Posts Tagged ‘M.F. Husain’

Now showing at a theatre of the absurd near you

30 January 2013


So, young Indians cannot tell their friends what they ‘like’ on Facebook, without being “pre-screened” by Harvard types (or hauled into a police station by Shiv Sena goons). So, bloggers cannot publish their “online private diaries” without the sword of 66(A) hanging over their heads.

So, tweeters can be blocked and Savita bhabhi‘s enviable lifestyle can be subject to some faceless babu’s sense of humour (or voyeurism). So, the Mahatma‘s life is beyond scrutiny in the land of you-know-who. So (oh!), Aamir Khan‘s film will not be screened in the land of you-know-who.

Or his TV show.

So, TV stations cannot show protests without threatened by the information and broadcasting ministry (or corporate titans). So, newspapers cannot report what their reporters see without being told that the tap of government advertisements could be turned off.

So, M.F. Husain cannot die in his own country. So, A.K. Ramanujam‘s interpretation of the Ramayana hurts somebody.

So, Ashis Nandy cannot drop his pearls on corruption without offending Dalits, tribals and OBCs. So, Salman Rushdie cannot go to a lit-fest in Jaipur (or Calcutta) without offending Islamist fundoos. So, Shah Rukh Khan cannot write what’s in his heart without offending.

So, Kamal Hassan‘s new film can be banned by a government run by a former film actor.

Sometimes, you do have to remind yourself it is a free country, don’t you?

Image: courtesy R. Prasad/ Mail Today

What it takes to alert people about snake bites

30 September 2012

It’s a Hindi movie called Jan Leva 555. It’s a “romantic musical mystery thriller spanning 555 years”—and 15 songs.  It’s due for release on October 19. And it stars our very own Kalpana Pandit of  1st main road, Yadavagiri, Mysore 570020.

Produced by Kalpana Pandit, MD, a former “Miss India USA” who belongs to the Nanjangud B.V. Pandit family, the movie aims to sensitise audiences to cobra bites; proceeds from the film will apparently go to buy ventilators for cobra-bitten patients and anti-vinen research.

Kalpana’s previous Kannada flick Jo Jo Laali dwelt on HIV.

News reports say Jan Leva 555 also stars Anant Nag in a Hindi film after two decades and Vyjayanthimala Bali (who was herself married to a doctor) after 42 years.

The Marimallappa’s college and Mysore medical college alum, who is a emergency doctor in Arizona, had previously acted in M.F. Husain‘s Gajagamini.


Visit the Facebook page: Jan Leva 555


Photograph: courtesy Indian Masala

Also read: Namma Nafisa owes it all to Nanjungud hallu pudi

All that namma hudugi has to do khuda ke liye

Rushdie: Listen to what the good doctor says

27 January 2012

Looking at all the shrieking and shouting on television (and reading the newspapers), it would seem as if the only people who have a view on the major debates of the day are: a) party spokesman with an agenda, b) fundamentalists with an agenda, c) party spokesmen and fundamentalists with an agenda masquerading as journalists and intellectuals without an agenda, and d) some extras who parrot out the most expected lines.

Communally sensitive issues like the Salman Rushdie episode, the A.K. Ramanujan essay ban, and the flight of M.F. Husain from the land of his birth, show how the nation’s discourse has been hijacked if not usurped by these “usual suspects”. It is as if the common men and women of India—Hindus, Dalits, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs et al—do not matter if they do not have a microphone attached to their lapel pins.

Here, a smalltown doctor pens his thoughts on l’affaire Rushdie.



It is sad that, thanks to pure vote bank politics, the controversial writer Salman Rushdie, without being allowed to visit India, was still allowed to stir the already impure and extremely murky waters of Indian politics.

Rushdie’s physical and even virtual participation at the Jaipur literary festival was reportedly cancelled at the last minute after Muslim groups reportedly threatened violence even if his image was shown in a video-conference.

