Free Press Journal

Why So Serious? 

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With instant rage and hate blinding our real and virtual worlds, ROCHELLE FERNANDEZ surmises that it will be an eye for an eye… as we are clearly not liking the idea of a smile for a smile.

We now live in a country which is so angered at the thought of happiness that all we see around is atrocious people trying their luck at moral policing. Be it political pundits or a strange nobody who would emerge out of nowhere just for five seconds of fame, it’s a free for all.

In times when we consume more instant stuff than 2-minute noodles, we are always in a hurry to express our opinions on everything under the sun. We love instant access to every catastrophe in the world – important and un-important both, so all we do is obsess over creating hype, out of sheer nothingness. We have access to all human knowledge in our pocket which should, in a normal scenario, be a boon, but the monster within has turned it into a bane at the very least. The result of which is dissatisfaction, which we carry in our hearts all day long and are ready to smack it on the face of the first person who rubs us the wrong way.


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Is it fair? The sad truth of it all is what do you do when dissatisfaction becomes anger which is less likely to be useful than injurious? Let’s take the baton holders of moral policing who came forward when AIB’s comedian Tanmay Bhat used an application on his phone so he could swap his face with the legends Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar to have some, in his opinion, fun. Fun also happens to be subjective, is what we need to accept and if my joke is not funny to you, you cannot stand up and issue a fatwa against me. Looking at the state of affairs in a country which is angered by jokes and Snapchat, taking the issue national is something beyond comprehension.

Sit down and analyse why these people are so furious all the time and you probably still won’t have any answers. All you do know is that angry people are poor communicators and the worst listeners of all. They are so self-involved that trying to imagine someone else’s point of view is something incomprehensible. It makes people unhealthy and that’s what we are heading towards. Maybe an eye for an eye… as we are clearly not liking the idea of a smile for a smile.

The growing culture of outrage doesn’t extend free speech; it rather limits it. We are often heard comparing how western films are so evolved and why we worship the likes of Robert Downey Jr, Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando in comparison to our superstars. But when someone tries to push the envelope with a piece of art that needs support, we throw brickbats at it. UDTA PUNJAB, which is a film made on the issue of substance abuse in our country, started out with a ban on its release with various political agendas attached to it because a certain someone at the helm of CBFC did not want to defame Punjab. How ridiculous a thought is that?

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Anurag Kashyap, who has always been very vocal about the pressures of reality in Indian cinema, came out and spoke his heart out about why it pained him to see art suffer like this. “The film is far away from politics but very close to reality. People have just made it political. I have fought many times but nothing that happened with UDTA PUNJAB has ever happened to me. I got calls from various political people and I vehemently told them to stay out of it. We were not allowed to go to the tribunal that is why we went to the court. We wanted the letter so we could go ahead. Various people were coming to me and talking about how I have these many cuts in my film, whereas the paperwork hadn’t reached me. I was a part of WATER and random people protested against it. Strangely that group was formed a night before and all they wanted was to do it in front of the camera. The system needs to change and I am glad that everyone supports the cause. Not just this film, HARAMKHOR and a Gujarati film SALAGATO SAWAAL ANAMAT.”

Karan Johar took to expressing his feelings as a guest editor as he, like many of us, could not handle the hideousness that was imposed on a certain film before its release. He wrote, “So yes, I’m deeply stressed as a filmmaker, and I know I’m not alone. The censorship crisis, the moral policing, the politics of it has most of us on edge. I’m scared to use certain words: like if I use “Bombay”, will there be a problem? (Scratch that: yes, it already happened.) I am not supposed to use the word “beef”, I heard somewhere even Masterchef is swapping beef for, well, beep. And now, Punjab is apparently off limits. And to that I can only say: hahahaha, what on earth is happening?! It’s a place I love and I’m Punjabi and now, should I not be talking about Punjab myself? Are we supposed to say that drugs aren’t being consumed in parts of the country? No, no, everyone’s just high on mithai. Is baby powder what’s being sniffed by available and interested nostrils? Rarely do mainstream stars step out of their comfort zones to do films that reflect reality, now you’re scaring away those that do. And it’s back to the drawing board. Offence is no longer defence – it’s a full-time profession. Everyone is so offended all the time. The new police force that we weren’t told about: the moral police. No qualifications, no training, no understanding of actual morality, but they have a degree in the art of being offended. And mind you, if there’s an MBA, we’re heading fast towards it.”