Last month, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati, currently being shot, met with the ire of Karni Sena on the grounds that the film "distorted history"
Raja Andhayug chortled with glee. "It is a great time to be a Raja. I'll have along innings,' he said. "That's wonderful, but why do you say so now?" asked Vidhushak. "As Hamlet said, the readiness is all. For us, suspicion is all," the Raja replied. "Suspicion is proof. That's all we need to rule our kingdom."
"That Sanjay Leela Bhansali, wicked fellow. He dares to make a film on Queen Padmavati," the Raja continued. "We are suspicious that he may film a love scene between Queen Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji. So we sent our Shri Rajput Karni Sena to thrash him and vandalise his film sets. We made sure that the police were too busy eating paan to take action. After all, the law is in our mutthi and we will rule this country as we please, and revive the glory of the golden Vedic Era."
"Did our Karni Sena see any footage of the love scenes that they found objectionable?" Vidhushak asked. "Arre, you silly fellow, I'm not sure he has even shot them! We are suspicious he will do it, that's enough for our vandals. Mind you, the Karni Sena are a noble people, they even have a Karni Mata temple where they pray to rats."
"You mean if Gujaratis or others enjoy an extra-marital affair, they can call it a "maitri karar" friendship agreement, but if somebody from a certain community has an affair, then it is love jihad, therefore our pure wives must immediately commit jauhar or self-immolation?" "Ejjactly, you got it," the Raja said, pleased. "You mean just like Mohammad Akhlaq, who was lynched to death in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh, simply on suspicion that he had stored beef in his refrigerator?"
"Ejjactly," Guru Tamasoma butted in. "What more do you need to kill poor people of a certain minority? Our Ministry of Hurt Sentiments will simply circulate a rumour about being hurt by others eating beef, or about the greatness of Hindu women's purity. Bas, leave the rest to our brave mobs! Arre, look at the majja. Our local court even directed that an FIR be registered against Mohammad Akhlaq - after he died - as well as his family, under animal cruelty laws, ho, ho."
"But, isn't our party standing firmly with Tamilians, defending their ancient cultural right to torture bulls in jallikattu, to whip them, shove chilli powder in their anuses and bite their tails until they panic? Isn't that also animal cruelty?"
"Don't ask silly questions now, Vidhushak," said the Raja. "When we torture animals or a certain community tortures animals, how can it be the same thing? You're getting old now."
"Ah, you mean it's like Rohit Vemula, the talented young Dalit student, who was driven to suicide because he was persistently denied his stipend, framed and had sanctions imposed, preventing him from studying properly?"
"Ejjactly," Guru Tamasoma said. "We were suspicious — how dare a Dalit try to study hard and get good marks like upper caste boys? Luckily, he committed suicide and saved our ABVP boys the bother. We even made ulloos of everyone by proving that he was not Dalit at all, so the upper castes can relax in their post-truth glory."
"Yeh duniya agar mil bhijaye, toh kya hai?" Vidhushak wondered, sighing deeply.
Meenakshi Shedde is South Asia Consultant to the Berlin Film Festival, award-winning critic, curator to festivals worldwide and journalist. Reach her at email@example.com