It didn’t look like an official statement. It seemed as if Karan Johar was coerced into accepting that he is not an anti-national. He had to prove his patriotism through this rather humiliating video.
Karan Johar never looked so compliant as he did in that two-minute video. I felt a little discomfited watching Karan Johar saying those lines in a well-rehearsed manner, a departure from his personality.
What is Karan Johar’s fault?
Johar is a filmmaker. He is into filmmaking business that goes beyond just profit-making. Films make an emotional connect with people. Why target only films? Because films have an ability to influence people (and potential vote bank) in a gigantic way.
There hasn’t been a single statement or a stand from the ruling government regarding revoking visas of Pakistani artistes working in Bollywood. “There is no proposal to revoke the visa granted to Pakistani artistes working in India,” a senior home ministry official said a few days ago. There has also been no official announcement of suspending all cultural ties between India and Pakistan.
So why is a small political party that doesn’t even have a single elected Member of Parliament create such a ruckus? All this brouhaha about banning Ae Dil Hai Mushkil is coming from a party whose candidates forfeited their deposits on 203 out of the 288 seats in Maharashtra in the 2014 Assembly elections.
Even if we assume for a while that the MNS is really concerned, why doesn’t it infuse the same anger and retaliation into other issues? Mumbai turns into an open swimming pool during monsoons. Marathwada faced a severe drought this year. People from Marathwada region migrated to cities like Mumbai and Pune. Why didn’t MNS come out on roads to protest against these sensitive issues which affect people much more than a Fawad Khan film?
By the way, BMC’s elections are scheduled for February 2017.
Let’s leave aside the fact that Karan Johar is a creative person. Karan Johar is like any other entrepreneur who just happened to use a product from Pakistan when circumstances were normal. Just like retailers and wholesalers who are using made-in-China products. By the same logic, MNS should also vandalise shops of these retailers when there is a call for boycotting China products.
But films are an easy target. Aren’t they?
It is neither the first nor last time that our political leaders have succeeded in deviating our attention from ‘real’ issues and questions. That is not the point, though. The point is how easily they can do it to us every single time by targeting ‘art’. And how generously we allow them to do this to us.
We have made the likes of Karan Johar and Fawad Khan scapegoats for giving a very shallow, general solution to a complex problem. And that solution is boycott Pakistani actors and films, ban Indian films featuring Pakistani actors.
Pakistani film ‘Jago Hua Savera’ was dropped from MAMI festival. But what did it achieve at the end of the day? Once again we have allowed our leaders to escape from the responsibility by targeting ‘art’.
Even before the Uri attack, India and Pakistan had suspended cricket matches for some years now (even as hockey matches between two countries were going on). That didn’t, however, stop a Pathankot attack.
Art is a reflection of a country’s society. It gives one a glimpse into the creative freedom that an artiste enjoys in the country. The same goes for innovators and entrepreneurs.
And Karan Johar seems such a nice, ‘perfect’ target. Karan is one rich celebrity who judges dance reality shows to earn money. He talks about love, loneliness and even depression. Karan Johar has no political affiliation. He doesn’t seem to have an opinion on political matters either.
Karan Johar just happens to be a normal citizen who is busy earning his livelihood like any one of us.
Sample this: Apple CEO Tim Cook defied a court order in the aftermath of a terrorist shooting in California, US. FBI wanted to see the data on the iPhone of one of the attackers but couldn’t get past Apple’s security features. So court asked Apple to create a software that would enable FBI to access the data. However, Cook refused, saying he is protecting Apple customers from hackers.
This is not to say that Karan Johar is Tim Cook, but to stress the difference in democratic rights that one enjoys in two different countries. While Cook decided to not cooperate with FBI in providing data of Apple customers seeking privacy concern as one of the reasons, we saw Karan Johar bowing down to political pressure. We are living in a time when having an opinion at once categorises one into having a – liberal, conservative, left-wing, right-wing, anti-national or nationalist influence or affiliation. Who cares about logic and reasons anyways?
Because it is easy to write 140 characters and prove one’s patriotism. Bashing people for having a different point of view has become fashionable.
Karan Johar is an influential entity in our society today. People love watching his movies and talk shows. At 44, he has managed to stay relevant. He also symbolises a free-spirited creative endeavour, something which New India could relate to.
What did he apologise for in that video? For making films, for casting a Pakistani actor in his film when circumstances between two countries were normal? By the same logic, our leaders should also prove their patriotism by apologising for a whole lot of scams, corruption, fake promises of bringing back black money and many other things.
Or was he apologising for being an ordinary citizen, doing ordinary stuff and having no opinion on the political atmosphere in the country? Or for being a filmmaker? Or for being just talented?