But except for the stray pictures of slogan-shouting Muslims, very appropriately attired for the occasion in skull caps and jubbas, just like film extras, I did not even sense any tremor of opposition from any right thinking Muslims worth their name or salt against his participation at the litfest.

It was only the media which went overboard to give more coverage to Rushdie’s aborted visit to Jaipur, than what it would have perhaps given him if he had actually visited the place and the event.

For a five full days, more Rushdie and less literature was discussed at the litfest, which is indeed a shame.

It is now an established fact that the threat to Rushdie’s life was much magnified, if not fully concocted, by our intelligence agencies and vote-hungry politicians, especially at the Congress-centric government at the Centre and the governments of the two Congress-ruled States of Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

Although he has been allowed to visit the country in the past without any problems, this time these three agencies decided to ban Rushdie’s visit clearly to appease the Muslim voters and impact the outcome of the forthcoming elections in the northern States.

That is why the threats to his life were ‘perceived’ in Bombay, the hub of all our terror threats, by intelligence agencies and conveyed to their counterparts in Rajasthan. Although the former deny their role, the latter reiterate that they have concrete evidence of the same.

The DGP of Maharashtra has said that they had not provided any input to Rajasthan in this regard while the Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot has insisted that his government had received six messages from them about the threat.

Rushdie has no doubt faced death threats from fundamentalists ever since he wrote the controversial book but to give importance to the largely imaginary story that hired assassins were going to kill him in Jaipur this time shows how low even governments can stoop for imaginary vote banks.

It actually portrays our security preparedness in rather poor and unflattering light.

The man has actually derived much mileage from being controversial and our government does not realise that it has just augmented it.

The organisers of the Jaipur literary festival would certainly have known that his visit could spark protests and should have acted with a little more common sense and foresight before inviting him. The government too should have conveyed this possibility to the organisers since the visit was not at all a closely guarded secret.

Inviting Rushdie to the festival was clearly a very reckless and irresponsible act as it would have painted the whole of India in very bad light if something untoward had happened.

That there is much vote-bank politics behind this whole issue is eminently clear from the utterances of Sheila Dixit, the chief minister of New Delhi two days ago. Earlier in the day, she had told reporters that “one may have differences with what Rushdie writes, but he’s a very eminent writer and a Booker Prize winner who was welcome to visit Delhi.”

Barely hours after she praised him as a gifted writer she changed her mind. Her office issued a retraction stating that there is no question of welcoming the author of the banned “Satanic Verses.”

This sudden turn-around could only have been the result of a sharp rap on the elderly lady’s knuckles by her much younger lady mentor who undoubtedly wields the baton and the sceptre too.

In reality, banning his book has not prevented any determined readers from reading it. It has been always available to all and sundry except to our government from the black market. In five minutes it can be downloaded from the net and this can never be prevented by any kind of ban.

I certainly was very eager to find out what was bad in it and I found out very quickly too when I could borrow a copy from one of my teachers just a few days after it was proscribed. Since I have read everything that Rushdie has written, I feel it is not the ability to write well but his tendency to stamp on others’ toes deliberately which has made him famous.

This habit is the forte of all those without real talent. I do not endorse anyone making fun of Gods and Goddesses or revered personalities or the sacred texts of any religion. I have therefore also been very critical of M. F. Husain’s portrayal of Hindu deities in poor taste.

As a Muslim I would like to reiterate that The Satanic Verses, a work of fiction penned by Rushdie, certainly cannot shake our faith.

The history of Islam is full of instances where the prophet was subjected to much harsher criticism, including being dubbed an imposter for many years. But at no point of time was he ruffled one bit by such opposition or condemnation. He calmly went about his work with full conviction that what he was doing was in accordance with what Allah had ordained for him.

Let me reassure all Indians and all those anywhere in the world, who think that Indian Muslims are even slightly preoccupied with this Jaipur event, that I do not see it as anything more than a ripple on the surface of Indian politics.

It will certainly not shake our composure or patriotism.

It is actually time now for both Muslims and Hindus alike to rise much higher than being perturbed by what the Rushdies and Husains do in their free time.

