It has been a chaotic beginning to the year so far. The whole world it seems is dying to take offence at something or the other ISIS, the censor board, random groups, state police — almost anyone who is anyone. It doesn’t matter what you do you make a movie against god men, the right-wing gets offended. You make an online video mocking yourself, a member of the censor board makes, well, ‘censorious’ remarks about it and the video gets pulled off. You write a book eulogising Sonia Gandhi and it gets blocked for years till the opposition comes to power.
Are you a free-thinking person who enjoys art, culture and a good laugh? Well, you are a minority in India . Pic/Thinkstock
Incidentally, nothing will happen to you if you are in any way affiliated to any political party. Then you can bad-mouth any thought, film, person, idea, whatever you want and get away by saying you were quoted out of context. Or better still, that this is media mischief, a very valid allegation these days.
India is teeming with moral uprighteousness. Almost everyone has decided that there are no adults with their own brains, discretion or judgement, in India. And everything they see, watch and hear has to be cleaned up. Soon we should be getting the moral police banging at home asking to see what books, DVDs, paintings we own and whether these are suitable for us. Then there is the spectre of censorship of TV content, that the new Central Board for Film Certification’s chairman, is so very keen on.
This column is not about freedom of expression and whether we should have it or not. Nor is it about how we are well on our way to becoming a Hindu version of all the countries we laugh and tsk-tsk about — Pakistan, China, North Korea. China, in fact, has a booming market in online content precisely because its films, magazines and television are not allowed to comment, discuss or explore any contemporary issue. Notice that all Chinese movies will be about some historical stuff which is so far back that no one can object. North Korea has no media to speak off, so it is great. People don’t discuss stuff. And in Pakistan, if they discuss anything, they just get killed.
This column is actually a safe, clean list of things we should watch, think, hear and see to achieve the national cleanliness that our moral fathers want us to. But we couldn’t find anything safe. Everybody has ideas, everybody is throwing them about. This whole democracy thing makes people think that they can discuss anything. So maybe we should start by telling our children to stop thinking, stop discussing. There are other minds, better than any of ours — let them decide what we should think, how much we should think and what should be discussed. Maybe if a story is clean enough we can even make a film from it.
Then we could teach our children the joys of being a murderer. You could have your statue somewhere or a flyover named after you.
And after we have bred one generation of Indians who are incapable of thinking for themselves, who need state-sponsored media to tell them how to live their lives we would have achieved what we set out to do — kill the idea of India that our founding fathers so wrongly thought we needed: a free, inclusive society.
The much reviled liberal — who loves a good argument based on facts and reading, who wants India to be the rocking picture of inclusiveness that its film industry represents, enjoys a drink and a funny video — well he is a minority. And he will be extinct soon. Don’t bother with him.
The writer is a media specialist and author. Follow her on twitter at http://twitter.com/vanitakohlik
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