is the candidate for my constituency – the Mumbai North-West constituency. And she is the Vice President of a new party called Rashtriya Aam Party (RAP). There are 1563 parties in India – only 53 are recognized by the Election Commissioner – and RAP is among the latest additions. By a quirk of fate, the HQ of this party is near the building, where I’ve my den. I invited Rakhi here.
Neither Rakhi Sawant nor Krishan Lal Hans, the President of the party knew that I was a journalist and over the last 30 odd years, have met scores of candidates and scores of politicians. But then I know more about Gurudas Kamath (Congress), Gajanan Kirtikar (Shiv
Sena), Mahesh Manjrekar (MNS) and Mayank Gandhi (AAP) than about Rakhi.
I have known Guru since the time he was the President of Youth Congress. I covered his campaign in 1984 and have noted with interest that he has represented Mumbai North-East 5 times and Mumbai North-West the 6th time.
Gurudas Kamat
If he wins, this would be the 7th time that he would go to Parliament. He has represented Mumbai North East constituency of Maharashtra in the Lok Sabha five times (1984, 1991, 1998, 2004, and 2009).
Continue reading