This time a tottering Rushdie whose ink has dried up, has only used a lame excuse very conveniently to avoid attending an event which he was just frightened of attending like a timid boy. Let us not offer him a Jaipur foot to enter our minds and disturb our mindset.

(K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician who writes a column for Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared)

Photograph: Sir Salman Rushdie with television anchor Barkha Dutt at the Jaipur literary festival in 2007 (courtesy Shelly Jain)

Also read: A Hindu iftar for a good Muslim doctor at work

All terror can be traced to injustice, inequality

The most difficult to cross is in your mind

One question Barkha Dutt should ask Rushdie

24 January 2012

After five days of dominating the Jaipur literary festival without even stepping foot in it, Sir Salman Rushdie will bring the curtain down on the final day; he will address the gabfest by a video link with NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt as his interrogator/interlocutor. (Oh, he won’t!)

These five days have been a signal lesson in India’s slow but sure march towards illiberalism.

Over five days, we have learnt that there is no ban on reading, possessing or downloading copies of The Satanic Verses;  just that the finance ministry has disallowed its import. But that has been sufficient for Islamist fundamentalists to bar Rushdie from stepping on the soil of the country of his birth.

Over five days, we have seen the Rajasthan government invent an “assassination plot” to keep Rushdie out, succeed in their efforts, and then deny their concoction. Over five days, we have seen the festival’s organisers behave like Team Anna, saying one thing one moment, exactly the opposite the next moment and both sometimes (while having grand debates on censorship).

Over five days, we have seen a lawyer (Akhil Sibal)—son-in-law of one of the organisers (Namita Gokhale) and son of the Union IT minister (Kapil Sibal)—who “defended” M.F. Husain when he was being targeted Hindu fundamentalists, being deployed to urge authors (like Hari Kunzru, Amitava Kumar, Ruchir Joshi, Jeet Thayil) to sign papers that they read passages from the book so on their own volition, and so on.

What is the one question Sir Salman Rushdie must be asked this afternoon?

Like, should Rushdie be asked to repeat what he told Rajiv Gandhi in an open letter in the The New York Times in 1988, when The Satanic Verses was banned:

“By behaving in this fashion, can [India] any more lay claim to the title of a civilised society? Is it no longer permissible, in modern, supposedly secular India, for literature to treat such themes? What sort of India do you wish to govern? Is it to be an open or a repressive society?”

Cartoon: courtesy Surendra/ The Hindu

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Is India a liberal republic?

CHURUMURI POLL: Is India a liberal Republic?

20 January 2012

On the eve of the 62nd anniversary of the “sovereign socialist secular republic”, a nice little knife has been stuck into the heart of liberal India by goondas and moral policemen. The author Sir Salman Rushdie has pulled out of the Jaipur literary festival following threats from “influential Muslim clerics” of the Darul Uloom Deoband, who suddenly remembered that his banned 1989 novel The Satanic Verses hurt the sentiments of Muslims ahead of the Uttar Pradesh elections.

Considering that the book was banned the cowardly Congress government of Rajiv Gandhi 23 years ago, it will surprise nobody that it was the cowardly Congress government of Ashok Gehlot that did the needful this time round. Instead of reassuring the world that the “Indian State” would protect every single individual, down to the last man, woman and child, even if he has offended the super-sensitive and super-patriotic—especially if he has offended the super-sensitive and super-patriotic—the Rajasthan government caved in to the thugs.

And the Manmohan Singh government meekly watched on—just as it meekly watched on when A.K. Ramanujan‘s essay Three-hundred Ramayanas was being proscribed by Delhi University (where Singh’s daughter works), under the benign gaze of Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dixit (peace be unto them).

While the Congress deserves every brick, shoe and invective hurled at it for the latest “stain on India’s international reputation“—on top of its execrable efforts to screen Facebook, Google and the media—no political party is properly clothed in this horribly naked hamaam which repeatedly and brazenly cocks a snook at free speech and expression.

