Thursday, February 28, 2008


Banned! Barred! Disqualified! Debarred! Excluded! Expelled! Forbidden! Proscribed! Prohibited!

The list is endless. The words are strong and reek of a place which would be least inhabitable. One would wonder that one gets to hear such words in some distant land, ruled by a loathsome dictator. India is a strong democracy – alive and kicking. Why should I fear such words? Everybody has freedom here – freedom of speech, freedom of expression… That’s what they taught me in school. Isn’t it? Then why these words keep ringing in my ears these days – newspapers, TV, mobs, individuals.

Everybody is practicing his/her freedom of speech. But the paradox is they utter only the “B word” – Banned! One has to be very correct politically when you are in a formal situation, where one has to follow a certain protocol. That’s understandable. But things take a bizarre turn when such vigilance is applied to art, movies, songs, singers, actors, activists and others of the similar ilk, by few publicity hounds, petty politicians and anyone who wants to have his/her fifteen minutes of fame. Sometimes these situations turn outright ugly and at times they are so whacky that it is difficult to even laugh at them.

“Ban Harbahajan Singh for his Monkey/ Maa ki business”
“Debar North Indians from coming to Mumbai”
“Expel Sania Mirza for showing disrespect to Indian Tricolor”
“Bar Sania Mirza for wearing short skirts”
“Exclude Sania Mirza for being the only successful Muslim Woman sportsperson in India”
(Give her a break!)
“Prohibit Shagun from cracking her PJs”
“Forbid Zaki for his idiosyncrasies”
“Proscribe me for writing this blog”

But the latest controversy takes the cake. So read on!!!

Firstly they said ban Jodhaa Akbar, because Jodhaa wasn’t the wife of Akbar. Instead she was his daughter – in – law. Now incest is considered a taboo almost everywhere in the world, so banning it would have been right. So why not ban those history books which we read in schools, where Jodhaa was told to be Akbar’s wife. Ban Mughal – e – Aazam where Jodhaa was Akbar’s Begum. Nobody even raked up this issue when Mughal – e – Aazam was re-released last year in its new avatar. Because putting down people like Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai and Ashutosh Gowariker would grab more eyeballs for TV channels than K Asif or Prithviraj Kapoor. Tearing posters and burning effigies has become a new fad in town. It looks good on TV. So people are doing it with √©lan. With every ban, every controversy, a bigger and a better effigy is there. Poor Ashutosh – even his disclaimer at the start of his Epic Romance didn’t soothe the fragile ego of few. So in Rajasthan it is banned.

Then there comes up another group in Madhya Pradesh, that says being a Mughal Emperor (Mughal Emperors have always been associated with tyranny by fringe and radical groups), Akbar can’t be shown in a positive light. That’s a sacrilege. So there was again a demand to ban it. What about the creative liberty of the film maker? He is crying himself hoarse to death by claiming that historians themselves have contradictory view points. Anyways Jodhaa Akbar was banned in M P for a week or so. High Court had to step in to revoke the ban. Judicial Activism! Phew!

If that wasn’t enough yet another group stood up and claimed that Rajput women actually fought a battle against Mughals, so they can’t be shown romancing them. Now that’s the limit. Even Ashutosh has agreed that the romance part of his epic is his imagination because no historian in Akbar’s era was allowed inside his harem. After all there were no paparazzi or hidden cams then. I wish the viewers had understood the fact that Jodhaa (portrayed by Aishwarya) in this version of Ashutosh, actually fought for her practices and beliefs even when Akbar was a force to reckon with and he gave in to her beliefs. It was a sort of triumph. Isn’t it?

I wouldn’t be surprised if someone stands up tomorrow and file a PIL against viewing of Jodhaa Akbar claiming that Aishwarya is Abhishek Bachhan’s wife, so she shouldn’t be romancing someone else’s husband. After all there is always someone hurt by something or other. Nobody goes to vote in one of the largest democracies of the world. But everyone has something in his/her scheme of things which should be banned!

I would also fulfill my part in this democratic setup. Jodhaa Akbar should be banned! It should be banned plainly because it is a BADLY MADE MOVIE (my views on the same require another post). It’s a LONG BAD MOVIE. It’s a TORTURE. Please someone BAN IT…