Monday, June 05, 2006

Apologise Aamir, or else...

(June 2006. Originally written for a periodical, this piece is yet to be published)

Nov 2005. Lowell, Massachusetts. Yet another screening of my film Final Solution on a university campus in USA. Minutes before I am to introduce my film, a portly, middle-aged, bespectacled man starts distributing a pamphlet. It calls my film "propaganda", accuses me of "defaming Gujarat", claims that I am a terrorist, caught casing tall buildings in New York 6 months earlier. Never mind that the New York Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of New York and NYPD on my behalf, for racist harassment. "We-are-keeping-an-eye-on
-enemies-of-Hindutva-within-and-outside-Bharat", tells me this corporate executive from Boston, while distributing his pamphlet to my audience. "Everywhere you go, we keep a record", he says. I tell him an easier way of tracking me - just check my website - www.rakeshfilm.com for screening venues and dates.

Outside the venue, a group of desis gathers even as the film starts. They are here to oppose the screening of my film at their university, without having seen it. I invite them, but most aren't interested. They await the Q & A session, where they plan to 'ambush' me. The 'ambush' is straight out of the Hindutva websites, an 8 point questionnaire for "enemies of Hindutva"; by now, I am a veteran of such ambushes. I know between 10 and 50 people will plant themselves in different parts of the audience, raise their hands as soon as the lights come on to prevent anyone else from asking questions. "How dare you call the Gujarat violence 'genocidal', thunders one. Far away from him, in another corner of the auditorium, another gets up to tell me - "The mobs did not kill anyone. All people died in police firing. And the toll is not over 2000. It is just about 100". "Why don't you make a film for Kashmiri Pandits", asks another, his friend wonders whether my heart bleeds only for Muslims. In the next few minutes, the focus is on films I never made - why not one on Jihadi terrorism? Hindu girls kidnapped by Muslims? Fundamentalist mullahs and their fatwas? Bombay bomb blasts and Lashkar or Hizbul or Al Qaeda?

"What about the burnt train", thunders a Gujarati NRI, "what happened was a reaction to Godhra". I pose a counter question - " Do you think post-911, every New Yorker should have gone out to on the streets to rape any Muslim woman, murder Muslim babies and kill old and young men? That New Yorkers should have burnt all Muslim cafes and shops, set fire to Muslim homes and that the NYPD should've helped them do it? That mobs led by local politicians should have ruled the streets of New York in the same way they did in Gujarat?" Like a proud American citizen, he recoils and says no.

I wonder why they try to defend such barbarism for India. Long distance nationalism? A mistaken notion of what India is and what it needs? Or an implied assumption that NY is 'civilised' while India is 'backward' and hence rape, murder and mayhem are acceptable consequences?" It is a question I have posed to many 'hostile' members of my audiences - usually they have no answers. Politics of hate and intolerance doesn't rely on reason; all it demands is faith. Just log on to hinduunity.org! Or browse any 'enemies of hindutva' blog or list!

It is not unusual for any of us raising uncomfortable questions to deal with attempts to intimidate. The hatemails. The late night phone calls. Promises to rearrange your limbs. Or anatomical conversations about your wife, sister or mother. Or, as Harsh Mander tells me about attending friends' parties in Delhi, disapproving shakes of the head, groups that dissolve suddenly as you walk to join them, with someone making just the right dismissive remark: "we-are-ashamed-of-you" or "as-a-hindu-how-can-you-criticise-Hindutva" ! As soon as Mallika Sarabhai speaks for peace in Gujarat, she transforms into a "human trafficker", with her passport impounded. Teesta Setalvad's landmark legal intervention in the Gujarat carnage cases is not because of her belief in justice and secularism, but because "she is married to a Muslim". R B Sreekumar is "an indiscreet madman" for confirming that the bureaucracy and the police machinery actively assisted its saffronazi masters during the 2002 genocide. Former BJP minister Haren Pandya is shot dead under "mysterious circumstances" some months after he speaks to the Citizens' Tribunal, even though their report does not name him. Lawyers battling the hindutva brigade in Gujarat courts speak nonchalantly of phonetaps and IB sleuths, almost as if it were an occupational hazard in Gujarat. A well-meaning IPS officer tells me to "be careful while travelling in Gujarat, especially after dark"!

