January 7, 2015

DEMO’NO’CRACY

Posted in Religion at 1:04 pm by వసుంధర

‘Perfect democracy is one in which you can have healthy disagreements. Right to protest -peaceful, if I may add -is a fundamental right of a democracy . But not violent protests. Violent protests are symptoms of a disease’ – says Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj….

imggallery  imggallery

Jan 06 2015 : The Times of India (Hyderabad)
`PROTESTS ARE SYMPTOMS OF A DISEASE’
Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj writes about the personal price he paid for making a Kashmir movie, and why violent protests -whether against pk or Haider -don’t have a place in a democracy
Pathar puje Hari mile Toh main puju pahaadTante te chakki bhaliPis khaye sansar Kakar pathar jod ke masjid lai banai Ta chadh mulla baag de kya bahra hua khudai (If God can be found in an idol made of stone then I’d pray to the mountainWhy not worship the home flour mill that gives us the flour to eat and survive? After constructing the mosque with rock and stones the priest shouts from the rooftop Is God deaf?) -KabirThese are strange times we live in. If Kabir was born today , he’d been lynched to death. In Kabir’s time, India was a land of the learned and the enlightened.

Today , it looks like a land of the uncivilized and the intolerant. I invoke Kabir because nobody knows whether he was Hindu or Muslim. Since Kabir, we have not progressed ­ but actually , regressed. Surely , something went wrong somewhere.

In today’s India, anybody can wake up and vandalise anything heshe wants, especially if it’s about God. I’m sure God Himself is quite amused. He must feel like telling these people, `Why are you feeling bad when I’m not feeling bad?’ God is not weak. He’s capable of defending Himself. So, let’s just shut up and leave that to him.

Recently , some activists protested against Raju Hirani’s pk for hurting Hindu sentiments. The same thing happened with Haider. First, I was accused of being anti-army . Next, I became anti-national.

It was my duty to make a film on Kashmir. More than a duty , it was my job to reflect the reality, as I saw it. I didn’t take any sides. That’s the rule of a filmmaker. With Haider, I was an objective observer. I was trying to discover the human tragedy in that conflict ­ how a common man got sucked into that and the consequences. In fact, many from the army came out in support of Haider.

I can understand the pain of lakhs of Kashmiri Pandits who were displaced from their homes overnight. My family was among them. We were once served eviction orders and had to leave our house.My father died on the road. Obviously , what we as a family went through is nothing compared to the tragedy of Kashmir Pandits which, I feel, is greater than even that of Kashmiri Muslims. Their story needs a film on its own.

People called Haider a brave film but you know what was the price I had to pay? Because of the threats, I had to move around with a personal security guard. No matter where I was ­ whether in the car or playing tennis ­ the guard would guard me all the time, impinging on my personal space. Forget about freedom of expression, my own body’s freedom was at stake now.

There is no place for violent protests in any democracy . I was in the US recently when Citizenfour, the documentary based on Edward Snowden and the NSA scandal, was successfully released without a single theatre being vandalised. The US could have easily banned that film. Yet, despite Snowden being perceived as an enemy of the state, they didn’t. You can argue that America is an evolved society , and that we are getting there. Still, why do people resort to violence?
Perfect democracy is one in which you can have healthy disagreements. Right to protest -peaceful, if I may add -is a fundamental right of a democracy . But not violent protests. Violent protests are symptoms of a disease. The disease is somewhere else. If you are running a temperature and your body is hot, you don’t sit in the fridge or sleep on a slab of ice to cure it. You go to a doctor. The doctor then finds out what the problem is, locates the infec tion and treats you only after he has all the information. The real disease is that we don’t respect our democracy and we don’t respect our freedom of speech. And law enforcement agencies are not doing their job to protect films that have been cleared by the necessary authorities. If we don’t put a stop to this, we are in danger of becoming China or Pakistan. At the same time, I also want to say that a film like Haider could have only been made in a country like India. Nowhere in South Asia will you be allowed to make such a politically-charged film.

But banning films is not the answer. Take the smoking disclaimer issue, for instance. Putting a disclaimer every time somebody smokes on screen is not the answer. If M F Husain had painted a man with a cigar, would you have asked him to put the disclaimer, `Cigarette smoking is injurious to health’ on the painting? I see this as a larger problem. It’s an organised way of telling artists, `Don’t do this,’ or, `We’ll teach you a lesson.’ You scare them so much that next time, they will think hundred times before making a film that might offend you.

Thank God that artists are fearless by nature.So, what’s the next best thing? Curtail their finances, which is being done in an organized way . Films like pk and Haider are made examples of because films are the most powerful franchise of freedom of expression.

I hope we are taken seriously by the government and not merely seen as naachne-gaane waale. It’s the duty of law enforcement agencies and government to protect us. Artists and their voices need to be protected. A nation’s history is written by artists.We know of India through Khajuraho and Konark, through our paintings, writings and sculptures.

But coming back to protests against films, I have no problems with it. In fact, I’m grateful to the protestors. Because of them, people got curious and actually went and saw Haider. It made some money . It’s my most successful film at the box-office to date.

As told to Shaikh Ayaz

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1 Comment »

  1. Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people for the people. (Oscar Wilde)
    Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. (Bernard Shaw)
    Democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.(Sir Winston .s. Churchill)
    Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike. (Oscar Wilde)
    If somebody wants to trouble his rival, he simply says that his sentiments are being hurt and also resorts to various protests and
    booing. One man’s meat is another man’s poison.


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