Sunday November 18, 2018

Creating fear, intolerance not good for society: Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt

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New Delhi: Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt speaks up against the rising intolerance in the country as other film makers choose to remain mum. He said that such acts ‘ridicule’ our constitution and ‘debunks’ Indias claim of being a democracy.

Bhatt, who has made Janam, Arth, Naam among other acclaimed films, said that although he was happy that the nation had collectively responded to the shameful deeds which indicate intolerance, the ink attacks and the banning of Pakistani artists like legendary singer Ghulam Ali and actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan from performing or working in Maharashtra was a question mark on our democracy.

“It kind of ridicules our constitution, it shames the police, and it debunks our claim of being a democracy.”

“And when you tamper with a god-given gift in men of free thought and free speech, to create fear is not good for any individual, nor for society,” Bhatt told IANS in an interview.

Last Monday, a group claiming to be the Shiv Sena workers, blackened the face of former BJP ideologue Suneendra Kulkarni with ink while he was on his way to the launch of a book by former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri in Mumbai.

A week later, Kashmir legislator Engineer Rashid, who has been protesting against the killing in Udhampur of a truck driver for allegedly carrying a cow in his vehicle, had his face blackened while addressing a press conference here.

Ghulam Ali, who was scheduled to perform in Mumbai, was forced to pull out after the Shiv Sena threatened to disrupt the proceedings. As for the two Pakistani actors, they were told they would not be permitted to promote a film that is currently being shot in Mumbai.

At the same time, Bhatt admitted that one would have to live with the kind of elements that staged the attacks and show intolerance against another community.

“Instead of using this moment to create a further gap between them and us (the attackers and civil society), I would request them (the protesters) to fall in line with what our forefathers fought for. In a country which has such diversity, the most important thing that we need to do this time is to fight for the right of somebody else to be different, which we are not doing,” the Hamari Adhuri Kahani producer and writer said.

And, in an attempt to find common ground between India and Pakistan, Bhatt is coming up with a play titled Milne Do, which is a collaborative effort of theatre actors from the two countries.

Milne Do is through theatre. Theatre has got a limited audience but nevertheless reflects the ideology of civil society; celebrating the human values, those values which are as much sacred in Pakistan as they are sacred in India. Milne do would celebrate those values,” the 67-year-old said.

The play is an intense love story between two culturally-crossed individuals during times of abject hatred. It will be staged on April 24 at Shri Ram Centre here before travelling to other cities of India and Pakistan.

In another attempt on the same lines, Bhatt who made his directorial debut with Manzilen Aur Bhi Hainn  in 1974, has upcoming Punjabi film Dushman in his kitty, which will unfold a new chapter of friendship between the two countries.

Dushman is a Punjabi film because I feel that this is the time the regional cinema all over the country today is asserting itself; there is a resurgence of regional cinema. India doesn’t live only in Bollywood. Bollywood doesn’t represent the voice of India alone. There is Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Hyderabad, Bhojpuri and Punjab!,” he said.

“Punjabi cinema has an audience of its own and it has suffered a lot during partition. There is a yearning to make a Punjabi film which looks at the issue of Indo-Pak hostility with enlightened eyes. I think Dushman also revisits that idea of the enemy and there is a great quote of Nizamuddin Auliya that to live is to love your enemy…,” Bhatt said.

Associated with the Hindi film industry for over four decades, Bhatt is now seen as a narrator, exploring tales of some of Bollywood’s most iconic personalities in the The EPIC Channel TV show Khwaabon ka Safar with Mahesh Bhatt, which started on October 19.

Talking about the quality of the narratives in Bollywood movies today, Bhatt said these have gone down even as technological progress had taken the films to global standards.

“The mainstream is not as adventurous as our predecessors used to be. If you look at the stories of the people in the past, they were very brave people who went against the tide and told stories in their own unique way. They did not worry so much about whether it will work or not work. We have today lost the spark of being unique and distinct. We are frightened of being ourselves,” he concluded.

(Kishori Sud, IANS)

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  • Annu Chopra

    when hindus themselves do not tolerate hindu outfits /govt, expect muslims to exploit the golden opportunity to defame india nad push their own agenda. The bhatts and khans never spoke about intolerance of hindus/hindu religion in pakistan and middle east. But now even if one muslim locality dog dies, it is labelled as “increasing intolerance”. such persons are traitors and must be kicked out.

Next Story

Curb Racism And Semitic Intolerance In The U.S: UN Human Rights Expert

She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space.

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Pittsburgh, Hate, shooting
Monks pay their respects at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue following Saturday's shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Penn. VOA

Following the shooting deaths of 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the eastern United States, a U.N. human rights expert urged governments on Monday to do more to curb racist and anti-Semitic intolerance, especially online.

“That event should be a catalyst for urgent action against hate crimes, but also a reminder to fight harder against the current climate of intolerance that has made racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes and beliefs more acceptable,” U.N. Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume said of Saturday’s attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Achiume, whose mandate is the elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, noted in her annual report that “Jews remain especially vulnerable to anti-Semitic attacks online.”

racist
A mother and her child arrive to place flowers at a spontaneous memorial of flowers and sidewalk writing a block from the Tree of Life Synagogue. VOA

She said that Nazi and neo-Nazi groups exploit the internet to spread and incite hate because it is “largely unregulated, decentralized, cheap” and anonymous.

Achiume, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, said neo-Nazi groups are increasingly relying on the internet and social media platforms to recruit new members.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are among their favorites.

Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
A person pauses in front of Stars of David with the names of those killed in a deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue, in Pittsburgh. VOA

On Facebook, for example, hate groups connect with sympathetic supporters and use the platform to recruit new members, organize events and raise money for their activities. YouTube, which has over 1.5 billion viewers each month, is another critical communications tool for propaganda videos and even neo-Nazi music videos. On Twitter, according to one 2012 study cited in the special rapporteur’s report, the presence of white nationalist movements on that platform has increased by more than 600 percent.

The special rapporteur noted that while digital technology has become an integral and positive part of most people’s lives, “these developments have also aided the spread of hateful movements.”

She said in the past year, platforms including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have banned individual users who have contributed to hate movements or threatened violence, but ensuring the removal of racist content online remains difficult.

The Tree of Life Synagogue, racist
One man pays his respect in front of a Star of David memorial for one of the 11 victims killed in the Oct. 27, 2018, synagogue shooting. VOA

Some hate groups try to get around raising red flags by using racially coded messaging, which makes it harder for social media platforms to recognize their hate speech and shut down their presence.

Achiume cited as an example the use of a cartoon character “Pepe the Frog,” which was appropriated by members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups and was widely displayed during a white supremacist rally in the southern U.S. city of Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Also Read: U.N. Reports Global Cocaine, Opium Production At Heights

 

The special rapporteur welcomed actions in several states to counter intolerance online, but cautioned it must not be used as a pretext for censorship and other abuses. She also urged governments to work with the private sector — specifically technology companies — to fight such prejudices in the digital space. (VOA)