Day by day, India goes more intolerant and “stars” go more escapist

Dear Mr. Anupam Kher,

Greetings of the day. Amidst all the appreciation and attention that you keep receiving, would you allow us to ask a few humble questions? We are dumb laymen; we know and understand far less than you do. But at times, the outbursts of suppressed questions and emotions overtake common sense, and thus we would dare to put a question mark on the latest remarks you’ve been making.

Dadri, Uttar Pradesh. A man was brutally killed because he was “suspected” to have eaten beef (as if that’s a crime according to the constitution of India); a foolish suspection which later was proven false. M.M Kalburgi, a secular liberal and progressive author from Karnataka was shot dead at his residence on 30th August 2015 by two “unidentified” men. Two of the many incidents which clearly show where India stands today. On the verge of extreme intolerance.

Why precisely? Because a group of rigid intolerant people want the beast of “Hindutva” and its ideologies to run the country? As an obvious outcome of which, all the modes of information, education and Entertainment that might mold or affect public opinion are suppressed. Students of Film & Television Institute of India have to strike for 139 long days because they want an administrator chosen upon qualification and not political or religious colours. The “autonomous” Prasar Bharati Board is packed with four figures from the rulling dispensation. Central Board of Film Certification has a problem with any film that carries in it a progressive outlook which might put the orthodox outlooks at stake; and therefore, has taken banning as a hobby. But of course, there’s no intolerance in the country and happiness is blooming.

India has been witnessing a series of artists including writers and filmmakers returning their national awards as a gesture against the growing intolerance in the country; which you find to be an “anti national act”. It’s at the same time surprising and shocking how a veteran artist like you can be this much ignorant and insensitive while making a public comment; on an issue which directly relates to the fundamental rights practised by the citizens of India. Forget practising one’s own religion or the freedom to speech and expression (both of which are guaranteed by the consitution of India), even a simple choice of food (that apparently goes against the code of food as decided by hindutvavadis) seems to be a sin and wow! How comfortably you choose to overlook that. So much of overlooking that you decide to go to the President of India with the message that India is doing completely fine, with no presence of intolerance.

We do expect public figures to firmly speak against them. To our much pleasure, that’s what Shah Rukh Khan did on his 50th birthday, clearly stating that India is absolutely going through a turbulance caused by such intolerance and that art is not supposed to barriered by the walls of politics or religion. Of course, stating anything progressive is turning more dangerous in this apparently secular country and Shah Rukh was severely criticised for what he said, being referred to as a “Pakistani” and more. Just when we were wondering what your stand might be, we saw you condemning those who threw virtual slaps on Shah Rukh Khan.

Aren’t these forms of intolerance too? Isn’t it the scary growing shape of rigidity where noone is allowed to put across his opinion? We wonder what sort of diplomatic stand is it, where you stand by your celebrity co-star but don’t buy his opinion!

You must be taking pride of being an artist, just like we are proud of artists like you; artists who bring our country name and pride. Before you say ‘there’s no intolerance”, just remember your fellow countrymen who gave up lives at the hand of rising intolerance and violence. After an year, noone will be remembering how those lives were gone. But, the scars of inhumanity will be burning alive. Forever in our minds.

Those scars are too hard to overlook, and we are not sure if a country full of such scars will love you like it does today.

-Yours faithfully,

the frustrated countrymen.