Mersal and Ban Ki Baat

Satire

Mersal and Ban Ki Baat

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

W

hen we were growing up we were all told about the ostrich who buries his head in the sand at the sight of danger. I didn’t believe it. Why would this otherwise fine animal with a brain as big as a walnut do something so foolish? Why would anyone?

But then I saw the Indian government in action.

Our government has been very busy. The war on GST and its problematic implementation is being fought on the front foot – by demanding a ban on dialogues from movies. According to the current dispensation, banning, apparently, solves everything. If you don’t talk about it, the problem ceases to exist.

The evidence is all there. If we had gone ahead and stuck to the plan and not allowed Lipstick Under My Burkha to release, would we have to deal with the pesky problem of female sexual desire? Or then take the drug problem in Punjab, which was actually caused by Udta Punjab. Before the movie, there was no widespread substance abuse in the state. And if the problem didn’t exist, there was no need to look for a solution.

We are a country that believes in a better version of ourselves. Sanskar is in our veins, sanskar is in our blood.

Udta Punjab also unfairly misrepresented another problem that we obviously don’t have – cussing! A lot of cuss words were proposed to be banned from the movie. Who uses expletives in India, anyway? The other day, I stamped on an uncle’s foot in the train, and he did an aarti of me while the entire coach gleefully cheered. We are the politest people in the world, every time there’s an accident, people come out of their cars and invite each other for dinner. The beep in Roadies is actually a technical glitch.

We are a country that believes in a better version of ourselves. Sanskar is in our veins, sanskar is in our blood. And a lot of it was spilled on the sets of Padmavati recently, when the Rajput Karni Sena vandalised the set of the movie. The movie has not released yet, nor do we know if history has been distorted in the film. We do not even know if Padmini was a real, historical character. But why should logic or rationale stop anyone from forming their opinion about the film? India is a free country and opinions are greater than facts. Some bitter people will say that the Karni Sena did it for 15 seconds of fame, which is not true, because it clearly lasted for hours on Arnab’s show.

But I’m being unfair here. I can’t give the BJP and its motley crew of fundamentalist randos full credit for the ostrich syndrome. A similar sentiment was also echoed by the Congress before the release of Indu Sarkar. The movie was based on the sensitive topic of the Emergency and the party, being the philosophical architects of this crucial part of modern Indian history, obviously sought to get it banned. It didn’t happen, but then nothing happens in favour of the Congress these days.

Unfortunately, political parties have supported the ban culture only when in power. Not when in the opposition.

The benefits of banning things in movies to solve problems aren’t only domestic – they have international implications as well. Like the time Karan Johar announced that he would never work with Pakistani actors again, post Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. That announcement has been a stepping stone in the solution to long-standing Indo-Pak problem. Since the time we lopped off Fawad’s parts, there has been no terrorist activity near the border areas or any cross-border terrorism. In fact, Hafiz Saeed converted to Buddhism and is planning to attain nirvana. No one has died on either side of the border and the credit for this must go the most visionary leader India has had post-Independence – Raj Thackeray.

Unfortunately, political parties have supported the ban culture only when in power. Not when in the opposition.

The moment they are in the opposition, whether it’s the BJP or the Congress, they become proponents of free speech and expression. The cancerous notion that people can think and say whatever they want. That is so stupid. When you give people freedom to say whatever they want, they will end up saying a lot of stupid things.

The average person on the street isn’t half as intelligent as politicians like Mulayam Singh, Sakshi Maharaj, or Akbaruddin Owaisi. These are the men who lead by example and show us the way. They know when and how to say the right things that binds our country together. Every time Sangeet Som opens his mouth, India climbs up five places on the World Happiness Index.

“Bans are so integral to our country, maybe we should just rename it Ban-chod.”

Banning stuff is the only way things stay in order. We banned beef and politics over the cow has ceased. We banned jeans in colleges and modesty has been restored.

We are from a land where discipline is the only way to rein people in: Like when you beat up children, they never lie again. If governments block porn sites, no one watches porn ever again, and if you ban 500 and 1,000-rupee notes for a few days, black money automatically… okay, let’s not go there. As a great man once said, “Bans are so integral to our country, maybe we should just rename it Ban-chod.”

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