# The warnings of Hindutva hitmen owing allegiance to the BJP drove M.F. Husain out of India, forcing him to live the last years of his abroad.

# NCP goondas burnt down a library in Poona because its author had used it to write a book on Shivaji, which they didnt’ like.

# In the glorious republic of Gujarat, movie watchers could not catch Parzania because–horror, horror—it showed the plight of Muslim victims in the 2002 pogrom; because, well, Narendra Damodardas Modi‘s government couldn’t offer basic security to theatres.

# Ditto Aamir Khan‘s Fanaa.

# And of course, the “alleged apostle of peace” couldn’t bear the hints of bisexuality in the real apostle of peace, so Joseph Lelyveld‘s book on Mahatma Gandhi was conveniently removed from the eyes of readers.

# In Left-ruled Kerala, a professors’s hand could be merrily chopped off with gay abandon by Islamists because he had mistakenly prepared a question paper that used the named “Mohammed” for a somewhat daft character. (And who can forget what happened to Deccan Herald, when it printed a short story titled Mohamed the Idiot.)

# Taslima Nasreen was unwelcome in Left-ruled Bengal because her views didn’t match those of the mullahs. (She was later attacked by Majlis MLAs in Congress-ruled Hyderabad and her visa reluctantly renewed by the UPA.)

# The BSP government of Behen Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh banned the film Aarakshan because of is “derogatory” take on reservations.

Questions: Are we really a tolerant, liberal nation open to views from all sides? Or in the 21st century, are we utterly incapable of using the word freedom without adding “but” to it?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Does freedom have its limits?

‘Online extremism has lowered tolerance levels’

What’s the correct word for a Hindu fatwa?

Free to live. Not free to do and say as we like?

Why we mustn’t ban the book on the Mahatma

Because P. Chidambaram is an honourable man

8 March 2010

Today, 8 March 2010—94 years and 6 months after he was born in Pandharpur, a Marathi manoos gave up the citizenship of his motherland, by returning his passport in Doha.



M.F. Husain has class. And the magnetism to bring every TV channel to his doorstep when he so decides.

One of the many astonishing things about him is that at 95 he knows what he needs to do and articulates it with amazing energy and self-assurance.

In a few sentences he shows the attributes that make him exceptional—his creativity (“ I cannot work without disturbance in India”), his maturity (“I do not  feel betrayed by anyone”), his supremacy (“A few people don’t understand art, that’s all”), his sense of history (“Civilisations  disappear, only culture lasts”), and his patriotism (“Wherever I am, I am an Indian painter”).

What Mark Antony said of Caesar applies here: “His life is gentle, and the elements  so mixed in him that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This is a man’!”.

TV discussions as usual revolved around the fatuous and the moronic: The man is free to live anywhere, his decision to accept Qatar nationality is of his own free will, why is it important to get him back to India, why Qatar which is not a democracy, and so on.

The real issue in the Husain controversy is none of these. It is, and has always been, aggressive communalism and the Indian State’s failure to protect a citizen from it.

To see this in perspective and  to understand the bankruptcy of Home Minister P.Chidambaram’s statement that India would extend all protection to the artist, we have only to recall how the British government handled a similar situation when Salman Rushdie came under the threat of a fatwa in 1989.

That Rushdie happened to be a British citizen was enough for the State to pull out all  stops and extend 24/7 protection to its citizen.

Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister then and she had reasons to adopt an Indian-style policy of platitude without action. In his writings, Rushdie had referred to Thatcher as “Mrs Torture” and as “Maggie the Bitch”. He had also described the British police as “neofascist”.

Yet when the call of duty came, Mrs Torture and the neofascists heeded it for the honour of Britain. The protection provided to Rushdie was so efficient that he could continue writing, travel and, in one defiant challenge to his detractors, appear on the stage at London’s Wembley Stadium during a packed music concert.

Diplomatic relations  broke between UK and Iran, but the UK establishment kept its citizen safe for nine years until the fatwa eased.

Chidambaram talks as if he doesn’t know of these things, and Chidambaram is an honourable man.

