After posting this blog I will take a brief sabbatical from writing blogs on films, as the political scenario beckons me. Elections have been announced in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh and political parties have started playing their same old dirty and nefarious tricks and games. I am feeling compelled to write on that.
This week I read a disturbing article on and about Manipuri films and the problems Hindi films are facing there. After reading that article several other related problems, which are being faced by Hindi films in various other parts of the country, cropped up in my mind. Then there was a news that Karan Johar was compelled to apologize for using Bombay instead of Mumbai in his latest flick, “ Wake Up Sid ”. There are other problems too that Hindi films are inflicted with. I have divided those problems in 4 groups :
1 – Strong Regional Film Industry
2 – Strong Regional Chauvinism
3 – Strong Religious Orthodoxy
4 – Terrorist’s Dictates
1 – STRONG REGIONAL FILM INDUSTRY :
It is true that Hindi is our national language and it is understood throughout India. So it is but natural that Hindi films should run everywhere in the country. But this is not the scenario. TAMIL, TELUGU, KANNADA and MALYALAM film industries in the south and BENGALI industry in the east are very strong. In these 5 provinces people prefer to watch their own regional films. They come to watch Hindi films rarely. These regions of India have and had stalwarts in every field of film making. If the Bengali film industry had directors like Satyajit Ray and Tapan Sinha and stars like Uttam Kumar, they still have directors like Mrinal Sen and Rituparno Ghosh and stars like Suchitra Sen and Debashree Roy. Obviously they are more than satisfied. If Tamil industry had stars like Shivaji Ganeshan, Jayalalita and M. G. Ramachandran and they still have stars like Rajnikant and Kamal Haasan and directors like Mani Ratnam and Sangeet Srinivasa Rao , definitely they are happy. Telugu industry too had stars like A. Nageshwar Rao and N. T. Ramarao, and they still have Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna, they don’t need Hindi film stars or films. Malyalam films also have fair share of stardom. They had Prem Nazir in olden days and they have Mamooty and Mohanlal now. They of course have directors like Adoor Gopalkrishnan and Shaji Karun. Kannada films of course had one man industry of Dr. Raj Kumar. Because of these stalwarts Hindi films suffer in these provinces and they are bound to play second fiddle to these strong regional film industries.
2 – STRONG REGIONAL CHAUVINISM :
India has many sub-nationalities. Every province has strong under-currents of its distinct culture and history. Maharashtra and Manipur are the glaring examples of this type of malaise.
In Manipur, some cultural organizations have issued dictates that no actress should sport Sindoor, Bindi and Saree on screen, as these things represent Indian culture and values. So if you are making a film in Manipuri, your heroines should always be seen in Manipuri attire. It surely limits the scope but who cares.
In Mahrashtra, the dictate from MNS is that you cannot call police havaldars as Pandu havaldar. You cannot show maids having Marathi names such as Kantabai or Shantabai. Here chauvinistic parties are fighting for the sons of the soil but if you show that sons of the soil are doing these jobs, trouble erupts and a Karan Johar is made to rush with folded hands to pacify these chauvinists.
Rajasthan is another example. Many factions of Rajputs protested against “ Jodha Akbar ”. They demanded a blanket ban. As per their version Jodha Bai never married Akbar. Protests continued for several weeks and the hapless Mr. Ashutosh Gawarikar incurred heavy losses.
3 – STRONG RELIGIOUS ORTHODOXY :
“ Jo Bole So Nihal ” was made by N. R. Pachisia. It ran into trouble because Sikhs felt that Sikh character played by the actor is not as per the tenets of Sikhism.
“ Love Aaj Kal ” also raised hackles among the Sikhs. They felt that trimmed beard sported by Saif is not right and that all the scenes should be deleted. Saif Ali Khan was forced to do the rounds of various Gurudwaras to pacify these elements.
From time to time various Muslim organizations in the country issued dictates that films are anti-Islamic and acting is against Islam, so it is kufr ( Un-Islamic ) to watch movies. They even decided punishments and started administrative measures to see that their orders are followed and obeyed. Religious and devout Muslims started avoiding the films and in Muslim dominated pockets there was a steep fall in the movie going public.
4 – TERRORIST’S DICTATES :
To show that their writs run large and they are capable of forcing their edicts on everybody, terrorists target films. Industry suffered during the dark ages of militancy in Punjab and in today’s Jammu & Kashmir all the cinema halls are closed in the valley. The populace is ordered to abstain from cinema halls.
There are small fringe elements and organizations in every nook and corners of our country and for them Hindi films are sitting ducks. The government of the day is happy to collect steep and hefty taxes from the Hindi film industry but they look other way when it is targeted. After Karan Johar’s visit to Mr. Raj Thackeray and his subsequent apology, Chief Minister of Maharashtra said that instead of going to Mr. Thackeray, Mr. Johar should have visited us. But he fails to tell us, what action his government took when a film passed by the Sensor Board was attacked by a mob. If the government of the day becomes a helpless spectator, then people can go anywhere for the relief.
It is becoming a trend but it is a very dangerous trend indeed.