March 5, 2008

The way we watch

I found myself shaking my head at all the Anti Jodha-Akbar hoopla. Now that the bans on it- or some of them anyways have lifted, there is still some animosity palpable in the news reports. Really, who cares about historical facts or reality while watching a Bollywood movie? What about freedom of speech? We watched some pretty actors looking good, and that should be enough for anyone. Right?

And then I paused, and remembered my own trashing of 'The Train" here, and how very offended I was by that movie with its poor portrayal of women and children. Perhaps there are folks out there who regard authentic portrayal of history as important as morality in a movie. And who am I to judge what should be important to people?

But then how important is history to us?
Having a heritage with family from all over the Indian subcontinent, has encouraged me towards Indian history, and therefore I have some modicum of knowledge of it. I strongly believe that only with knowledge of a country's past can the country make true progress. But that doesn't necessarily imply that everyone should have that interest- and that everyone can understand the poetic license that Ashutosh has taken with the movie, and laugh it away. I would think that the new generation, has probably little interest in history, since it solves little "practical" purpose. Despite knowing this fact, I still don't find Ashutosh''s take on history as something that should have been banned, since it wasn't essentially harming anyone (duh?).

On the other hand, we have Bollywood disasters glorifying abuse of women, older people and children; we have prime examples of poorly sketched "foreign" characters, slandering other nations- but that doesn't seem to cause tumult. The fact that glorifying such abuse may help propagate it doesn't seem to strike many people's fancy either.

I shake my head again, and conclude I simply lack a good understanding of people's priorities.


veracious said...

Good question, Shweta. I would personally be annoyed to see my own country and people's history distorted enormously in a movie but depends on what movie, based on what evidence and so forth. For example, Russian accounts of Finland's wars with them differ from Finland's point of view.. To see a Russian movie show their side, even if it's historically incorrect, I might just shrug and never mind it.

The thing that strikes me about JA debates is that a lot of these protests in India are politically charged, often radical Hindus or radical Muslims raving against the other radical party. It's very sad that these things are happening, and part of why I think Gowariker portrayed Akbar as he did; a tolerant ruler who was very favorable to Hinduism even if he was Muslim himself.

So yeah, I don't know. If somebody states their case against JA and they don't sound like a religious extremist, I will understand. However, I have no sympathy for religious radicalness of any kind. :/

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I do agree with you.
And I did some reasearch, and found the most laughable and annoying reasoning behind the protests. Looks like some Rajput groups are claiming that no such person as Jodha even existed, so Akbar couldnt have married her. Appears that they are embarassed that a Hindu king would have given his daughter to a Muslim simply to save his kingdom :S
Anyways- from what I know, the supreme court ruled against them :)

Interstingly, I was travelling in Jaipur this past December, and the locals definitely acknowledge Jodha. In fact, amer (her dad's kingdom) and Jaipur (her bro Mansingh's) are looked down upon by the rest of Rajasthan even today because they married Jodha to Akbar rather than fight with the rest of the kings.

It is SO cliched, but fact seems way stranger than fiction :)