Perhaps, it is all to the good because Husain has won.

By underlining the primacy of art, by asserting the artist’s status as a citizen of the world and, above all, by pointing to major projects he has to execute irrespective of his age, Husain has placed himself unreachably above the hypocrisy of his communal detractors. He has won also because his decision to accept Qatar nationality has spread a sense of loss across India.

As Sharmila Tagore said, “We recognise our national treasures only when they are gone.”

If India being a democracy has not helped Husain, Qatar not being a democracy is a non-issue. Qatar has been liberal enough to make Al Jazeera  TV respected around the world for its independence. The Qatar Foundation has been sponsoring the BBC’s Doha Debate programme  anchored by Tim Sebastian.

The ruling Emir’s American-educated wife, Sheikha Moza, is the force behind the Qatar Foundation. She is a personal friend of Husain and has bought more than ninety Husains for the Qatar International Islamic Museum. Evidently, Sheikha Moza has the will to give Husain the undisturbed atmosphere he needs while P. Chidambaram only pontificates  for India.

And Chidambaram is an honourable man.

Photograph: courtesy The Indian Express

Also read: M.F. Husain: ‘Do you throw out a naughty child?’

Bolo Bharat mata ki jai, bolo it’s a work of art

‘Online extremism has lowered tolerance levels’

‘Online extremism has lowered tolerance levels’

5 March 2010

Apropos the plight of M/s Husain, Nasrin and Rushdie, the BJP strategist cum columnist Swapan Dasgupta offers this comment in today’s Telegraph:

“60 years of a democratic Constitution should have witnessed a steady expansion in the lakshman rekha of tolerance, and more so because the Hindu ethos is inherently accommodating and non-doctrinaire…. The opening up of the economy and the rise in prosperity did help shift the focus from the overweening preoccupation with sectarian concerns but there was no automatic drift to a more open society.

“In the past decade, the threshold of tolerance in India has been lowered considerably — thanks in no small degree to the takeover of the internet by competitive extremists. ‘Sensitivity to faith’ has come to mean accommodation of organized blackmail.

“The successful anti-Husain and anti-Taslima protests have to be seen in the context of a progressive shrinking of the enlightened public space. India imagined it would be a world player on the strength of its ‘soft power’. Today, that power is being steadily undermined by the clash of rival ghettos. The nonsense has gone on far too long and has touched dangerous heights. It’s time the country extends democratic rights to those who offend fragile sensitivities.”

Read the full article: Sensitive blackmail

Also read: ‘The lone ranger of loony Hindutva’ versus…?

Don’t laugh. Do journalists make good politicians?

For the BJP, is the pen mightier than the trishul?

Who are the journalists running, ruining BJP?

CHURUMURI POLL: Right to air Taslima’s views?

2 March 2010

The republication of Taslima Nasrin‘s 2007 essay on the burqa in Kannada Prabha, the riots that resulted in the death of two in Shimoga, the reported filing of an FIR against the Kannada daily and the “regret” expressed by the newspaper reopen an evergreen question: is the media within its rights to publish incendiary material knowing fully well its potential to wreak damage, or should it play safe especially when certain communities (read Muslims) are involved?

For the moment, the Bangladeshi author has washed her hands off the Kannada Prabha translation, leaving no doubt that it was unauthorised. Maybe, but so what; copyright is an issue between the author and the paper. The timing of the protests, just when Nasrin has sought a visa from India, and quite coincidentally in the beleaguered chief minister’s home-district, also raise some doubts of hanky-panky. Nevertheless, neither of those issues quell the bigger, fundamental questions.

Is it the media’s role in society to spark debate and discussion, or is it supposed to swim with the tide and coast along and protect public order, even if dictated by dogma and worse? If the Danish (and European) newspapers could en masse decide to publish the supposedly controversial cartoons on the Prophet despite knowing the havoc it could cause, do Indian publications have a special onus on them to not rock the boat? And, the eternal question: if it is OK to publish M.F. Husain‘s paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses, should the media take extra care to not hurt “religious sentiments” only when Muslims are involved?

