Even in my wildest dreams, I never thought that I would write an opinion piece on how a song from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film became a symbol for resistance (cue: gasp! eye roll…), but here we are.
However bizarre it may seem, the signs are all there – they just needed to be pointed out. As the chaos around the film reaches a pinnacle with fundamentalists and right-wing activists making a mountain out of a mole hill, and the Rajputs grabbing the chance to brush their ego, a resistance is brewing, subliminal though, but it is there.
However, nothing was able to beat the impact that Mulayam Singh Yadav’s younger daughter-in-law created while she danced to the song at some family function. In a highly politicized spectrum that this situation has moulded into, Yadav’s daughter-in-law’s video, especially in Yogi’s Uttar Pradesh, is nothing short of resistance.
When numerous death threats are looming, listening to the song, dancing to it, watching the trailer on-repeat – all falls under the definition of resistance. And it is hard to take the threats from these Hindu fundamentalists and ‘nationalists’ lightly, as the examples set before us aren’t encouraging.
A lot has been discussed and debated over the ban of the film “Padmavati”, mainly by the Karni Sena. These kind of bans have become quite common now. What is more disturbing is the support that they are getting from the ruling party. The government’s utter silence in these situations had surfaced before as well. When a fatwa was announced against Salman Rushdie, the Congress government’s silence, inaction and the lack of security to the venerated author still resonates in the intellectual world.
Now, how do you resist in these situations? You show complete disregard for the threats and the illegal bans, because if history has taught us anything, it’s that banning never works. Going by the words of the Nobel Laureate John Steinbeck, “Repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed.” The era that we are living in right now, involves constant fight against propagated and manufactured nationalism, racism and the ever long fight against sexism. These acts of disobedience, passive (or active, in some cases), cannot be trivialised.
Right now, YouTube is flooded with dance covers of ‘Ghoomar’, with several videos crossing millions of views (the song in itself has crossed over 66 million views.) It is strange to use social media as evidence, but in 2017, social media has become a huge tool of dissemination of information. Anything put up there can be equated with mass protests of the past, like coming down to streets, organising marches and so on. As stated, even if one person is listening to the song or the trailer or anything concerning the film – they are protesting and resisting in a way.
People who expressed concern about the honor of women being misrepresented in a film, didn’t flinch for a second before comparing Deepika Padukone to Surpanakha and announcing a bounty on her head and her nose. Such are the harbingers of a progressive society. However, it is the fantastic people of this country that makes me hopeful. These people who are creating videos, whether it’s a ‘react’ video or a dance cover, are champions. They know about the threats yet they persevere. I guess India is moving, at a snail’s pace, but it’s moving forward.