The Rs 5-cr hafta

That’s what India’s soft power was reduced to: A bargain between the extortionist and the artist with state as facilitator.

By: Editorial | Published:October 25, 2016 12:04 am

When Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis invited Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and Karan Johar and other representatives of the film industry to his official residence on Saturday to broker a truce — after the MNS threatened to disrupt the showing of Johar’s film Ae dil hai mushkil starring Pakistani actor Fawad Khan — he diminished the fundamental pact between the citizen and the state. The “solution” arrived at, payment of Rs 5 crore by the filmmaker to an army fund, resembles the hafta given to assuage the local bully who has already intimidated the policeman. That there should be a price tag to law and order, that a filmmaker should have to pay money to ensure a violence-free passage of a film, speaks of the times we live in when nationalism is becoming a cover for an everyday assault on civility and freedom by assorted non-state actors. But most of all, it speaks of the stark abdication by the chief minister and his government of its responsibility to ensure and protect the rule of law.

But there was more than one cave-in in last week’s meeting in Mumbai. Karan Johar and other industry seniors had an opportunity — to take the moral high ground, to stand up to the bully, and to show up the cravenness of their government by refusing to compromise with the freedom of speech and expression. They failed, but what was far worse, they didn’t even put up a fight. Far from defending the liberty to make the film they want, with the actors they choose, Johar and Co. have let the MNS frame the issue as one that involves nationalism and patriotism. They did not point out the obvious: That the campaign of threat and blackmail, MNS-style, is not about anybody’s love for the nation. That it is, in fact, about the danger posed by the politics of hate and insularity to creative freedoms. The Fadnavis-led BJP may arguably have acted on the political calculation that propping up the MNS and legitimising its politics would help it undermine the Shiv Sena, which is becoming a competitive, troublesome ally. The film producers may have felt pressured by the large sum of money and the several livelihoods that ride on a film as big as Johar’s. But in the end, for their own reasons, both the chief minister and the film producer have let Raj Thackeray and his goons seize the canvas and stunt the frame.

Tragically, the Mumbai drama was devoid of any high principle, it was only about the tawdry terms of a monetary transaction, at a time when it could have been about Mumbai reminding the nation of the real power of the idea of India. It gets reaffirmed, and becomes larger, when artists from other countries, including and especially from Pakistan, flock to it, to work and to make it their home. That idea of India is made up of the promise of a system more open and free, institutions more rule-bound, and a society more liberal and tolerant of diverse ideas, minorities and dissent. It took a blow in Mumbai on Saturday.

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    Sampat
    Oct 25, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    Though Indira herself created Bhindrawala, once he became a threat to unity of nation, Blue Star was me necessary. Army committed an act of bravery. Certain sections of a particular community term General Brar a traitor. That is unfortunate.
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      Mytake
      Oct 26, 2016 at 1:41 am
      It should be called terrorism tax!
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        J.S.Acharya Acharya
        Oct 25, 2016 at 9:13 am
        Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has maintained that he opposed the offer of Rs .5 crore contribution from the film makers to the Army Welfare Fund.Why still blame him? It is unfair.
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          Ajay G
          Oct 25, 2016 at 3:30 pm
          No amount of clarification justifies this cowardly act. Army should not accept this amount.
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            Bhakt
            Oct 25, 2016 at 3:21 pm
            Mulayam emplo CRPF at Ayodhya to throw Sadhus and Ram Bhakts in 1992 at Ayodhya. If some CRPF guys got killed I do not condemn Bhakts
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              Bhakt
              Oct 25, 2016 at 3:22 pm
              Throw in Saryuji.
              Reply
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                Alankar
                Oct 25, 2016 at 1:21 pm
                People are just watching haplessly. To come out of clutches of corrupt, dynastic and despotic rule of Congress, India has fallen to fanatic forces. It is not long before these forces show their true colour and turn into same demon as Congress has been.
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                  Alankar
                  Oct 25, 2016 at 3:08 pm
                  Who has nominated Raj Thackeray to seek condemnation from film director and actors?
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                    Ansari
                    Oct 25, 2016 at 11:50 am
                    Absolute failure of state administration in Mumbai.
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                      Amrit Srivastava
                      Oct 26, 2016 at 8:48 am
                      We don't have scarcity of talent in India, but there are proportionately talented artists outside India too, so it's a film-maker's prerogative to have a hand in his film's casting. If an actor from stan or China is having a valid visa given by the Ministry of Home Affairs and he or she fits the role of a director film's character to a T, then casting such actor won't make a director or producer less patriotic. People should understand that Art has no boundaries, people from different religions and age group connect with it. Terrorism and Art can never be on the same page. For example, despite Kashmir issue being unsolved and four Ind-Pak wars that have happened, We Indians continue to love legendary Pak artisits like Ghulam Ali and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for their work and so do the common people of Pak reciprocate the feeling of love and affection for Indian artists and Bollywood movies.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Bullying artists on either sides won't end cross-border terrorism. So, let our Government resolve this undying cross-border terrorism issue diplomatically by isolating Pak internationally or militarily by conducting more surgical strikes in the future.
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                        Anjan
                        Oct 25, 2016 at 8:52 pm
                        Shame on BJP and MNS.
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                          Anjuman Begum
                          Oct 31, 2016 at 6:57 am
                          very unfortunate
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                            Ashwani
                            Oct 25, 2016 at 1:49 pm
                            If it was Congress rule in Maharashtra, opposition would have dubbed it as attack on Mumbai skin in 26/11.
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                              Austine Vause
                              Oct 25, 2016 at 12:38 pm
                              Mumbai is a prominent city of India. This is tragic that freedom of expression is traded off.
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                                Austine Vause
                                Oct 25, 2016 at 12:40 pm
                                Your comparisons are laughable.
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                                  Ankur Gupta
                                  Oct 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm
                                  Sooner or later, Blue Star kind of operation will become necessary in Mumbai. Indiara and Sanjay nurtured Bhindrawale and Indira paid for it. BJP is nurturing MNS and will inevitably pay for it.
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                                    Lalit
                                    Oct 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm
                                    Mumbai has a completely different character then other metros. It reflects tolerant, secular picture of India. Majority political visitors come to New Delhi and majority of Business Travellers to Mumbai.
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                                      Luxman
                                      Oct 26, 2016 at 4:49 am
                                      He is an azz .
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                                        Bafna
                                        Oct 25, 2016 at 4:20 pm
                                        Rather nation is well in grip with secured borders and peace in land.
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                                          Abhinav
                                          Oct 25, 2016 at 5:20 pm
                                          Army should not be dragged in this muddy affair.
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                                            Abhinav
                                            Oct 25, 2016 at 2:00 pm
                                            One may sympathize with Fadnavis, knowing how powerful MNS is in Mumbai, Pune etc. But that is not solution to the situation.
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