Also read: Bolo Bharat mata ki jai, Bolo it’s a work of art

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

Free to live. Not free to do and say as we please?

3 February 2010

Professor Jyotirmaya Sharma of the University of Hyderabad and author of “Terrifying Vision”: M.S. Golwalkar, the RSS and India, in Mail Today:

“There is a significant difference between saying that all Indians are free to live wherever they want to, and saying all Indians are free to live where they want to and do what they feel like, live the way they want to and say what they wish to articulate.

“Living, doing and saying are activities and choices subject only to restrictions imposed by the Indian Constitution and the rule of law and are not activities that are hostage to the mercy of outfits like the RSS, Shiv Sena, VHP and the Bajrang Dal….

“In practical terms, this means that those Indians who choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day ought not to be attacked by the thugs of the VHP and the Bajrang Dal in the name of preserving Indian culture. It means James Laine has the right to write a book, using the resources of the venerable Bhandarkar Institute in Poona, without the Institute being attacked and vandalised by criminals of the Sambhaji Brigade.

“It also means that individuals have the right to convert freely to any faith as long as they do so voluntarily. It means that Aamir Khan has a right to express his views on the Narmada issue and not be hounded in Gujarat by lumpens encouraged by the tacit approval of the state government. It means Amitabh Bachchan the right to show Narendra Modi his latest film, and agree to be the brand ambassador for Narendra Modi’s Gujarat. It means M. F. Husain has the right to express his creativity in a manner that he chooses without being hounded out of the country into voluntary exile.”

Read the full article: Mail Today

Image: courtesy Prasad Radhakrishnan/ Mail Today

Also read: How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

M.F. HUSAIN: Bolo Bharat mata ki jai, Bolo it’s a work of art

KUMAR KETKAR: Not the land of the cow, the land of holy cows

NARENDRA MODI: A  disgraceful asault on media freedom

Namma Nafisa owes it all to Nanjangud hallu pudi

6 August 2009

love kichdi

We could offer several pretentious reasons why this poster for the upcoming romantic-comedy Love Khichdi appears here out of the blue.

1) Because writer-director Srinivas Bhashyam is namma huduga, a Bangalorean, who has worked with Mani Ratnam and Kamal Hassan, and has written a piece or three for churumuri.

2) Because, with seven ravishing heroines in his second Hindi film, paapa, namma huduga must have had to work so hard, that he needs all the moral support he can get ahead of the movie’s release.

3) Because T.B. Srinivas, as the world knew him before he became Srinivas Bhashyam, has written the story and screenplay with namma huduga Manu Joseph, the former Outlook magazine journalist.

But the real reason we are using this poster here is because it gives us a pretext to talk of the lady on the left of the frame, kneeling on the ground, in the black suit.

In Love Khichdi, she answers to the name of Nafisa Khan.

In life khichdi, she answers to the name of Kalpana Pandit.

Kalpana Pandit is daughter of Dr B.V. Rajagopal, the Mysore cardiologist who belongs to the B.V. Pandit family of Nanjangud hallu pudi fame. Her uncle B.V. Sreekantan is “a distinguished high energy astrophysicist.

Kalpana, who studied at Marimallappa’s School and College, and did her medicine at the Mysore Medical College (MMC) is a doctor, too, as is her brother Sandeep Raj Pandit and sister Lakshmi Pandit.

But Kalpana’s career is eerily, freakily different from the average doctor’s.

# The ravishing beauty from 1st main road, Yadavagiri, won the “Miss USA” contest among NRIs.

# She took a break as an emergency medicine physician in Arizona to star in M.F. Husain‘s Gajagamini.

# She did a bikini item song in Padmashree Laloo Yadav.

# She rubs shoulders with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Lopez.

# She wows the paparazzi at the premiere of Quantum of Solace with assets disproportionate to her known sources of income.

# And, on her website, she shames classmates by posing next to Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine and Danny de Vito.

