When a section of the Hindi film industry came together to circulate an open letter against voting in non-secular forces, of which I was a part, the idea was not to single out one individual or a party, but speak out against the current tide of politics being fought on the basis of religion. It was screenwriter Anjum Rajabali’s idea to initiate this written voice of protest, and we supported it, because we were all concerned that we were heading towards a dangerous, non-secular society.
This will, of course, affect the film industry too. In a certain sense, I feel the film world has been till now a sort of secular space, where merit and talent score above other factors. I’m yet to come across a case where a director or actor or crew member was chosen on the basis of his or her religion or political leanings. Of course, we have our own political preferences, but it doesn’t affect our professional decisions.
I fear that could change. I was shocked that the statement we put out has already invited such criticism and outrage. Those who don’t agree with us, or those who are openly supporting one or the other party and campaigning for them, are saying it has created a rift within the industry, and divided the film fraternity in two.
I’m hoping against hope that the new government doesn’t go off on the anti-minority tangent we all fear it will. As far as censorship in films go, we will have to wait and see if it gets worse. I don’t think the financing, casting and success of commercial cinema will stand to face any major issues under a Modi government, because that kind of cinema doesn’t work on the whims of one person or party. But indie, cause-based cinema will probably have to fight harder. After all, theirs is a fight against the prevailing system, they have to uphold a sense of social justice, and if the upcoming order turns out to be one of oppression, it will reflect on the kind of the films they will make. Will they be allowed to voice those concerns? It’s too soon to say. But I’m also hoping the government doesn’t prove to be regressive enough to put a ban on films that have already been made on the Gujarat riots. That said, if a regressive wave does indeed sweep the country and change India’s direction and its secular principles, the citizens will resist. That much I can predict with certainty.
As told to Neha Bhatt
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.
Here is from today's news items which shows the stark reality in the ground and the modi hate gang in action. For all of those who bury their heads in sand and do not want to acknowledge the intimidation tactics used by modi and his hindutwa gang, an example to open your eyes:
"Police security cover for Ananthamurthy’s house:
........The threat perception is seen in the light of Dr. Ananthamurthy’s statement in the run-up to the polls that he would not like to live in a country where Narendra Modi was the Prime Minister.
Soon after the election results were out, a group of people started campaigning for Dr. Ananthamurthy’s departure to Pakistan, the police said.
Not only did Dr. Ananthamurthy get several phone calls asking him to leave the country, several hate mails and messages against the writer were posted on social networking sites, the police said........"
Let us all hope that this is not just the beginning of talibanization of the country. The authors' fears are well founded. Just imagine if these goons have the nerve and mindset to threaten an internationally acclaimed Jnanapeeth award winner (Anantamurty is a Jnanapeetha award winner and a Booker award finalist), what will be the fate of a commoner who disagrees with modi and his fanatic gang? I know that some will point to the treatment of Rushdie by the Islamic fundamentalists, but is that where we are headed?
Just stick to your profession you moron.
"I was shocked that the statement we put out has already invited such criticism and outrage."
You can guys can criticize but no one should criticize you!!!
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT