Since Modi government came to power and started suppressing voices, emboldening fringe elements involved in killing innocent people in the name of religion, the main opposition party, standing at its weakest ever, has projected itself as the torchbearer of freedom of expression. Congress claims to be everything BJP is not, it’s a general belief among current generation that they are secular, liberal and balanced in their political ideology. But are they really?
It’s noticeable that in his first trip abroad after taking over the reins of AICC, Rahul Gandhi addressed a convention of NRIs in Bahrain, saying, “Today the only thing India talks about is what you are allowed to eat, who is allowed to protest, and what we can say or rather what we cannot say. Activists and journalists are threatened; they are shot dead for expressing their views.”
Now shift your focus to the recent controversy around the Netflix show ‘Sacred Games’ that was released in nearly 200 countries and earned rave reviews. Directed by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane, two filmmakers who represent the changing face of mainstream Hindi cinema, the series soon landed into controversy. Several complaints are being filed, alleging some of its content are inappropriate and derogatory in nature and harm the reputation of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. So a great hue and cry has been raised by Dynasty devotees and sycophants, the Grand Old Party of India is full of. Also a plea by a Congress leader has been filed in the Delhi High Court seeking removal of some “offensive scenes” from the show based on a book written by celebrated Indian author Vikram Chandra of same title.
Congress even defended the move saying there is nothing wrong in a party functionary filing a police complaint against the show’s producer.
So what is the thing that has offended Congress and their planet-sized ego. All Politicians have inflated egos, Congressmen are no exception. The show has scenes where the former prime minister is referred to as “fattu” in one of the scenes. While the word “fattu” was initially subtitled as “pussy”, it has since been changed to “wimp”. It has also been alleged that the show is “misrepresenting facts during Rajiv Gandhi’s regime”.
With episodes such as the 1975 Emergency, imposed by Indira Gandhi, and the government’s forced sterilisation plan to the Bofors scandal and Rajiv Gandhi’s gaffe in the 1985 Shah Bano case, when he was accused of choosing politics over women’s rights, neatly stitched in the narrative, the script has been unsparing in its scorn. In one scene Siddiqui’s character says, “Shah Bano ko alag jalaya, desh ko alag. She took her husband to court and won. But the prime minister told her to shut up and overturned the court’s judgement.”
It’s a bitter truth that Rajiv Gandhi the amateur politician, played a dangerous game that later resulted into Babri Mosque demolition. And about Bofors, everyone having even little knowledge of Indian politics, knows Rajiv was, if not directly, indirectly involved in the scam.
Rajiv Gandhi came to power gaining sympathy votes after his mother Indira Gandhi was assassinated. He was a novice and soon his historic blunders and inefficiency in administration made him unpopular. During those times several jokes were made on him. There was a catchy line from a song by a village poet: ‘Italy ke damad, tere bas ka Hindustan nahin’. (Italy’s son-in-law, how will you ever understand India/handle her). Also a very popular joke that taunted Rajiv by saying that Jawaharlal Nehru was sending his grandson a warning from the heaven that he would face defeat in the coming elections. It was in Bhojpuri, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in the Northern-Eastern part of India and the Terai region of Nepal. It went like this: ‘Swarg se nana ki aayi pukaar, ab ke naati tu jaibe haar’.
Are they not funny? Imagine those jokes start playing again, will the Congress, go after every person laughing over them.
It was Rajiv again whose goverment banned Salman Rushdie’s book ‘The Satanic Verses’ and it was much before the Iranian fatwa. I don’t know how much Congress cares about the freedom of expression, it seems, they do care, only when it suits them. Congress just like other political parties, does things as per their own convenience, based on the gains and losses in the elections.
Hypersensitivity vis-a-vis creative cinema from the political class needs to die down. No one here is celebrating abusive language against a former PM, Kashyap is known for over and sometimes unnecessary use of cuss words in his cinema, but that’s his artistic freedom. Artistic or creative freedom is an integral part of freedom of speech and expression. It is a trivial issue, that needs to be ignored. It will cause more harm to Congress than good. By giving it too much attention the party is actually helping the show makers and Netflix. ‘Sacred Games’ is already generating enough curiosity through its content. This hard-boiled fiction, a gangster saga, is energetic and entertaining, and the controversy has given it much more publicity, enough to generate curiosity among masses who either did not hear about it so far or did not plan to watch it. Now the entire nation is talking about ‘Sacred Games’, those who believe in Congress and their political ideology, are actually shocked with the way the party is dealing with the issue. The series has exposed the hypocrisy of Congress, it’s apparent, they do not practice what they preach. ‘Sacred Games’ has actually started a new game, where Congress sucks and Team Kashyap is rocking.