Elsewhere too, interesting times await me. The Censor Board refuses to see Final Solution, instead sends me legal notices about customs and forex violations, when I carry a DVD to screen at a film festival abroad. Hindu Jagran Manch-affiliated members of CBFC threaten the theatre owner in Bangalore where my film is to be screened as the opening film for the Films for Freedom festival. Censor chief Anupam Kher calls up the Bangalore police commissioner, urging him to take action against the organisers, the film-maker and others including Anand Patwardhan. A day later, they ban my film formally. Next year, ministry officials prevent my film from competing for the National Film Awards; as per their rules, my film wasn't made during the year it won a dozen awards and had hundreds of screenings. First they delay my censor certificate, later they cite the same certificate to prove that the film was made the year after. Ministers from the 'secular' UPA government watch helplessly.

Welcome, Aamir Khan, to the world away from the arc lights. Are you surprised at the hysteria cutting across party lines? To see Congress and BJP youth burn your posters in tandem? Or Vaghela and VK Malhotra speaking the same language? Why don't you simply apologise - actors are supposed to be bimbos - just say sorry and all will be forgiven. Learn the virtues of silence. Take a lead from your own fraternity. Did Hema Malini oppose gangrapes in Gujarat? Or did Raveena Tandon speak of wombs slit open by swords during her campaign speeches? Did Vinod Khanna request Mr Modi to not recreate the horrors of the Partition violence that his own constituency, Gurdaspur suffered in 1947? Or did Shatrughan Sinha request his party's cadre to at least spare Bihari Muslims? Even Navjot Sidhu's verbosity was transformed into deafening silence - what's wrong with you, Mr. Khan? Why not be a Madhur Bhandarkar and make promotional films for the BJP? Or take some mediocre poetry into a recording studio so you can beam next to a Prime Minister or a President on Page 3? Don't you read the rightwing journal Panchjanya - don't you realise you have the wrong surname, that you must be even more careful than the regular Hindu Hero the RSS would rather have us watch?

Aamir, dance as much as you want. Sing whenever you like. But stick to the script. No spontaneous dialogues. Never express an opinion. Beat up as many baddies you want on screen. But, in real life, learn to touch their feet and seek their blessings. You might get one of the Padma awards, perhaps even a Rajya Sabha seat. Find a patron fast or learn to shut up. Even the Big B and Anil Ambani need an Amar Singh. Both the Congress and the BJP feel that you are just an actor. Both wonder - "why is Aamir talking politics"? If the ruling party and the opposition are united on an issue, can they be wrong? Talking about politics is the exclusive domain of the Raja Bhaiyyas and Sadhu Yadavs. How dare you first have an opinion and then have the audacity to express it?

Why can't you simply let the people of the Narmada valley drown? They are mere tribals and villagers - marginal people. Peripheral to our lives. The kind of farmers who commit suicides in high numbers and spoil our cocktail dinners. The kind who support naxalites. The type who demand reservations in jobs that rightly belong to the elite. The uncouth majority who can't distinguish a chardonnay from a chappal. The non-consumers, without disposable incomes. Many of them are mere freeloaders, demanding all kinds of rights when they do not even buy a bike or a computer to contibute to the glowing health of "our" economy. But for you, we would have happily underplayed them in our newspapers and TV news bulletins, like we ignored Medha Patkar and NBA activists for the first 8 days of their starvation but carried images of Modi's designer hunger strike in its first 8 minutes! Why did you have to play the spoilsport and draw attention to the issue? Why are you speaking of the Supreme Court, justice and equity? Grow up, Aamir, don't you know we are not a welfare state anymore?

