A Meeting of Fearful Minds

Madhavankutty Pillai has no specialisations whatsoever. He is among the last of the generalists. And also Open chief of bureau, Mumbai  
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The tactical assault on movies in the war with Pakistan

THE MIND OF Prithvi Maske, who heads the NGO that filed a police case against the film festival MAMI (Mumbai Academy of Moving Image) which was to screen a 1959 Pakistani movie, believes that India is at war with Pakistan. He is wrong. War is what is happening in Mosul, as tanks roll down to ensiege a city bombarded a thousand times from air and a million civilians are held as human shields by fundamentalists who will blow everyone to bits, including themselves. That is war. In Maske’s war, the greatest act of valour is to ambush a police station with a petition followed by a press release and then bask in the glory of victory on unexpectedly finding that MAMI has pulled that movie out. He now waits for a Param Vir Chakra and it would be wise to give him one or he might destroy Pakistan altogether with FIRs at Amboli police station.

The mind of MAMI believed itself to be a cultivated one, devoted to art and aspiring for the highest reaches of human evolution, because which other species can create abstract plots and images and still give meaning to them? Yet, at the first sign of protest against a Pakistani movie in its line-up, the mind which knows that India is not at war with that country decides that the pursuit of truth is ridden with needless headaches and it folds quietly with gracious cowardice and drops the movie. It perhaps has a point. A film festival shouldn’t be the testing ground for the ability of the state to hold off violent mobs, especially given the record of the state. Should the stones come sailing through the wind, who will stop it? Filmmakers are not trained for street battles.

The mind of filmmaker Karan Johar at the moment is not as concerned with art as commerce. Or perhaps that has always been the case, given his movies. In the present instance, he did wait patiently hoping for time to cure all ills, but with the release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil approaching, he capitulated with an apology and promise never to cast Pakistani artistes again if only given some leeway this time. It is wasted hope. Because the appeal he makes is to rational minds and that has been in short supply over the last few weeks.

The mind of Raj Thackeray, who is the cause of Johar’s distress with his threat of blocking the movie’s screenings, is the bravest and most patriotic of them all. He is a bearer of a proud tradition in which war is waged fearlessly from the party office with a handful of foot soldiers whose vast combat experience is in beating up Bihari taxi drivers when photographers are nearby. They are all at war with Pakistan from the line of control in Dadar, Mumbai, where this army camps its headquarters, unleashing missiles on movie posters. But that is enough.