Okay, so I will come out clean right at the beginning. I have seen only three Kamal Haasan movies in my life-Chachi 420, Hey Ram and Hindustani. I did like them at the time, but not the way I like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter or Star Wars now. This clarification was made to serve 2 purposes. One, I am not a raving Kamal Haasan fan who shall stand by him come what may. Second, that I admit I am not a movie expert (those self-professed experts who tell you which movie to see based on a highly complex and mysterious mathematical function).
So, this afternoon, just as I was going through the news, the reporter told that a PIL has been filed in the Madras High Court complaining about the recent Kamal Haasan movie Vishwaroopam hurting Christian feelings.
And I realized, this ought to be one of the biggest moments for Indian Cinema!
For, believe it or not, Kamal Haasan has accomplished the rare feat of making an out and out action movie that has managed to somehow hurt religious feelings of the two religions (which are generally seen at each others’ throats) that make roughly 55% of world population.
Personally, being a Hindu I feel a bit left out of the party. Let us hope that some enlightened Hindu organisation is able to find some flaw that ought to hurt my feelings. Then, that would make us a truly united and secular country. Isn’t that what reverse engineering is all about? If you can’t get secular by agreeing to each other, you find a way of agreeing to disagree with somebody else.
The most incredible thing about this episode is that the said film is not even a Historical drama (say about Shivaji and the Mughals), or about Christian missionaries, or about the many religious riots that have taken place in our country where there is ample scope of distorting or presenting an alternative view of history that may inevitably hurt someone.
No, nobody in this country is stupid enough to make a movie like that. That is why, unlike Hollywood which idolises history, both the good like Lincoln or the bad like the Holocaust, Indian children do not learn about their history from racy historical dramas; they learn how to flaunt their disturbing attitude from B-grade movies like Dabangg and Ready that end up getting 4 star reviews and a multitude of awards, while their imagination is ably restricted by katrina Kaif and Kareena Kapoor instead of effective Story telling, High quality animation or Science fiction.
No, because if somebody makes a movie about Akbar, Ashoka, or Mangal Pandey, we ought to step in and offer our expertise to right the wrong that has been done. Can’t Indians just sit quietly in their homes and not fret about what the neighbour or his distant relative might end up thinking when the movie portrays an opinion not shared by us? No, we ought to ban the stuff, coz we are an illiterate, aimless people that might end up in a theatre paying for a movie that we might not like. Or perhaps we didn’t like a movie and that’s why we wish to ensure we do not end up watching said movie again.
My point is, why keep up this hideous mask of secular, democratic, free thinking nation? With this attitude, does our country ought not to be compared to a state like Pakistan. At least they are so used to their negative portrayal throughout the world that they have stopped complaining. Did we hear people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, heck even the Taliban complaining about this movie? Afterall, from the trailers, it seems they are the guys being shot around in the movie.
My advice to Mr. Haasan is: By all means, go and live a better life in a First World country. If you are a good filmmaker, you will become incredibly famous, perhaps may even get a real Oscar. If not, there’s always the possibility of flinging a hundred bad guys (don’t mention their religion please) in the air single-handedly back in India. We seem to be kind of into that stuff. That doesn’t seem to hurt our sensibilities.