Our unimpeachable Bollywood correspondent writes:

“With her large frame and fair complexion, and the Pandit surname, she is predictably mistaken for a North Indian everywhere. But she’s a proud Kannadiga and we used to banter in Kannada during the shoot much to the puzzlement of all around here.”

And she puts up pictures like these on her website for the salivating masses. There’s a hint of desperation, of course, but kee farak painda when there’s an MD after your name?



Love Khichdi Poster: courtesy Srinivas Bhashyam (clockwise from bottom left, Kalpana Pandit, Divya Datta, Rituparna Sengupta, Jessy Randhawa, Sada, Riya Sen, and Sonali Kulkarni, with Randeep Hooda)

Photo mosaic: courtesy Ashish Bagchi


Also read: Once upon a time, eating Nanjangud hallu pudi

21st century spectacle at 17th century structure

Who killed our divine Nanjangud rasa baale

A fitness regime for the moral police by remote

30 July 2009

The licence-quota-permit raj may have been consigned to the dustbin (at least in theory), but Victorian regulation runs deep in the Indian psyche, especially when it comes to the media: films, television, newspapers, books, art.

Don’t like M.F. Husain‘s painting? Just hound him out.

Don’t like a newspaper report? Smash the skulls out.

Don’t like a scholar’s biography? Burn down the library.

Don’t like a journalist’s views? Ransack his house.

Don’t like a scholar’s opinion? File a criminal case.

Don’t like Savita Bhabhi‘s advances? Just get it banned.

Don’t like Balika Vadhu. Sharad Yadav will take up your cause.

And so on and on.

All last week, the honourable members of the Parliament of India, having solved all the problems facing this large and great country—hunger, poverty, malnutrition, disease, deprivation, illiteracy, violence, corruption—were frothing at the mouth about Sach ka samna, an execrable television show out of the Rupert Murdoch stable.

Yesterday, a division bench of the Delhi High Court comprising chief justice A.P. Shah and Justice Manmohan delivered the moral police—the only police force which has no trouble finding new recruits—a stinging lesson in life and liberty.


“In this land of Gandhi, it appears that nobody follows Gandhi… Follow the Gandhian principle of ‘see no evil’. Why do you not simply switch off the TV?

“We have very good advice for you. You have got two judges sitting here who do not watch TV at all. It will certainly help. Individual ideas of morality are not the business of the court. We are not sitting here for moral policing… You approach the Parliament and get the remedy.

“The courts cannot be expected to deal with issues that involve different individual perceptions.”

“Our culture is no so fragile that it will be affected by one TV show. Moreover, nobody in his individual capacity can be allowed to take upon the social order and ask for directions.

“You are asking us to entertain an area which deals with perceptions and opinions. Further, morality yardsticks are to be decided by the government. We cannot decide the issue. We are not sure whether the show has brought out the truth of many people but it is certain that it has brought out the hypocrisy of various ministers and parliamentarians.”

Image: courtesy Savita Bhabhi

Also read: In the name of Bhagwan, All, Christ…

Look, who’s blasting the disgrace in Mangalore

19 February 2009


Not every member/ supporter of the saffron brotherhood, it seems, wants to turn the Mangalore pub disgrace into a predictable, boilerplate, caveman discussion on the threat to Indian/ Hindu values.

At least, not yet.

Former external affairs Jaswant Singh, currently the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, makes the following points in an interview with Mail Today:

“It [the assault on women in the pub by goons of the Sri Rama Sena] is an obscenity. Who gives them the moral right to police our society? It can only be possible in the absence of any understanding about our culture, ethos and liberal values.

“I cannot countenance efforts to Talibanise the Hindu society.

“If the minister [Renuka Choudhury] has objected to it, good for her. I am opposed to the government entering people’s bedrooms. And if women want to relax and have a drink, whose business and right is it to object.”

Pointing at beautiful paintings depicting female dancers in a spiritual trance and another of Menaka and Vishwamitra hung in his office walls inside Parliament House, Singh said the moral police are a “ killjoy”.

