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Mainstream, VOL 61 No 28, July 8, 2023

Why make a film on a Hindu epic in today’s polarised atmosphere in India | Justice Katju

Friday 7 July 2023


by Justice Katju

These days there is a lot of controversy on the social media about the Hindi film Adi Purush, some saying it is an insult to Lord Ram, Hanumanji, the Ramayan, and Hinduism.

I have not seen the film. In fact I have not seen a film for about 40 years ( except a very few on Youtube ).. But I have seen its trailer and some scenes on Youtube.

I have no objection to the words used in it like ’’ Tel tere baap ka, aag tere baap ka, aur jalega tere baap ka ’’.

My objection is something much more fundamental. Why make a film on a Hindu epic in today’s polarised atmosphere in India, when what is needed is unity among our people, and a powerful united struggle people’s struggle to combat the evils of massive and widespread poverty, unemployment, malnourishment, lack of healthcare and good education, etc to create a political and social order which abolishes these evils and gives people decent lives? What is needed in India today are not religious films but films that help and inspire the people in this struggle.

A good example is the film ’Battleship Potempkin’ by the famous Russian film director Sergei Eisenstein, which inspired the Russian people.

Other such examples are films like ’Mandela-the long walk to freedom’ ( which is about the life of Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid in South Africa ), ’The Patriot’ ( which is about the American War of Independence ), ’Birth of a Nation’ ( which is about Nat Turner’s revolt against slavery in America ), ’Spartacus’ ( which is about the revolt of slaves in ancient Rome, led by a gladiator ), ’To kill a Mocking Bird’ ( which is about an American lawyer standing up bravely for a black man falsely acused of raping a white girl ), ’Grapes of Wrath’ ( which is about the travails of a farmer’s family which had to migrate from Oklahama during the Great Depression in America ), ’Mulk’ ( which is about oppression of a Muslim family in the
communally charged atmosphere in India ), etc.

Raj Kapoor, Satyajit Ray, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, etc, made films on social themes critical of social evils. We need films of those kinds.
Instead we are getting films with religious themes on Hindu epics like Adi Purush, or historical themes like Padmaavat and Samrat Prithviraj, which may earn a lot of money, but do not have any social relevance, and do not help the people in their struggle for a better life.

This is my objection to Adi Purush, not what others say

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