Happy New Year!!
Last week I watched the movie PK, and it is brilliant. It makes you laugh in a natural way, and the message it sends out in the end is profound. But as I had expected, it did become a source for protests from far-right Hindu activists, as the movie has more than a few blunt remarks about the age-old religious practices and beliefs of the ancient religion. In my view, the movie Oh My God – which had a similar theme – deserved protests more than PK, as it was far more selective on Hinduism (That’s not to say it said anything wrong).
While I agree that no part of the movie is particularly objectionable to me, I have strong disagreement when a few of my friends say that the protests are a mockery of democracy or freedom of speech. Had the censor board banned the movie or had it taken off a few clips, indeed it would have been a mockery. But not unless. It is everybody’s democratic right to protest against something in a way they don’t harm human lives. I remember when the Da Vinci Code movie was released, the protests were even more substantial all over the world. In our own country, Muslim outfits protested against the movie Vishwaroopam a few months back. So, as long as they don’t break any law of the land, it is in their right to vent their anger and show their displeasure.
Coming to the tolerance part of it, let’s not forget that the censor board allowing this movie to screen itself is a big proof of the Hindu tolerance (given who’s their current boss). Had this movie been made on any other religion or in any other Asian country, we all know what would have been the fate of it. So, it is pointless when we question the Hindu tolerance looking through the lens of protests. So, Raju Hirani and Co were thoughtful to choose the most tolerant religion (first?) to point out the blind-beliefs in it.
The beliefs. While I agree that a large number of temples and priests are turning into business houses and frauds today, it is unfair to generalize it. Just like My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist touches peoples’ feelings, we would soon need I am a Hindu saint and I am not a fraud to reach people’s hearts. Because not everyone can be as objective as you and me to take home what is right. Idol worship and numerous sacrifices offered to Hindu Gods are part of a tradition and culture that has lived thousands of years. If one believes that worshiping a piece of rock helps him live better, how is it any different from someone else who offers prayers to someone invisible several times a day? If believing in something makes me feel good, who are you to tell me that it is wrong? But yes. Offering a liter of milk to a hungry child than a Shiva Lingam makes a difference to the world. But then it’s just a tradition. It is like saying stop all F1 races that waste a hell lot of fuel and offer free rides to children who want to go to school. At the end of the day you do what makes you feel good. Moreover, Almighty God if he exists, doesn’t need us to offer him sacrifices or prayers. As long as we lead honest lives, He will help us even if we are Atheists. We don’t need to be believers to be blessed. God needs nothing from us.
That said, why do we need Raam Temple, as is curiously asked in PK? Well, temples are symbols of Hindu culture, tradition and most importantly of art and architecture. While I’m against the Babri mosque demolition as it was never in our culture that we destroy someone else’s beliefs, I am for the construction of a Raam Temple in Ayodhya, as it is the birthplace of Lord Raam. We can also offer the reconstruction of the mosque with an apology.
So, let’s not make a big deal out of the protests while people are killing each other in the name of religion in some other part of the world. And of course, let’s not demonize Aamir Khan just because he happens to be a Muslim. He has proved a hundred times in the past that he is a proud Indian many of us can look up to.
Have a marvelous year ahead!