“Science and Religion are not at odds. Science is simply too young to understand.”- Dan Brown, in “Angels & Demons” via the protagonist Robert Langdon. There are certain events, elements, existences which, till date are beyond the realm of science and it is in these areas where the ‘older sibling’, religion that comes to the fore.
Superstition, on the other hand, is a belief system, which cannot be explained by science or by reason. It is also not specific to any particular religion. Nor is religious dogma. However, we have witnessed a common tendency among film makers and authors from India and abroad to associate such religious dogma and superstition only with the Hindu religious practices. The reason for the same could be their wrong perception of Hinduism or the fact that Hindus never retaliate if their religion is painted in negative light. Besides there could be an even bigger agenda behind the same – that of whitewashing Hindutva from the minds of Hindus themselves. There cannot be a better way to exterminate the world’s oldest religion other than getting its own followers to denounce it since films have a wide reach amongst one and all and have a deep impact on the minds of people.
While Bollywood is infamous for the rabid anti Hindu films continuously churned out by them, which, most believe are causing their films to bomb at the box office, the other film industries are also not far behind in exhibiting such paranoia as far as the Hindus are concerned. The primary defaulter on that count is the Bengali film industry.
Bengal, which was once the cultural capital of India, can easily be credited for it’s superlative performance in film making. Till the 80s, Bengali films inspired films in several other languages including Hindi. The success of Bengali films was rooted in Bengal’s rich literature. However, contemporary literature in Bengal witnessed a sea change with the increasing influence of the Leftist ideology, which, subsequently reflected in the films too causing their quality to dwindle. The fact that films became a political tool for the leftists to further their agenda caused the films to sink deeper and deeper into the quagmire of ignominy. Yet they continued with their leftist propaganda oblivious to their plight or simply not caring for it.
Painting Hindus in poor light is an integral part of the Leftist agenda and the Bengali films have moved one notch ahead of the Hindi films in such a portrayal. Hence the boycott trend of Bollywood films, which was the primary reason for the disastrous performance of Amir Khan’s ‘Lal Singh Chadda’ is being followed for some Bengali films too. Two recent releases, ‘DharmaJuddha’ by Raj Chakraborty – masala filmmaker and TMC MLA and ‘Bismillah’ by composer turned film director, Indraadip Dasgupta, met with a worse fate than ‘Lal Singh Chadda’ at the box office due to their abject misrepresentation of the Hindu religion and also due to poor script and shoddy acting performances. Raj Chakraborty has blamed his political adversary, the BJP and it’s supporters for the same. However, it is needless to say that if a film is boycotted in Bengal for sheer wrongful portrayal of hindus, given the fact that Bengal has been home to a huge chunk of leftist liberals or Hindus living in denial mode who are also avid cine-lovers, then it is apparent that it is not just the BJP and its supporters who are boycotting the film. The makers of such films need to seriously introspect on the content of their films and go for serious course connection if they want to taste success.
The recent addition to the anti-Hindu film brigade is the film ‘Lokkhi Chele (Good Boy)’ slated to release on the 26th of this month. The film is produced by the most celebrated film making duo of Bengal, Nandita Roy & Shibaprasad Mukherjee. The duo, coming straight out of their successful venture, ‘Bela Shuru’, is all set to launch their direct offensive against the Sanatanis of Bengal with their film, ‘Lokkhi Chele’ set in rural Bengal. The instant film is directed by 4-time National Award winner, Kaushik Ganguly, who is known for his films focusing on erotica in the garb of human relationships and homosexuality. The duo of Nandita Roy and Shibaprasad Roy have often portrayed the Hindu community negatively in their films, particularly their 2019 film, ‘Gotra’. However, the duo has been able to hit the right chord with the urban Bengali middle class which has led to the success of almost all their films, while the rest of the other Bengali films find hardly any takers. Their films excel in storytelling and mostly speak about the daily life of the urban Bengali, which is the secret of their success. This time around, they have shifted from their usual formula and have ventured into rural Bengal and have also not directed the film themselves but have chosen an extremely aggressive film director, Kaushik Ganguly, whose skills in pushing forth any narrative are unparalleled as was evident from his films like ‘Arekti Premer Galpo’ based on homosexuality, ‘Nagar Kirtan’ dealing with the life of a transgender, ‘Bisorjon’- an attempt by him to fan the fire of pseudo secularism through the portrayal of a romantic liaison between a Hindu widow and a Muslim man.
