I don’t care to know whether saying ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ is my duty or not but it is my right
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Same day Waris Pathan, MLA, was suspended from the Maharashtra Assembly for refusing to chant ‘Bharat mata ki jai’. He apparently did not have the right to not chant it.
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For those who remember the period when the Salim-Javed team ruled the roost in Bombay, Javed Akhtar’s latest rhetorical flourish in the Parliament comes as no surprise. One can only quote ill-fated Mughal ruler Jahandar Shah’s immortal line:
pahunchī vahīn pe khāk jahān kā khamīr thā
Dust rose, flew to other places, to finally settle back at the place of its origin
The loutish duo of Salim-Javed was primarily responsible for constructing the undemocratic ‘angry young man’ avenger figure and the subsequent rise of proto-Fascist cinema in India in the 1970s and the 80s. For the twosome, who still remain unrepentant, there could be no forgiveness. This screenplay and dialogue writing team cynically exploited the political disillusionment and mass social discontent to create a popular demand for authoritarian and extra-constitutional solutions for the problems of the day. Taking the law into one’s own hands and wreaking vengeance were the main characteristics of their hero figures. Theirs was a cinema tailored to fit the needs of Sanjay Gandhi’s brand of politics. It took more than one and a half decade for their stranglehold over the Hindi film to loosen. In the meantime the team broke up. Javed, clearly cleverer of the two, carried on along the same line for some time, looking for an opportunity for a make-over.
The made-up secular icon, litfest fixture, re-formed messenger of peace and amity, and an all-purpose son of India we know today as Javed Akhtar belongs to this late period.
But another transformation may soon be coming. As Allama Iqbal said:
Sitāron se āge jahān aur bhī hain abhī ishq ke imtihān aur bhī hain
Other worlds exist beyond the stars—
More tests of love are still to come.
Asad Zaidi is a Hindi poet. He runs Three Essays Collective, an independent publishing house.