Another One Bites The Dust: The Satanic Verses Yesterday, Vishwaroopam Today, What Tomorrow?
That’s right, another one has bitten the dust.
Kamal Hasan’s much-anticipated movie Vishwaroopam was banned this week by the Tamil Nadu government following claims made by Muslim organisations that the movie portrays Islam and its followers in poor light. This, despite the censor board having cleared the movie with almost no suggested editing much before the release of the movie.This incident reflects poorly on India’s supposed democratic and secular nature.
We, as a country, have a long history in censorship of free thought. It began in 1975 when the Indira Gandhi government imposed censorship of the India Press during the emergrency. This prompted the ‘Times of India’ , in its obituary column the very next day,to carry “D.E.M O’Cracy beloved husband of T.Ruth, father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justica expired on 26 June”. The next most famous case of censorship that took place in India is also perhaps among the most famous cases in the world. In 1989, Salman Rushdie’s book, ‘The Satanic Verses’ was banned by the India government following widespread outrage over the book’s purportedly ‘anti-muslim’ contents. In the 1990′s, eminent painter MF Hussain was attacked by Hindu nationalist organisations for allegedly depicting Hindu gods and goddesses in sexually provocative poses in several of his paintings. He subsequently was forced to flee his own country following death threats that were growing by the date.
Several films, books, songs and even websites have been banned by subsequent websites for hurting the ‘sentiments’ of certain sections of Indian society. This, if left unchecked, could soon acquire dimensions of witch hunting. Last time I checked, we live in a free democratic republic where the freedom of expression is guaranteed. Agreed that some of these films and books hurt the sentiments of certain sections of society, but then, isn’t it a paradox to deny someone’s right to expression because someone exercises their right to expression by opposing it. Sounds confusing, but look at it this way. Sentiments and comprehension differ from person to person, society to society. One man’s good is another man’s bad. One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. One man’s masterpiece is another man’s ‘sentiment-hurting-work’. The best for one’s sentiments not be hurt by a piece of art, be it a movie or a book or website is to simply not partake in it, either by reading, watching or visiting. That is the best part of democracy. While one definitely has the freedom of expression, an individual also has the freedom of rejecting another person’s thought and expression, albeit in healthy, meaningful and non-violent ways, a lot unlike those being adopted by publicity-hungry organisations. Your sentiments being hurt gives you no right to stop someone else from watching or reading a movie or a book.
So, moral of the story. If you don’t like Vishwaroopam for some reason and feel it is hurting your sentiments, don’t watch it. Simple!
Note: The author of this article is religiously neutral and does not belong to any religion. The views expressed in this article are of the author alone and not necessarily those of mutiny.in. Healthy feedback and criticism is invited at email@example.com