Tag: religion

Step Aside, Religion A. I’m Religion B.

As narrated by my sweetheart of a sister, A.

It was a CST-bound train through Kurla which was now chugging towards Kanjur Marg, its next station. A lady boarded with some difficulty and then experienced more of it when the time came for her to find a place to stand. Sitting is out of the question in Mumbai local trains unless you are a shameless superhero, as you may know. The problem was not her bulky frame but the huge blue bag that she was carrying in her hands. And the people who aggravated the problem were the ones who boarded along with her.

I was standing with my back leaning against one of the sides of an entrance which is where the lady and the people had got in through. As the train started moving, shouts and hoots from the people began reverberating in the train car. The case in point: the lady not allocating enough space for the people who would want to alight at the next station, Vikhroli. Earlier, while the lady was trying to find a place to stand properly so that she could also keep her bag safely somewhere near, the people were barging in from behind her not letting her even move, let only scrounge and find a nook. Like a girl would throw in a vibe of interest to a boy that she is interested in, I moved aside a little so as to give the lady at least some breathing space. She took notice and glided in, and the people who were noticing, too, as it appeared, took advantage of the opportunity and accommodated themselves in the little cavity that she had just created, further aggravating the situation. As a result, the lady stood there in the packed car like a TV remote that has slid behind a couch and which is holding itself against the wall unable to fall completely down to the floor nor defy gravity and move up where it got dropped from by that annoying 3-year old boy you have got yourself as your neighbour.

Within seconds, the shouts increased by both numbers and volume. People were bashing her for not providing space for them to move like they were on a cruise trip. Apparently everyone wanted to get down at Vikhroli, which, you should know, is not a famous place if you are not a Godrej employee. She tried to calm them sweetly down by reiterating her situation if it was not clear enough, but the people didn’t budge. I was her only source of sympathy, but then sympathy doesn’t help you when it is something else that it is all about. And she was further criticized for bringing her bag with her, for obstructing way, for not being able to find a good place quickly which moved the argument to her not being from Mumbai at all, and ultimately for being a person who follows, say religion A.

That is the primary reason. That the lady belonged to religion A that the people who belonged to religion B were so pissed about. Religion is the reason why sympathy won’t help. All that bashing the lady sustained was not for being inefficient in travelling in a Mumbai local train on a sweltering afternoon but because of hailing from a sect that practices religion A. Because religion A has no say or place when the train car is filled with religion B.

And sorry, I forgot to mention that I follow religion C and I could detect people of at least four more religions in that train car where this situation occurred. And as is always the case with religious uproar, the people still got down at Vikhroli, and then at Ghatkopar, and then at Kurla because Vidyavihar is a joke. The lady got down at Kurla and everyone went home proudly for having kicked up a ruckus for nothing. Nothing at all.

Ban On PK Will Be Murder Of Creativity

Just before the beginning of this millennium, Deepa Mehta struggled with the release of her first instalment in the Elements trilogy, Fire (1996) as some Hindutva bullies said its homosexual themes and adultery are against Indian culture and tradition. In the previous decade, at least one film per year had been deemed unfit by India’s callow Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC). While the board consists of a bunch of worst film critics in the world, the damage is borne by the filmmakers alone. But when a film which has been widely released and then deemed unfit by self-appointed censors, it marks a point in history which we can lavishly term as the “murder of creativity.” Only difference: here the damage is shared by the audience.

Rajkumar Hirani’s Aamir Khan-starrer PK is now being considered an anti-religious element as it trashes the idea of God. So they say, the hindutva bullies have the whole plot of the film as a weapon for their cause. While the film has been successfully accepted by audience and critics alike, there is no doubt that it addresses a stark topic that we all seem to have put into saturation for ages now. I, for one, think the film was an average drama that briefly forces its audience to question the religious orientations and practises they follow. The people who are seeking a ban on the film should accept the fact that the film has been widely released and most of the people who watch movies for entertainment and other purposes have seen it. So, their argument is invalid.

While the CBFC has strangely stood in defense of the film, the bullies do not seem to  be retreating. The only thing that can be derived from this adamant behaviour of the bullies is that at a time when free speech is being hugely advocated around the world, a priggish squad can snip it using outdated ideologies. Historically, the power of a faction in general has always been questioned. But when free speech is involved, these factions always seem to defy history. Reason? The topic. When Anurag Kashyap refused to add anti-smoking warnings on his film Ugly (2013), he was threatened with halt of its release. Eventually, he had to give in. Cigarettes and smoking are big topics that are debated around the world, and our government earns a lot from its business. Similarly, PK is related to religion and deities, which is even bigger and an object of a highly lucrative business worldwide.

This means that when creativity slithers out of its box and touches topics like religion, its span is numbered. And if it somehow manages to stay, it is murdered, to both dissolve its influence and create and drop another example in the ocean. Creativity cannot grow if it doesn’t influence our surroundings and the way we lead our lives. But this incident will warn some experimenters and then we have to rely on our individual intuitions and imagination to come up with ideas that we unfortunately cannot share. There is no ready solution for this unwarranted censorship which will be cumulative in its process and a grave problem future generations will have to handle. My instincts say they will.