Fadnavis deserves kudos and army a rethink over taking Rs 5 cr with grace family, wedding pictures, age, height, weight, biography
Thanks to the ugly, opportunistic politics over the suicide of a retired serviceman in Delhi and killing of SIMI terrorists by policemen near Bhopal, the dust kicked over the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil has been brushed out of the news. These days, Bollywood films are churned routinely, get released and forgotten. ADHM would have also been screened and forgotten as another waste of creative efforts. But Raj Thackeray, MNS leader, had different ideas. He threatened to block the film’s release because he could not tolerate seeing a Pakistani actor perform in Indian theatres in the wake of killing of our servicemen by Pak-based terrorists in Uri.
The sensible course for producer Karan Johar should have been to go to the police and seek protection, and if MNS activists ransacked theatres, the state could use the force to clear them out and later prosecute them. But what subsequently happened was bizarre.
Johar, looking scared, went on television professing his undiluted patriotism and declaring that he would never cast Pakistani actors in his films. He should have known that relationship between nations keeps changing and who knows how it will shape in future. It is just that the current time is not opportune due to frequent ceasefire violations and furious attempts by Pak Army to exfiltrate terrorists to India before the winter sets in.
Raj Thackeray with Devendra Fadnavis
Essentially, Johar is a businessman. He is no Bimal Roy or Shyam Benegal. With a Pakistani actor thrown in, likes of him see immense possibility of earning huge money from Indian and Pakistani cine goers. Make no mistake. They are neither driven to promote better relations between Pakistan and India nor have genuine passion for social causes or respect for national sensibility. They make movies that are deliberately loud, abusive, unaesthetic and titillating for commercial gains and not meant to stir people’s conscience about economic disparities and social, religious and political evils. Worse, they do not want to understand that when expression of ideas loses dignity, the state shall intervene.
The reaction to the deal brokered by the Maharashtra Chief Minister, MNS leader and the producer to ensure peaceful release of the film has been pathetic. The deal specified that Johar would not cast Pakistani actors in his movies, pay `5 crore to the Army’s Battle Casualties Welfare Fund and show a slide paying tribute to soldiers before screening the film. In no time, hell was let loose for Devendra Fadnavis. He was accused of succumbing to a bully, paving way for jungle raj in Maharashtra. But the choice for him was either to allow MNS to cause widespread violence or work out a compromise to buy peace. He wisely opted for the latter. Who will tell the hecklers that law and order is a daily challenge and one needs to find a new strategy every day to meet it.
The agitated reaction of some Army officers to the producer’s offer of `5 crore for their Welfare Fund was incomprehensible. They called it extortion money and insisted that its acceptance would insult the sacrifices of soldiers. It is, in fact, public money which the producer committed to shelling out from his anticipated profit. It matters little whether he was donating the sum out of compulsion of circumstances or from a call of his conscience.
How can it hurt the pride of Forces when the objective was to benefit the disabled and children of servicemen who suffer during operations? It was no different from circulars and appeals that governments and institutions routinely issue, asking employees to contribute to various relief funds, amounting virtually to blackmailing them emotionally. No wonder, many employees crib privately while forgoing their savings.
The repeated clarifications given by Fadnavis on this score was unnecessary. He is young and perhaps got unnerved by criticism. For once, MNS did a good deed. Their method of clinching the donation might have their trademark but their initiative certainly deserved some gratitude from the Army.
It is weird that baiters should restraint themselves from criticising the decision to show the slide as a brazen attempt to extort patriotism. Probably, they feared a backlash of anger in view of the current mood of hostility against Pakistan. They might have enjoyed seeing benefits of the beauty products flashing on the screen rather than watching soldiers receiving gratitude of the nation. These may only be their temporary moments of discomfiture. You will soon find them making a spectacle of situations that are divisive and directly affect our security.
The writer is Former special secretary, Research and Analysis Wing
This article was originally published on http://www.newindianexpress.com/magazine/voices/2016/nov/12/fadnavis-deserves-kudos-and-army-a-rethink-over-taking-rs-5-cr-with-grace-1536830.html