The Assault On Bhansali Reveals How Disturbingly Intolerant We’ve Become

Posted by Shatakshi Asthana in Society
January 30, 2017

About 10 years ago, a Bollywood film appealed to the youth to wake up and choose from two ways of living – to either remain silent and watch whatever happens around, or, to take the responsibility of changing it.

The film was “Rang De Basanti” starring ‘Mr.Perfectionist’ Aamir Khan – now one of the ‘anti-nationals’ – labelled so by the nation, which is now wide awake. No other film in the history of Bollywood must have influenced the audience to such degrees – that years later, the actor himself was almost cyber-lynched when he hurt the sentiments of the nation.

Recently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali was assaulted on the sets of “Padmavati”, and was accused of distorting historical facts and threatening the pride of Mewar. He had to leave Jaipur, thereafter.

With the coming in of infinite social media platforms which are meant to provide people with a tool to voice their opinions on various issues – which otherwise go unheard – we are seeing an upsurge of increased, instant and intemperate reactions. The fact that people are not afraid of questioning those who have exercised their uncensored and free will, so far, is admirable and promises a well-informed and aware future generation – but isn’t there some maturity, wisdom and greatness to be shown while doing so? Is the instantaneousness that mandatory so as to neglect a background check? Forget opinions and ideologies – aren’t even facts and contexts to be considered?

It is quite promising that more people have opinions nowadays. They do not accept whatever is given to them readily. They think, and that in itself is probably the best evidence of them living.

But is this thought process elaborate and broad enough to let counter views be taken into account? Opinion formation has become a reflex action, generated within seconds. Ambiguity is never helpful – but rigidity too is very, very dangerous.

We are sitting on the edge of our chairs to pass judgements and prove that we have a stand. Everyone should have a stand – only without a horse’s blinkers.

The sets of “Padmavati” were attacked by the Karni Sena for having maligned the royal image of Queen Padmavati. Not only was the film opposed – the sets were also vandalized, and Bhansali was also hit.It will be quite interesting to find out how the Karni Sena was so sure of the ‘dream sequence’ it was objecting to – especially after the crew denies the presence of any such plot. Shouldn’t they have at least waited to get their facts right? Even if there was one, by registering their anger violently, they have definitely beheld royal pride. One should wonder if they have ever done anything productive to add to the pride of Mewar – at least for women – in the name of the queen they are fighting for.

It is not solely about a movie or a person or a group – but more about what we have become as a society. Whenever we do not subscribe to an artist’s work, or to a scholar’s ideas, or to a person’s ‘no’, we lose our sanity and harass them to inhumane extents. Be it the virtual or the real world – we are so very quick at being critical, making strident remarks and even making someone a laughing stock! Ranging from social media posts body shaming people to the racist, sexist jokes – we don’t take a minute to hit ‘like’ and share – not a second to ‘troll’ someone, no matter who the person is, no matter what the context is. We defend the figures we agree with – which is good – but this should not come at the cost of losing our ethics and basic human nature.

Artists are called ‘anti-nationals’, while journalists are called ‘presstitutes’. Irrespective of the content or the historical background of the stories published, we become the intellectual warriors guarding the honour of the nation – which comprises of perhaps, no one in particular, because we seem to have lost the least bit of courtesy towards any fellow human being.

In the race to stay awake and aware – we forget to listen, to read or to watch. All we want to do after waking up is to register that we are alive – by doing nothing but shouting!


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