Oh Prasoon, Our Nation Turns its Hopeful Eyes to You

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Oh Prasoon, Our Nation Turns its Hopeful Eyes to You

Illustration: Juergen Dsouza

 

D

ear Prasoon Joshi,

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You stand at the crossroads of history, as the man chosen from among many in the hope that you will put the sense back in the Censor Board. If history tells us anything, it is that heading the Board is a tough job. Not only do you have to fight with filmmakers over certifications and face media pressure on your decisions, you also have to watch movies like Jab Harry Met Sejal and Great Grand Masti. Sometimes repeatedly. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted.

If that is not enough, you also have a very large pair of shoes to fill. Mr Joshi, before you step into office, you must contend with the shadow of your predecessor, a man who worked so hard and cut so much that if he put in a bit more effort, many films could easily be released in GIF format. If he wanted, India could stake a claim to have invented a new kind of cinema. Like Udta Punjab, for which 89 cuts were ordered and even the word Punjab was asked to be removed. It was a strong signal to a generation of filmakers to make films only based on appeasement politics which lay the ground for pathbreaking works like Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, a three-hour ode to potty and political agenda. Prasoon, I hope you won’t ruin all his good work by allowing the release of smart films that tackle issues relevant to the times we live in.

In so many ways, Pahlaj Nihalani was a trailblazer. He led the nepotism charge against Saif Ali Khan long before it was cool, when he targeted former chief Sharmila Tagore for clearing Omkara without a cut. In doing so, he also kept alive the great Indian tradition of whataboutery and blaming former colleagues, which has been laid down in our country by cricketers blaming former captains and the BJP blaming the Congress for every current failure.

Speaking of politics, I hope, dear Prasoon, you will never hold against Mr Nihalani, the “Har Har Modi” video that he made and starred in. What he was doing in that video was subliminally telling us that in India, kissing ass is ok but just kissing is not. Kissing, he believed, is against Indian culture even if James Bond is doing it. Foreplay, he believed, set all kinds of unrealistic expectations for couples, leading to dissatisfying sex lives. In fact, to protect our sex lives he went ahead and just banned sex in cinema. No wonder he didn’t want the release of films like Lipstick Under my Burkha which has disturbing scenes like the one where a couple has sex in missionary position. Everything we need to know about sex he wanted us to learn from the internet because everyone knows that nowhere will you get a more realistic depiction of sex than internet porn.

Imagine, we could have had our own Gormint Aunty given our love for cuss words! We have reached a point that today, if we don’t get a “madarchod!” from someone in the train after we accidentally step on his foot, it ruins our day.

On the subject of the internet, one of the most important questions you must ask yourself, Mr Joshi, is what kind of memes do you want India to create? Pahlaj and his active interest in sex kept the internet busy these last couple of years, while our neighbours in Pakistan launched the foul-mouthed Gormint Aunty. Imagine, we could have had our own Gormint Aunty given our love for cuss words! We have reached a point that today, if we don’t get a “madarchod!” from someone in the train after we accidentally step on his foot, it ruins our day. We have nutured these words to the point that there is now a poetic ring to them. Friends greet each other with “Kaisa hai chutiye?” out of sheer love. If Pahlaj hadn’t banned a long list of cuss words within days of taking control, the Gormint Aunty inside each one of us would have come alive and India would be a different place.

In fact, as I write this Mr Joshi, I wonder how will you ever match up? What will you stand for? Pahlaj worked tirelessly to earn his “Sanskari Chief” tag. Sanskar was in his heart, sanskar was in his veins, his blood, his pants. Pahlaj Nihalani was so sanskari that Alok Nath would look at him and feel ashamed about himself.

You, Mr Joshi, are like the guy who has to replace Donald Trump as the President of the United States. If you don’t call people names and embarrass yourself every three minutes, you would have done a decent job.

Try not to fuck it up. We are all rooting for you.

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