The terrorism of bans

viswaroopam poster
Honestly if anything should be considered offensive in the film, then that eye-blinding hairstyle should top the list.

Let me begin by setting the tone for the piece.

I am told that there is the distant possibility that the film may actually be offensive to some people.  Keeping that in mind, here is my disclaimer –

 Boo – fucking – hoo. Grow up. The world is not here to cuddle you and whatever fantasies you harbour. Like the noble Forrest Gump, via screenplay writer Eric Rith, once said – shit happens.

 Unless Kamal Hassan personally came over and gave you a tight, hard slap across the face and screamed “terrorist” before spitting in your eye, no one cares.

Moving along…

Is the recent attack on Kamal’s Vishwaroopam a form of terrorism? You bet your illegal pirated prints of the film it is.

It is not terrorism because they lack a legitimate complaint – after all any one can be offended by anything.

It is the pooh-poohing of our right to live how we want – while militantly and often violently enforcing a narrow point of view that only agrees with some people’s sentiments – which can rightfully be called terrorism.

Terrorism is the usage of strong-arm tactics to enforce one point of view. While suicide bombers are its most in-your-face form, these sort of enforced bans (with the underlying threat of repercussions if the ban is not enforced) in a secular nation is nothing other than “cultural terrorism”.

Another form of it can be seen in the ease with which the film got banned in succession in several places – Andhra, Karnataka, Malaysia etc.

This mindless surrender is the natural reaction, thanks to earlier events when vast swathes of people instantly joined a cause they could not possibly identify with.

This form of terrorism can be called “collective terrorism” – fear induced through the threat of a massive, hysterical, barbaric reaction at a global scale.

Once “prevention is better than cure” was a comforting thing my mother told me when she bundled me into sweaters on cold days.

Today the phrase has a sinister glint, tossed off by lackeys practically drooling over the implied threat, a thin veil over the barely hidden message – “We will kill you if we have to…”

Not only does this cheapen any claims of grievance, but it also shows the disturbingly easy draping of the “Muslim” coat over more logical and ancient garments like Tamil, Kannadiga, Indian or even Asian.

When they the write the history of our times, these incidences of automatic grouping will be identified as the bricks with which a community sealed themselves in.

If the point is to tell us that not all Muslims are the same (and therefore we should stop calling them that) then perhaps there should not be so much angry rhetoric, such easy-to-slight egos or such eagerness to ban everything.

To take this particular case as an example – Millions of Indians were denied this film  because hundreds of thousands of Muslims were supposedly “deeply offended”.

Nearly all of these hundreds of thousands did not see the film and will probably never see the film. All we have as evidence of their “deep offense” is the word of a few hundred angry people on the streets, whose actions caused a vote-bank appeasing and spineless government to once again bow down before fundamentalists.

After all, remember the last time? Something like this only went totally out of control na? Who wants that kind of trouble ra?

Oh my Tamils. So bold and arrogant are you in your Tamil pride. What should I tell you now, when the Americans can watch a Kamal movie before you?

But look on the bright side – at least you haven’t fallen as low as my fellow Kannadigas, who went and vandalized a theatre in Mysore – therefore having the fun effect of reducing the culture and movie-going experience in their own state for the sake of a Tamil film that none of them even saw.

(Because I presume in such issues, there is no Kannada-Tamil conflict and the Kaveri is just another stream isn’t it?)

No one is going to suddenly gain or lose his or her Islamophobia because of this film.

But I assure you, that bans like this one are only reducing the space, on both sides, for “talks” since, effectively, we have been denied the means to have anything to talk about.

I know the narrative is far, far more complicated than that. I am aware that much of what I have said above can be rationalized and explained in a larger context of history and culture. And I know the crazy people are a small minority of a larger people.

But let me break a cold truth that apparently no one in your sitting rooms bothers to tell you when you sip your chai lattes together, praising the wonders of each others’ civilizations.

No one cares what the bigger narrative is.

Not because people are unusually stupid in our times – they are as stupid as they ever were. But because there is no one to give them an opposing view, no one is show them that there is another side of the coin.

And the expectation that they will go find that side by themselves is ludicrous. The world is not here to understand or sympathize.

Now that the film is banned, all we are left with is this – a few angry Muslims just caused another ban. Because something, somewhere offended what they think is right or wrong, and the rest of us must simply do what they say – because they are Muslims and they can vandalize buildings.

That’s it.

If your violent threat is “Don’t provoke our moderates”, my only response can be “I am glad at least one of us can see them”

– Lord Akoroth

PS: Ban this as well… that will really jack up my understanding…

PPS: It’s Kamal Hassan in a big-budget action thriller that he himself produced, undoubtedly doubling his desperation to ensure everyone likes it and makes it a hit.

How much off the beaten path do you HONESTLY think he is going to go?

Personally, here is what I feel – I don’t fucking know because I haven’ t been able to fucking see it now, have I?

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