Freedom of speech and expression in India is just a fancy notion, to be invoked in debates and speeches and then forgotten forever till next time. The government has taken for granted its right to squash the freedom of speech at its whim and fancy, and people don’t seem to care as long as their “right” to torrent movies and TV series is not trampled with.
Movies more violent than petrol-bombers?
Coming to Vishwaroopam, the movie was released all over India except in Tamil Nadu. Even if we ignore that no one among the ones who have actually seen it have called it non-secular, just the fact that NO VIOLENCE HAS BEEN CAUSED BY THE MOVIE IN AND ACROSS THE PLACES IT WAS RELEASED should be a hint enough for the TN government to lift the ban, apologize to the Haasans (yes, to Shruti Haasan too) and put behind bars those hoodlums who threw the petrol bombs… well you and I would think so, but did the government do so? They were still adamant on the “violence-inducing” tendencies of the movie, forced Haasan’s hand to cut seven scenes from the movie and made HIM apologize. Let the government enjoy its magnanimous power and impunity while we move on to the next issue.
A television drama
For the SRK issue, now to be honest, the media is to be blamed here more than the general public. Media is the one who had access to his article first when most people hadn’t even read it (and chances are they would not even read it). But while to the normal eye the article had nothing speculative in it, to the TV channels’ eyes, the article had a week’s worth of high TRP drama and the potential to get the entire country hooked to the idiot box and waste their time. FirstPost even went ahead and said SRK is biting the hand that fed him and people put him on a pedestal even while he possesses no discernible skills. To clarify, did he ask the people to “put him on the pedestal”? Alright he did! But so does Uday Chopra and he possesses no skills either, why don’t people put him on the pedestal? Get the point? So it’s better if media doesn’t mix issues just for the sake of earning some additional readership, and by the way after a week’s worth of torture for the entire nation and when SRK came out with a clarification press con, the same media carried bulletins and articles about how a tortured soul SRK is made to apologize and how he will have to strive through this mess.
Coming to Ashis Nandy, he said, “Most corrupt people come from OBC, SC and ST category”, in an event (JLF) where he was invited to share his *opinions*!! Even after that, rather than asking him “dude present the facts or we are going to ignore you”, we went with the orchestra of “dude shut the fuck up or we are throwing you behind the bars”. Fine, he called them corrupt, but invoking the Prevention of Atrocities Act for this! Now of course we always get justice from the Supreme Court in the end, but doesn’t the preceding drama call for a new law: the General Category Act (Prevention of Atrocities On the Pretext of the SC/ST Act), 2013!
Oh, we are tolerant after all
It’s not like we Indians are not tolerant; we are! We don’t mind when our Home Minister makes some lame ass, without even providing a shred of proof for the remark about Hindu terror (which the terrorist organizations not only welcome but use to their advantage)… no sir, we don’t move to courts or come to streets for that, nor does the government order rolls of cellotape for his mouth. But Vishwaroopam, a work of complete fiction, which comes with a full disclaimer and all… that must be banned. The stand here, by the protesting Muslim groups should have been, “go ahead, release the movie, we are confident of our identity and existence, we don’t care what you say” but alas! Can’t blame them, the situation is the same everywhere, even some Sikh groups demand special screening of every single movie which has any mention or even close resemblance to anything “Punjabi”, and they express disapproval at criteria as insignificant for a movie as the beard of a Sardar (rather, an ACTOR playing a Sardar) being some micrometres deviating from the normal accepted standard.
Freedom of speech? We have plenty of it, after all don’t we allow Arnab and panel to go at it every single night without even giving a damn? Or haven’t we been keeping the likes of Digvijay Singh, Mohan Bhagwat, Asaram Bapu and such just for our entertainment’s sake? We do sir, we do have plenty of it, just not at the right time and not in the right places.