There once existed an organisation in India that went by the name of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Its job was to ensure that the movies made did not have any “objectionable” content, and if they did, to censor and certify them accordingly. Strangely, even though the organisation still exists and is still functioning, one might be forgiven if they assume that its job has been taken over by the the political parties of India.
As guardians of our morality and sensitivity, these parties have taken it upon themselves to protect our impressionable minds from the cancerous influence of such “corrupting” movies. So when a Muslim organisation raises objections over certain scenes in Kamal Haasan’s movie Vishwaroopam, which apparently hurt the sentiments of the community , our politicians are quick to hijack the issue and garner whatever brownie points they can. As a result, we see politicos across shades- from Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalitha to Uttar Pradesh CM Mulayam Singh, imparting their words of wisdom on the issue. In the ensuing hullabaloo, people seem to have forgotten that the movie in question had already been passed by the CBFC, its role being subsumed into the ever expanding umbrella of our rajnetas.
This interference, sadly, is not a new phenomenon. Our politicians have been attempting to poke their enlightened noses into Bollywood since the last many years. So, we have Fanaa that was banned in Gujarat because Aamir Khan displeased Narendra Modi and we also have Raajneeti and Aarakshan, both by Prakash Jha, that ran into trouble with the Congress. If Vishwaroopam displeased the Muslims, Kadal displeased the Christians. Our politicians, however, presume to speak for all of them.
So why do our rajnetas interfere with Bollywood? For they may be many things, but they are definitely not fools. The fact remains that India is still a land obsessed with heroes. The cult of hero worship, as B. R. Ambedkar put it, is still a driving force in politics and to a large extent, in Bollywood. Our Politicians do what they do because they spot the power Bollywood has over the masses. They realize that if they can exercise a substantial control over our movies, they can, in the process, control their own vote banks. They can, if they so desire, use them as tools to appease certain sections of the society which they perceive might vote in their favor. They also realize the hold emotive issues like caste and religion have over the Indian electorate and the power they have to divert the voter’s mind from real issues like rising unemployment, slowing economic growth and inflation. Why would anyone worry about such mundane issues when they can squabble over whether a movie should be banned or not.
Winston Churchill once remarked on the eve of Indian independence that India could never be a sustainable democracy, for they were not mature enough to exercise their vote properly. He said that Indians needed a long period of benevolent dictatorship before a transition to a democratic form of governance could be made. Our politicians seem to have taken his words as a guiding force. Why else would they be on a benevolent mission to protect our “immature minds” from the unspeakable evils of Bollywood?