Speak, but only to Stardust and Filmfare. Or at glittering awards nights. We need Mallika Sherawats and Rakhi Sawants, not some actor with a conscience. And should you persist, be ready to bear the consequences. Today, it is just a boycott in Gujarat. Tomorrow India. Then, the diaspora. Not to forget the income tax tribunals, FEMA and FERA directorates, privilege committees and censor boards. And by the way, endorse as much cola as you want, after all it has got pesticides supported by a swadeshi subsidy!

32 Comments:

Anonymous Raghuram Kanadam said...

WOW! That leaves a deep impact. Is there anything at all, Mr. Sharma that we could do to prevent such barbarism to pass of in India, our motherland?

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indian Muslims are waiting for an opportunity to prove their loyalty and patriotism to their nation.My suggestion is,Indian Muslims should be fully trusted and empowered to fight and eliminate terrorism from India.In fact, a seperate security task force like "All India Muslim Sena" should be deployed by the government throghout India.I strongly believe that only Muslims can control the Muslim terrorists.They can also proudly say that they are protecting their Hindu brothers and sisters and this will build a strong bond between Hindus and Muslims.This is a great opportunity to integrate Muslims in to the mainstream like sikhs.

We have never given them an opportunity to prove their loyalty and emerge as national heroes.Appointing a Muslim president and offering "Chadar" at Ajmeer dargah makes them feel inferior because this amounts to Muslim appeasement and they are forced to compromise and remain thankful for nothing.They would like to compete and win on merits.Bollywood is a great example which shows that the best alone can survive.There is no room for reservation,appeasement and any kind of bias.

India is a great nation and it should set an example to show the entire world.This will bring peace and happiness to the entire Asia.Is it possible?.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Stalingam said...

Red Greetings

I was there for the screening of Final Solution in Bangalore.
I remember all the drama that happened

So are you doing any
new documentaries ?

If you need subjects then may I suggest you do a documentary on India's Janjaweed - The Salwa Judum
you can read more about it on my blog
http://naxalrevolution.blogspot.com/

Regards

Stalingam

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Shibu George said...

Mr.Sharma, it is really an eye-opener for a guy like me whose knowledge in history is meagre. Please keep on working on sensitive issues like communalism.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous hari ballsack said...

Indians, I've found, are typically gay.

4:49 AM  
Anonymous demondoll2001 said...

Hi Rakesh Sharma,

How are you? You said that you were going to do a screening in DC this fall. Can you give me a date for that? I'd really like to come!

Take care,
Sarika the Demondoll

9:01 AM  
Blogger Raghu Karnad said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo....it's a pleasure to come across a blog like this.
Just saw 'Final Solutions' in London. I think this is a blog I'll be visiting regularly. Hope you are able to have screenings for the small and big communities within the Hindu diaspora, from where much of the funding for the RSS, BJP etc comes.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Harsha Kanadam said...

Sarcasm oozes out of every single word in this posting!!! But it is this sarcasm that throws light on the sorry state of affairs in our nation filled with sycophants, posers, impostors and illiterates governing it. I applaud Mr.Sharma's efforts in trying to portray the situation while maintaining complete honesty. But what is the solution to such issues, if there is one?

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Shruthi Namboodiri said...

Hi Rakesh, I have seen your 'final solutions'. liked the treatment of it a lot. Final Solutions left me with a sob stuck in my throat.

Cheers!!
shruthisreedharan@yahoo.com

9:24 PM  
Blogger Aditya Swarup said...

Hello,

would love to see more writing on such issues.
http://thesocialblog.blogspot.com

1:35 AM  
Blogger refuter said...

Man, I hope your lawsuit pans out. I can no longer tolerate my own fear of using a camera to snap a touristy photo in a vicinity of a bridge or a tunnel. I always feel that someone may think that I am some sort of a terrorist scouting out a place.

Dmitriy
http://www.refuter.com

8:37 AM  
Blogger Prasoon said...

Why have you stopped writing..]

