Bollywood Film Banned
Learning about the culture of Rajasthan could probably take a lifetime, but I enjoy reading about how the modern and historical cultures influence each other. This week Bollywood released a new film called, “Jodhaa Akbar.” The story is a blend of film and fact, a popular trend for historial dramas or “factions.” This particular story is about a princess who has an alliance marriage in order to create peace across different parts of Rajasthan. The theme seems like a common trend in film-making, a way to teach people about history and entertain them. However, some critics disagree. The film was banned in cities like Jaipur because Rajasthani community groups are saying that the film promotes itself as fact, when certain aspects of the film are fictitious. I read an interesting, yet, meandering article about the controversy.
Betraying the Past
Here are a few poignant paragraphs from the article:
“The controversy created by the film Jodhaa Akbar and the opposition mounted mainly by sections of young Rajputs in Rajasthan raises a number of issues related to historical facts, poetical license of a creative and imaginative work of cinema or art, modern Rajput identity and the rising intolerance in the country.
It is true that factually the name of the Rajput princess married to Akbar probably was not Jodhabai, but it is not disputed that Rajput a princess from Amer-Jaipur was married to Akbar and other Rajput princesses from various Rajput states except Mewar or Udaipur were married to successive mughal emperors, often the marriages being arranged by Rajput mothers of mughal princes. This was part of a political alliance begun by enlightened and secular Akbar and by Rajput kings who were discerning enough to accept the realpolitik which could promote peace so that the kingdom and its people could flourish economically and be socially harmonious. [...]
Rajputs in Rajasthan, being small in numbers, are politically marginalised and divided. Many young people are unemployed and poor while other castes and communities like the Jats and Meenas have become more economically and politically powerful and have secured reservations, sometimes unjustly. These Rajput youth are trying to mobilise and express their anger by rallying to causes of honour and purity which gives them solace through a sense of identity and superiority in difficult times of transition.
Unless the young people in the country get proper education, employment and a wise leadership they will continue to rally around communal, regional and caste causes of narrow identity, past hurt and imagined purity of honor. The rich legacy of a composite, diverse and tolerant cultures is under threat. The threat is based on the false equation of a rich and complex cultural intercourse with impurity which is than translated as dishonour. The threat is projected as shrill moral policing as in the case of Jodhaa Akbar, as in the case of Raj Thackerey’s exclusivist Marathi ‘son of the soil’ pride, as in the hounding of Tasleema Nasreen by Muslim extremists. We Indians need to know that there’s only a thin dividing line between honor and intolerance, between pride and prejudice.”
Giri and Sadan saw the film this weekend during a visit to New Delhi. Sadan mentioned that it was rather long — a whopping four hours, to be exact. I asked him if he thought the film should have been banned and his response was, “No, it’s all monkey business. It’s a bunch of rubbish.” Apparently, some “community groups” dispute different issues in order to get money. Sometimes they say a film should be censored and then they are paid off by studios in order to show the films. I asked Sadan if he thought it was because of the Hindu-Muslim alliance that people disliked the film. He doesn’t think so. Sadan thought the movie was good and did not need to be censored. He just wished it was shorter.