Hindutva groups attack PK screenings: It's an assault on intelligence, not just on a movie

Sandipan Sharma

Dec 30, 2014 12:18:27 IST

Mullah Nasruddin was searching for a key. Somebody asked where he had lost it. Nasruddin replied, “I lost it in my house but am searching it outside because there is more light here.” Those opposing Rajkumar Hirani’s PK sound more and more like Nasruddin in this parable.

PK is an interesting— or trite if you have seen films on similar theme - take on the misconceptions and myths that are part of our daily life. But opponents of the film want it banned not because it looks at the odd and the hilarious in our lives; they want PK to be pulled out of theatres because the director has ‘targeted only the Hindus’ and couldn’t muster the courage to laugh at other religions.

In fact, rightwing Hindutva groups Bajrang Dal and VHP were so insulted that they went on a rampage in Ahmedabad and Bhopal, smashing theatres that were screening the film.

In Ahmedabad, protests turned violent as over 50 Bajrang Dal activists stormed and vandalised two theaters, Shiv and City Gold Multiplex. Protests by the Bajrang Dal also took place in Bhopal, where activists stopped the screening of the film in some theatres.

 Hindutva groups attack PK screenings: Its an assault on intelligence, not just on a movie

One of the cinemas attacked by Bajrang Dal activists: PTI

Both the Bajrang Dal and VHP have given a 24-hour ultimatum to the film's producers for removing "anti-Hindu" scenes, according to a report in the Times of India.

"It has become a habit with Bollywood to hurt the sentiments of Hindus. They insult our gods and show our spiritual gurus as villains. Why don't they make a film based on Imam Bukhari and his anti-national statements?" VHP-Bajrang Dal spokesman for central India Devendra Rawat, was quoted as saying in the report.

There were also incidents reported in Delhi over the weekend, but cinema owners had said that the situation was under control.

“People think a 100 times while talking against Islam. However, when it comes to Hinduism any one gets up and says anything, this is shameful. There should be a social boycott in society against those who are involved in making such movies,” ranted Baba Ramdev, more or less like Mulla Nasruddin, who would rather look for what is missing not in his home but somewhere outside where it is more convenient.

This is a flawed and self-defeating argument. Mimansa (critical inquiry) and chintan (introspection) are key factors for the growth and survival of any serious thought, especially a religion. For an idea to succeed at a mass level and survive for ages, it has to be thrown open to challenges and critical analysis.

It can’t be kept in a vault, protected from the intellect of those who might to look at it critically. Even in Hinduism, there has always been a healthy culture of shastrath (a sort of ideological cross examination) that allowed its practitioners to question its tenets, beliefs and practices. And those who pointed at our shortcomings, forced us to introspect, have not only been revered but treated as Saints like the incomparable Kabir.

On a less philosophical note, it is hilarious to see swayambhu (self-proclaimed) guardians of Hinduism rush to the rescue of gods. Are they not wise enough to know that a faith that has survived for ages can’t be hurt by a film that lingers in our memory not longer than three hours? Are they naïve to believe that the legend of the triumvirate of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh can be seriously threatened by a funny film?

PK has already earned Rs 200-crore; it may go on to earn a few more. Ideally, cheerleaders of the ‘ban PK’ band should have shut up after realising that millions of people— and most of them, I dare say, Hindus— have watched the film and have found nothing wrong with it. Some of them, I am sure, may have even gone to a temple the very next morning to perform the exact rituals that Hirani proscribes.

But those seeking a ban seem to believe that Indians —of the film-going variety— need somebody to point out what they should watch and what is harmful for them. For these guardians of our faith, we are ignorant people who are likely to lose the sense of right karma and dharma under the influence of cinema. They believe that when we leave for a cinema hall, there is a risk of wandering away to the point of no ghar wapsi.

Perhaps, they believe that they hold the remote control of our lives. Pity PK is looking for it in the wrong place.

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Updated Date: Dec 30, 2014 12:21:25 IST