I myself have seen the Final Solution and let me tell people - it was nothing but FACTS which people dont dare to accept.

What wrong did Aamir do - he just took a side - only that the infamous Gujarat and its ministry manages to create a carnage out of every humanitarian effort.

9:25 PM  
Blogger Mages said...

I totally agree sir. You hit the nail on its head

10:51 AM  
Blogger kaachua said...

MR. Sharma , someone has inflitrated your site when you try to follow the screenings link, it takes you to an obscure Bible promotion page.

11:31 PM  
Blogger shrikant shelat said...

A brilliant counter attack. Dear Mr. Sharma, please come out to talk to the junta in the Gujarat State. Your films would do magic and end the Modi regime. I am not sure but a person like you, with such expecience,writes in newspapers or there is a media black out ??

11:22 PM  
Blogger Bud said...

The link for your SCREENING SCHEDULE is missing an "S" and therefore goes to the wrong site.

Vote RON PAUL 2008, and bring AMERICA it's Freedom and Liberty!

www ronpaul2008 com

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course Aamir is a brilliant actor, but when Indians are asked who their favourite actor is, the reason they subconsciously answer "Aamir Khan" has a lot to do with the man's actions off-screen. Aamir has shown he has the b--ls to stick his neck out for issues he believes in. Aamir is an Indian HERO, in the true sense of the word.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

keep makin anti hindu films mutherfucker u mutherfucker dont have guts to make films on kashmiri pandit, against jihadist, against congress party who killed 3000 sikhs , abt the bhagalpur riots, abt the bombay riots under congress , against the hatres that they teach in madrase .
u mutherfucker thinks u will get some awards for bashing hindus shame on u mutherfucker shame on u.for bringing biased and one sided flims .

3:29 AM  
Blogger the other romila said...

Dear Mr. Rakesh Sharma,
as a film student and now a media person, I and my friends have always looked up to your films.
we were there in madras for your screening at the beach in 2005.
Now, my friends have a youth organisation called Pudiyador - which works with slum children and they provide academic and other support to them.
we were wondering if we could screen your films to them as we feel very strongly about spreading communal harmony. We could help the children see the film with someone to guide them through the viewing as they understand some english and mostly tamil.
Will you be able to lend us a copy of your films - Khedu Mora Re and Chet'ta Rejo and also Final Solution.....or please let us know how we can procure them.
warm regards and looking forward to hearing from you and watching your latest films.
If you are coming sometime to madras, please do let us know.
romila sudhakar.

12:14 PM  
Blogger sambit said...

Though i respect you for your write up and the knowledge you have for the facts you have put up.. I disagree with the core theme of your blog....asking Aamir to shut up..

Isnt this a democratic country...He just voiced his opinion....and he is well entitled to it..Even if Gujurat bans his movies..his movies still are superhits...like RDB , TZP , Fanaa etc..so nothing is effected...Even Supreme Court ruled its Unfair to be harsh on him....

I am supporting Him and every celebrity who is standing up for good and speaking up. This nation needs more people like him.

Sambit

8:50 PM  
Anonymous Omid said...

Dear Rakesh Sharma,
Just now I saw your documentary and I wasn't bored a minute. As a Turk who acknowledges the Armenian genocide I recognize many of your problems in my own life as well. Your documentary is a milestone in having laymen understand the violence. It is the Indian equivalent of what "good Germans" have done to expose Nazi crimes. Therefore the work you do is absolutely indispensible and necessary to be broadcast to a wide audience. Keep up the good work!

6:39 PM  
Blogger Ambica said...

I was able to view your film "Final solution" recently and that's how i googled and found your blog. Sir, I felt the need to somehow let you know that the movie was the most honest portrayal about the state- sponsored communal violence. I have not come across such truthful statements in a long time. I really appreciate you for venturing and making this movie!!!!!

5:18 PM  
Blogger Rinku said...

