Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” And earlier last week, perhaps the most telling example was dished out from, where else, the world of politics. Uddhav Thackeray in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece extended the proverbial olive branch and hinted at an alliance with Raj Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. Since he is now out on drought visit, nothing further to report except that political analysts, who were all expecting this sooner or later, are a little surprised at how soon it happened after late Bal Thackeray’s demise in November 2012. It’s all about loving your family, as K Jo told us ages ago.
That apart, Mumbai, pretty much like the rest of country exploded in anguish over stalling of Vishwaroop and cases against Ashish Nandy. Must say, we are pleasantly surprised by Bollywood’s all out support for Kamal Haasan (including Salman Khan hosting the premier in Mumbai) considering we are not known for taking political stands. Vandana Khare, who staged Marathi version of Vagina Monologues, told Outlook, “Cultural terrorism is an apt term for what happened. I do not have a problem with the fact that some fools feel Muslims have been depicted badly but they are not representative of entire Muslim population. If you don’t like something, don’t watch. Make a film to counter that perspective if you wish. Culture is not some one person’s custody. Culture, like water, needs to flow and not remain stagnant.”
Shyam Benegal, too was scathing. “Is this how democracy supposed to work? The government is supposed to serve the people and protect the filmmaker in a manner that is approved by the central government. Eventually they can’t stop the release but who will pay for the losses? The government has abdicated itself. It should be made accountable for the losses as well.” Haasan who has just managed to reach a compromise must be hoping for recovering whatever he can. The film has apparently opened well in other parts and has had a good weekend.
Spoilt for Choice
However, this week it must be hard for any film to do well. It seems like an explosion at the box office with Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children, Haasan’s Vishwaroop, Bejoy Nambiar’s David, Mai in which Asha Bhosale makes her debut as an actor, Mani Ratnam’s Kadal, a modern urban mature love story titled Premachi Goshta starring one of the finest actors from Maharashtra, Atul Kulkarni. And amidst all is the come back of the Chamko couple, Farooque Shaikh and Deepti Naval in Listen…Amaya.
And that is not all. Alyque Padamsee returned to the stage with Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The play remains as gut wrenching as ever, with Padamsee and Sabira Merchant making it only more powerful and painful at the same time. Padamsee in the introduction said, “This drama is set in a time of recession very much like ours today. The iron grip of reality has an uncanny way of crushing dreams. But Miller says a salesman’s got to dream. It comes with the territory.”
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
It is simply not possible that the two Thackeray cousins, Uddhav and Raj would ever unite. Reality is that Raj considers himself as a much better leader than his cousin (and undoubtedly he is) and Raj has single handedly nurtured his political outfit Maharashtra Navnirman Sena(MNS). In such a scenario not many MLAs and other elected representatives of MNS would like to Raj to do anything that would reduce their importance.
Further, Raj is self appointed number one in his party. In Shiv Sena he would be No. 2 at best. It is, therefore, unlikely that Raj will ever make any special efforts to have a grand alliance with Shiv Sena at the State level. At local levels, in municipal elections etc, he would certainly make friendship with Uddhav’s party for mutual benefit.
It seems, the first part of the writing, was to explain how movies are relevant to reality, first, and why?
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