Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Why So Insecure?

A few years ago, a movie called 3 Idiots was released. Aamir Khan was the lead actor and it made a mockery of premier engineering institutes in India. I was, at that point, a student of one such institute, premier enough to be blamed for suicides of both students and unsuccessful aspirants. We all went out and cheered at Aamir's disregard for his professors' teaching methods and cursed teachers who threw us out of lab for untidy circuit diagrams. Our teachers, in turn, threw us out of lab for untidy circuit diagrams the very next morning. We all had fun watching that movie. Some professors may have altered their teaching methods after watching 3 Idiots. Some directors may have relaxed campus rules and some departments may have re-structured coursework. The others, who were fairly certain of the efficacy of their methods, took the movie in good humor and moved on.

If you have been wondering why I am ranting about a not-so-recent movie that I don't particularly like, allow me to get to the point. I loved watching PK. Congrats to the entire team involved in that movie! They have perfected the idea of "entertainment with a purpose". But alas, once again, mindless blabber turned out to be much better comedy. I am talking, of course, about the hilarious reaction PK has received from religious fanatics. If PK made my day, the religious gurus' responses have made my week. I ask them but one question: Why so insecure? If you don't see the point, why don't you just move on?

In a country where we frown upon everything from plunging necklines to pre-marital sex, Bollywood has always had the liberty to portray all of these and much more. We have routinely rooted for the uneducated hero trying to date a millionaire's daughter in the movie hall. When has that ever interfered with grounding our daughters for "talking to that guy"? We have shed tears for the on-screen beauty forced into prostitution and accused real-life rape victims of "revealing too much". So why create a ruckus over Bollywood crying foul on religious practices? Do you honestly believe that anyone will stop going to temples or mosques or wherever else they go to butter-up the Almighty just because Aamir Khan said so when pretending to be a confused alien? Do you think the idiots who believe God is all powerful and yet can be wooed by sweets and cash will stop believing so thanks to one movie? I wish that would have been enough to save Copernicus, to stop the Holocaust, to avoid Godhra or to educate a girl child. Yes I attacked your religion there. Please refer to your religious text for the appropriate punishment you are clearly entitled to inflict upon me. In the meantime, allow me to ask exactly why you are so afraid of anyone speaking against your religion? What exactly are you trying to protect? The almighty, the society or yourself?

Let us discuss each of the above possibilities. Let us assume you are trying to protect your almighty. Just like you try to feed him, make him promises of gifts in return of his cooperation, and try to keep him happy to avoid his temper. At this point this God character is beginning to sound like a rather ill-behaved child. I am pretty certain better qualifications are required for the post of "protector of mankind". So under the circumstances, unless you have completely lost your minds, I will assume you understand the circularity in protecting the protector. Hence, it was rather ridiculous of me to suggest that your reaction stems from the insecurity that someone might destabilize the Supreme Power armed with a 153 minute long commercial film. Let us move on to more realistic options.

It is our right to uphold the sanctity of our society. What are we, after all, without strict moral control and herd mentality? You are completely justified in trying to shield society from the evil that a Bollywood movie can cause. There are, after all, young minds we need to protect until we complete the brainwashing process. But here's my issue with that. You remember that movie celebrating the perfect bank robbery, or the one where the hero systematically murdered whoever wronged him? Did any of you launch a mass movement saying that they might be morally incorrect? Did you ever get up and protest the excessive alcohol and drug abuse many movies glorify? Did you question how item numbers affect the youth's perception of sexuality? Let's just accept it, you never spared a single thought about the effect of movies on society. Why, then, do you suddenly care this time?

Here's a theory: You don't care. You are not afraid that people might be misled. You are afraid for yourself. You feel threatened by PK. You stand to lose the unconditional devotion, the absolute control that being a religious leader guarantees. PK teaches common people to ask questions and that makes you nervous. But have you ever heard of scientists who fear being questioned on their findings? Do parents ever beat curiosity out of their kids? Why, then, are you so hungry for people's approval of your faith? Is it because your faith is only as strong as the number of followers it has? Or is it, perhaps, your own insecurity at play here? Maybe at some level you know the fallacy of what you preach and are simply afraid of being exposed. Maybe you know that the only way your faith will be taken seriously is if you have enough puppets tied to your holy thread!

I am pretty convinced it is self-preservation that you are aiming for. So here's something I'd like you to consider. Take a moment to strip off your religion, your accolades and your qualifications. Examine the person that remains. My question to you is simple: Who are you without your faith?


5 comments:

  1. My family blackmailed me to attend a keertan the very next day after watching PK. Leaving aside, what a colossal "you-missed-the-whole-point" that was, this is what i heard there - "tomorrow each of you should bring another person with you, if you hear this katha, you are guaranteed moksha, in fact even if you step in this pandal, you are are absolved of all your sins". I wondered, why is it so simple to get moksha, because I thought sadhus had to do penance for like ages to attain that. Then I figured if anyone gets anything from this mockery, it is the arti thali which gets a crisp green note whenever it makes the rounds. Also the lady presiding over this thing sitting on bejeweled throne chided a parent for taking their kids to the park because the kid quite guilelessly revealed that she is more interested in going to the park the next day. Also these guys shooed away 8-9 year old street urchins who were trying to look all bhakiful for a little bit of prasad. Overall, nothing I was not expected, and once again I wonder what is my place in this silly world.

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    1. I also resisted the urge to stand up and yell "Yeh wrong number hai".

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    2. Essentially it is all good business!

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  2. Tiyasa, well-thought and well-articulated arguments! The hostile reaction stems most likely from the innate fear of having to give up the idle yet secure way of living and essentially replace it with the hard way. Agreed that a movie, with its primary purpose of entertainment, cannot be expected to keep the whole country shaking for more than a while, but all of us - both the exploiters and the exploited - do need a wake-up call, even if their first responses are different. PK has been successful in providing the wake-up call; we should now focus on how to take it forward. What do you think?

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    1. I totally agree. In fact, all these people have managed to do with their protest is ensure each and every person watches the movie and thinks about what it has to say. That is where good sense triumphs!

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