Dear Mr Rakesh Sharma
Thank you very much for your film. I managed to see it - it has moved me incredibly.
I thank you for your courage to make this important film.
God bless you

4:43 PM  
Blogger indscribe said...

Hats off to you for the movie. We all need to save the Idea that is India.

3:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rakesh, my brother, you spoke with strength against attrocities. Glory to people like you. Hate all violences, hate all right wings (Islamic, Hinduist, whatever) be it in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rakesh, my brother, you spoke with strength against attrocities. Glory to people like you. Hate all violences, hate all right wings (Islamic, Hinduist, whatever) be it in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Ebrahim Kabir said...

Second to what is written here. And Final Solution was remarkable and we all in our small ways talk about such issues, and films to create some sort of forum.

4:04 AM  
Anonymous Varun Shekhar said...

One fallacy in Sharma's article is the reference to the response to the World Trade Centre attack by Americans. Americans know in their heart-of-hearts that their government will do something about a terrorist attack like that; Indians either feel that their government will do nothing or will respond highly inadequately. Which is not to justify the post-Godhra violence, but to give the context. New York is not a good comparison with Gujarat, and the US not with India. Any 2 of those terrorist strikes in India, and possibly any one( Delhi, Mumbai, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Jaipur) would have caused the US to go to war. Americans know this.

7:29 PM  
Blogger MikeSchumacher said...

It would be interesting to see the reaction from Muslims when you call Mohammad a mythical Muslim god, the way you called Ram a mythical Hindu God in your documentary. The fact that you can speak against the majority section of the society proves that India (Hindustan as I prefer it) is a much better place than a lot of other places. Hindus have been complacent for too long and we need to assert ourselves. Agreed that killing innocents, irrespective of their race, religion, color is a dastardly act, which should attract capital punishment. Then again I ask myself, how do we tolerate the separatists in Kashmir for so long. These people should have been either hanged for secessionist activities or kicked outside of our country. But they enjoy the benefits of our country and still abuse us. Do we have any self respect? In the name of 'secularism', pseudo secularists have ensured that they have a ready vote bank. When a Shastri or Togadia speaks against Muslims, its hate propaganda (rightly so). So how do you spare the Muslim Minister in the UP Government who announces a bounty for the Danish cartoonist? The Supreme Court passes a progressive judgment (Shah Bano case) and all the mullahs are out on the street chanting 'Islam is in danger'. The government of the day overturns a ruling which would at least benefit 50 % of Muslims (the women) and not one secularist has anything to say? Vande Mataram cant be our National Anthem since it hurts the sentiments of the Muslims. They refuse to follow family planning program since its against their religion. They choose madarassas for educating their children, damning them for life and we cant say anything? Fact of the matter is Hindus assimilate into whichever society they migrate to. However Muslims prefer ghettos everywhere they go and stick to their beliefs very rigidly. It is for Indian Muslims to realize that for their own good, they need to change themselves. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Else they would be responsible for the consequences.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi
Rakesh,
Is injustice only in GUJARAT,
Why you focused only Gujarat,
riots happened in all over India,
hatting / killings all over world, human right violation all over world, suicides or farmers take place in Maharashtra, Andhra, can you see that?
Why don't focused GOOD PANCHAYATI RAJ in Gujarat, Development and silent life in Gujarat {Many IPS/IAS officers said about that, they said that our family feel free in Gujarat else that in BIHAR, UP or Delhi.
If one man mistaken, but trying to return after his mistake, Why should we are not giving him chance?, he is trying for lots about development.
Read the history after development of All developed countries & compare with situation in Gujarat.
NOT FOCUS ONLY GUJARAT, compare it with all other. All crows are block no one is white.

12:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why my comments are not published here.
Question?
Are You making documentary, why S6 burnt at Godhara?
Are You making documentary for Anti Sikh mob in Delhi?
Are You making documentary for Work on K.P.S. Gill in Panjab for removal of Khalistanis?
In which action, S6 burning is reacted?
For Two rupees of Tea?

2:28 PM  

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