Extending his support to M.F. Husain, he said:

“ What do they have against beauty and art? Hinduism is not even a religion. It is a way of life that celebrates diversity, different views and ideas. Look at our ancient temples, our cave paintings and the wonderful depiction of different aspect of human existence. I cannot understand why Husain is being hounded. Have these so- called moral police seen the paintings and murals in our temples?

“Indian society is now being subjected to a Victorian, puritanical onslaught which was never its natural essence. We celebrated love and music. We did not frown upon alternative ideas of human existence. I don’t know where these moral guardians have sprung up from.”

Cartoon: courtesy Keshav/ The Hindu (digitally altered)

Also read: How girls pissing in their pants protect Hinduism

CHURUMURI POLL: Girls drinking beer not Hindu?

‘Let the moral police stop going to bars first’

Giving Lord Rama a good name 24 x 7 x 365

Bolo ‘Bharat Mata ki jai’. Bolo ‘It’s a work of art’

9 September 2008

Not that they are sensitive to these things, but the highest court in the land—the Supreme Court of India—has delivered a stinging slap on the menacing faces of India’s moral police and thought thugs; the connoisseurs who know exactly what we should see, hear, wear, watch, read, write, paint, feel and think. Or else.

Maqbool Fida Husain‘s Bharat Mata has been decreed “a work of art“.

Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, K.G. Balakrishnan, while refusing to initiate criminal proceedings against Husain for allegedly “hurting public sentiments” and the “national pride of Indians”, said:

“There are so many such subjects, photographs and publications. Does the sentiment of the petitioner get scandalized by the large number of photographs of erotic sculptures which are in circulation? Will you file cases against all of them?

“What about temple structures?

“It (Husain’s work) is art. If you don’t want to see it, don’t see it. There are so many such art forms in temple structures.”

Also read: M.F. HUSAIN: Do you throw out a naughty child?

RITU MENON: In the name of Bhagwan, Allah, God…

Desh ke police kaise ho? Moral police jaise ho!

Just how is this dress an affront to Hindu culture?

Why Manjamma won’t go back to Bombay again

22 February 2008

She is 82. She is Manjamma. She is from Karnataka, the cradle of coffee in the country. Her ambition, according to The Telegraph, Calcutta, was to sip a cup of coffee at the Taj Mahal hotel overlooking the Arabian Sea in Bombay.

Her mother had done so 60 years earlier, and since then the dream had been firmly implanted in ajji‘s mind.

On Monday, during a visit to the Gateway of India in the company of her daughter, Sapna, a gynaecologist, and son-in-law Laxman Dandin, Manjamma spotted the five-star hotel and decided to swing in for a cuppa.

Shock: “The hotel wouldn’t let us in because of her sandals,” says Dandin. Manjamma was wearing slippers.

Shocker: “We were treated so shabbily because we are from south India and have dark skin,” says Sapna.

Sure, a sign outside reads, “Rights of Admission Reserved”. But if fair-skinned foreigners wearing slippers and shorts can be saluted by imposing looking durwans; if paan-stained politicians wearing khadi and kolhapuris can be ushered in by managers on all-fours, what’s Taj’s beef with Manjamma?

If M.F. Husain being turned away from Willingdon Club for entering barefoot can be news for our papers and TV stations, will Manjamma’s ignominy be?

A hotel owned by the Tatas shuts its doors on an Indian, and the same Tatas say they will “sue” Orient Express on being turned away from acquiring it because the US luxury hotel chain snubbed it saying, “any association with the predominantly Indian chain would erode the value of its premium brands.”

For the record, the Taj Mahal hotel was set up by Jamsetji Tata in 1903 after he was turned away from the exclusive British owned and frequented Watson hotel.

Ah, Taj. Ah, sweet irony.

Photograph: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta

Read the full article: Slippers spoil coffee dream

Also read: The spirit of Subbanna that Bhattru couldn’t stifle

What Seetamma‘s son could teach our netas