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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 50 New Delhi December 5, 2015

Aamir Khan, P.B. Acharya, Gajendra Chauhan

Sunday 6 December 2015, by Humra Quraishi

MUSINGS

What tolerance are we showing for Aamir Khan’s harmless little utterance along the strain that his wife, Kiran Rao, had contemplated moving out of here as she feared for the safety of their child in this atmosphere hanging heavy with intolerance? What tolerance are we showing for the flow of thoughts, of words, of sentiments, of emotions? What tolerance we are showing for dissent—for the sane voices of dissent? What tolerance are we showing for arts and artists and for their very creativity? What tolerance are we showing for discussions and that basic exchange of ideas, for that to and fro of view and viewpoints.

The fact is we are getting intolerant by the day. The fact is the government of the day is stuffed with hardliners who want to rule this land according to the well embedded notions of the RSS ideology—which carries a definite agenda, and it’s this very RSS agenda which is being put into practice at all possible levels, in every possible spheres. In fact, just this week we heard the Governor of Assam, P.B. Acharya’s communal one-liner—‘Hindustan for Hindus!’ Enough to relay that Muslim and Christians have no place here, on this land. Tell me what action has been taken against this Governor, who is sitting in style in the Governor’s House yet talking like an RSS pracharak or mahapracharak! Shouldn’t this Governor be forced to step down? Sacked for times to come? But nah, no action has been taken against him. Nobody has asked him to pack his bags and get moving out. Tell me, why is P.B. Acharya allowed to ‘govern’ the people of Assam when his speech was riddled with communal nonsense? Who needs this third-class governance?

And let’s not be hypocrites and says all’s well! No, all’s not well here. There is an atmosphere of insecurity and unease and fear. Nobody is too sure whose face could be blackened, whose head could be smashed, whose name or surname could be hacked along with the basic vitals, whose home could be intruded into, whose works and creativity could be questioned, whose rationale and writings could be dubbed anti-national, whose neck could be twisted, whose religious sentiments could be questioned, whose identity could be ridiculed or suspected...

And let’s not take cover under that silly alibi that there’s violence all over the world and we are comparatively better off. For one, this is a stale argument and does not carry merit, as partitioning has been ongoing rather too blatantly in these recent months, and minorities and other disadvantaged communities are living in fear. Few have the courage to speak out...

Super star Aamir Khan had the required platform and occasion to speak out his and his wife’s fears or apprehensions. What if a lower middle class Khan had spoken out? By now he would have been booked a hundred times by the overenthusiastic cops or lynched by the RSS cadres.

As an Indian Muslim, I have been feeling and experiencing a sense of insecurity—seeing riots after riots, demolition of the Babri Masjid leading to demarcations and deprivations and an atmosphere of fear of the aftermath. In fact, my short stories and my novel carry ample strains of this pain and anguish together with apprehensions of what more could be in store in these politically twisted times. After all, a writer does not write in some sort of a vacuum. If one is writing in these dark times then shades of the ongoing turbulence does creep in ...more than creep in. The apprehensions and anguish get writ large in those words.

Reality of these Dark Times ...

The political top brass could be globe-trotting, stating from world’s podiums that all’s going great here, but these are indeed dark times. Don’t know whether darker shades will drag along hellish turns but what more hellish disasters can come along? Today sane voices are being made to shut up by violent political brigades who seem hell-bent on creating an atmosphere riddled with fear and violence. In fact, news just coming in more than relays that Aamir Khan is planning to send his wife Kiran and son Azad out of Mumbai for the coming few days as he fears protests against him might get louder. Not to overlook the fact that Kiran Rao had been in the forefront for the ouster of the Right-wing man, Gajendra Chauhan, as head of Pune’s FTII. A mediocre actor, Chauhan, had been hand-picked for that top slot because of his political closeness to the top brass.

Where are we going? What are we doing? What more disasters to emerge? ...Don’t tell me the RSS will rule this land in that blatantly fascist way and with that the rest of us will be thrown about, kicked about here and there. It’s horrifying how a simple little utterance from Aamir Khan could get blown out of proportion and out of context, and with that politically charged brigades out in the open, shouting in the crudest possible ways.

Creativity Getting Cut So Very Severely! 

Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nilalani, giving directions for pruning of kissing scenes in a James Bond film, reeks not just of callousness but also of sheer hypocrisy. He should try and put an end to all those stupidly vulgar pelvic and bosomy thrusts in Bollywood films and then come to kissing scenes!

Isn’t he one of those characters handpicked for the Censor Board? Handpicked for his political connections!