VHP is hardly known for its intellectual faculty and tolerance, and they have displayed it again by asking for a ban on Kamal Hassan’s upcoming movie Uttama Villain.
The organization believes that a song in movie is disrespectful to Lord Vishnu and could hurt the sentiments of Hindus. The concerned song is reported to be a conversation between Vishnu devotee Prahalad and his father Hiranyakashipu.
Those well versed in Hindu history and mythology would know that Hiranyakashipu was a villain who abhorred Lord Vishnu. His hatred was so strong that he attempted to kill his son Prahalad, who had become a devotee of Lord Vishnu, by burning him alive. That failed attempt is celebrated as Holika Dahan and is the crucial part of the Holi festival.
Now it is obvious that such a character will utter only disparaging and disrespectful words about Lord Vishnu. If the movie shows the same, it can’t be accused of endorsing words of a villain and hurting sentiments on purpose.
When a writer composes dialogues for a negative character, it doesn’t reflect his own thinking or morality, but that of the character. And the writer can’t be accused of endorsing those views.
How rational and justified will it be to blame Salim Khan or Javed Akhtar for dialogues attributed to Gabbar Singh in the movie Sholay? Obviously, everyone will laugh at such an accusation.
This is a creative and literary aspect that VHP seems to have missed.
But being a “regressive” and “conservative” organization (as it is often accused by the media and intelligentsia), VHP is only expected to behave this way. Of course, it doesn’t justify their demands, but there is an explanation of what makes them behave that way.
But what explains the inability of our “progressive” and “liberal” crowd, which accuses Goswami Tulsidas, the author of Ramcharitmanas, of endorsing views of a negative character?
In case you are confused what we are pointing to, try to recall how many times you have heard the following lines as an example of Tulsidas being misogynist, casteist, and elitist:
dhol, ganwaar, shudra, pashu, naari,
sakal taadna ke adhikaari.
The literal transition comes to – drum, villager, dalit, animal, or woman; these deserve corporal punishment.
Obviously such statement reflects misogynist, casteist, and elitist mindset. But does it reflect Tulsidas’ thinking because he wrote it?
In this case, our “liberal” intelligentsia almost behaves like the VHP by not caring about the context of the above quoted statement and to whom it is attributed in the book (a work of art, like a movie).
The statement is attributed to a negative character named “Samudra” (the sea) who had been acting all arrogant and rebellious against Lord Rama, refusing to cooperate with him when he wanted to travel to Lanka to save his wife.
According to Sunder Kaand in Ramcharitmanas, where these lines appear, repeated polite and respectful requests by Lord Rama for cooperation were falling on the deaf ears of Samudra. Soon after, Lord Rama challenged him for a duel if he stuck to his arrogant and rebellious stand.
Afraid of Lord Rama’s might, Samudra immediately surrendered, and among many things, spoke the aforementioned sentences trying to justify his own shenanigans and Lord Rama’s anger against him.
It is clear that a negative character spoke those lines under duress after displaying a twisted temperament. But for decades, the so-called liberal intelligentsia has been repeating these lines to “prove” that Tulsidas and Ramcharitmanas endorse regressive and casteist views.
While rightly blasting off VHP for their silly stand on Kamal Hassan’s movie, we hope that the same people also do some soul searching and introspect what makes them behave like the VHP when it comes to criticizing Hindu texts.