Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar on NDTV’s The Big Fight

Yes, I caught a little TV last night. A little less sleep as well! Was actually sitting down to watch my favourite shows on Star - Seinfeld & Friends, when I saw Ashutosh Gowarikar on the telly. I stopped, wondering how it had got this far. Very interesting actually. There was a panel that comprised film folk (Gowarikar, Farooque Shaikh, Sudhir Mishra, a fairly pansy Komal Nahata & another film critic), a lady historian, and the root cause of all the trouble in Rajasthan a certain Mr. karni (described as the patron(!) of the karni sena).

Some excerpts:

karni was ranting about his problem actually being with the depiction of Jodha Bai as Akbar’s wife when she was actually his daughter in law. He found that offensive & disparaging to the Rajputs. I wonder if that was actually the motivation behind it, but if it was I thought fair point. Until I heard Nahata speak. Nahata said that the movie had been in the making for 2 years, that the name had been in the offing for 5 months before the release of the movie. Why did the karni sena have to wait for the release to protest? Hmmm… Interesting.

Nahata also pointed out that none of the protests in Rajasthan were peaceful requests to cinema owners. He rattled off names & locations of various cinemas in Rajasthan & Madhya Pradhesh where the owners have said that they are scared as they’ve been told politely that their cinemas will be burned down if they screen the film. At this point Farooque Shaikh (ever the gentleman) asked whether this was a lawful form of protest. Why could they not go through the Indian Legal system, the courts instead of protesting in such barbaric ways?

The anchor (can’t seem to recall his name) pointed out that the legal system takes about 30 years to resolve a case & by that time the movie will have influenced crores of people. To which Farooque quietly said something to this effect, “If Rajput history hasn’t been hurt in 700 years, what difference could another few years possibly make?”! Hmmm… Very Interesting.

Mr. karni was making some noises in totally unintelligible English about the future possibility of Indira Gandhi being potrayed as Gandhiji’s daughter. The anchor then asked Ashutosh if he felt that he had an additional responsibility since he was making a movie on historical figures. Ashutosh (& the historian lady) agreed. Ashutosh said that he had spoken to the current Raja & Rani of the Kachchawa dynasty of Jaipur before he made the film & as part of his research, as Jodha belonged to their family. He stated that he had narrated his script to them & that they’d given him the go ahead with both the depiction of Rajputs in the film AND the name Jodha (as that was what they too believed her name to be, from among the plethora of names she is referred to by historians)! I’m assuming the right-wing brigade is now going to label this royal family of Jaipur, traitors & pseudo-hindus (HOW I ABHOR that term!)

At this point some of the film folk asked how many no-objection certificates should a film-maker obtain? In response to a later suggestion by an audience member, the historian lady also said that she “didn’t think it was practical”. A film-maker approaches the censor board for a certificate. Nowadays they apparently approach the animal welfare board for a certificate too. Ashutosh does his research very well, consulting Jodha’s descendants besides a variety of historians, yet he must strive for another few NOC’s! Farooque (by now the legal eagle) said that the right way of lodging a protest is to ask the censor board to step into court. Let them fight the case, why should the film-maker be constantly bothered?

A valid question came from the anchor again: What if someone makes a film deliberately tampering with history? Would the filmy panel still back his creative license?

Sudhir Mishra then gave the example of the despicable mee nathuram godse boltoay. He said that to him Gandhiji was the greatest son that India produced. He said that to him the very idea of the aforementioned (can’t bring myself to type out that name again!) play is anathema. He said he “abhors” it. Yet he will stand up for the playwright’s right to write & show it. This is the “bleddy” problem with moderates I think!

A few things that I’d like to say here:

What is the function of a sena? Debate? Obviously not. Then why are they being given an ear to?

I’ve said this here as well & I’m saying it again. One thing that these jokers don’t realise is that their protests are in vain. They’ve blown this thing out of proportion. Ashutosh is suddenly on prime-time television, talking about his movie. He’s not spending a rupee on promoting it on movie & music channels. Instead he’s part of a panel discussion to discuss his movie! WOW! The added curiosity will send more people to the cinemas. Despite the movie playing only 3 shows instead of 4, despite it not being shown in Rajasthan & now in MP (both despicable BJP states), the movie has made almost the same amount of money as the other box-office winner. Add two more states & it will easily overtake that crappy piece of film-making!

Instead, if they’d protested quietly, like the Opus Dei did to The Da Vinci Code, people wouldn’t have branded them as barbarians & would’ve heard their voice. The Opus Dei, after the movie had run it’s course, was quietly featured in the Indian Express & all doubts were dispelled about it’s beliefs. No harm done to them. But like I’ve said before, the Christian community in India is the model of good behaviour. Now I’ll be called everything from a “pseudo” (UTTERLY LAUGHABLE TERM, NEED A NEW NAME!) to a missionary to a church-agent! :-D

Anyway, over to the awam…


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