The Film, ‘Lokkhi Chele’, which claims to be based on a true story, is a take-off from the 1985 Hindi film by Utpalendu Chalraborty, ‘Dev Shishu’, starring Om Puri and Smita Patil, which tried its best to project the Hindus of rural India as illiterate, superstitious lot, who indulge in ‘meaningless’ and ‘harmful’ practices for the sake of religion. The instant film also does the same and appears to be seeped in Hindu hate even more than the earlier film. The film trailer opens with a group of dhoti-clad men marching down the muddy village path holding aloft Bhagwa flags, chanting mantras. In the said village, a girl child is born with four arms and the villagers instantly start considering her as the reincarnation of Maa Lakshmi, by virtue of her four arms. They throng a camp where the baby is lodged, in large numbers just to catch a glimpse of her and seek her blessings. In the midst of all this brouhaha, a group of three medical students arrive in the village, the reason for the same could not be ascertained from the film trailer. When they hear about the saga of the ill-fated baby girl, they embark on a mission to deliver her from her current sorrowful plight by attempting to operate on her and remove her extra arms, which are nothing but a mere deformity, the removal of which would cause the girl to lead an absolutely normal life. They take the child’s mother into confidence to embark on their venture, which they consider as their duty as students of medicine. However, they are faced with steep resistance from the village leaders who are staunch Hindus and certainly believe that the baby girl is a product of the divine. Amidst myriad constraints – the resistance by the dogmatic villagers and their powerful leaders on the one hand and the fear of their own failure, they successfully remove the baby’s extra arms. Now that we get to the climax of the film’s trailer, we realize that the young man who was the most determined amongst the three to deliver justice to the baby girl is called Amir Hussain and a sensible looking village elder prays for their success along with his community members. It is not surprising that the village elder is called Anwar Bhai. The film also claims that the dalit community of rural Bengal are constantly subject to discrimination and subjugation by the upper casts , when anybody who is remotely connected with Bengal would state that cast was never a major issue in Bengal. The film is a launch and relaunch pad of Bengal’s start kids with Ganguly’s son, Ujaan essaying the role of the protagonist, Amir Hussain, while the other two youngsters are Rittika Pal and Purab Acharya, son of renowned Bengali singer, Srikanta Acharya.
The film’s trailer obviously leads to a lot of questions :
- The trailer and the subsequent tweets by the film’s makers and actors claim that the film , which delves into the conflict between science and religion, is extremely relevant to this day. The backdrop of the film is rural Bengal. Can those who are familiar with rural Bengal confirm if the points enunciated in the film are really the problems faced by rural Bengal? We, for all know that it is not. The problems staring the Bengal villages in the face are lack of proper infrastructure, housing and lack of jobs. Are the film’s makers trying to whitewash these genuine problems facing rural Bengal with the cover of hindumisia?
- Even if the villagers were carrying on with the unhealthy practice of deification of the baby girl , thus harming her by stalling her return to healthy life, why did it require an Amir Hussain to come to the rescue of the villagers? Couldn’t an Anindo, Anirban, Abhijhit, Abhra have done the same? If one wants to perform a philanthropic act , does it matter whether one is Amir or Arya or Albert? Portraying someone from a specific community as a protagonist, who is out on a mission to rescue people from the ‘negative’ practices of another community, can only imply one point – that the rescued community is being painted as inferior to that of the rescuer. This shameless attempt at appeasement also exposes the fake secularism of these self-proclaimed liberal film makers, who leave no stones unturned to project a particular community, viz. the Hindus in poor light. The film’s catchline, that the ‘Lokkhi Chele’ (Good Boy) would be rescuing the Hindus’ revered goddess of wealth and prosperity, Maa Lakshmi also is a brazen revelation of the film’s sheer message – that a hindu deity is at the mercy of a ‘Lokkhi Chele’ Amir Hussain implying the negative and inferior portrayal of one community at the cost of the other. It is extremely distasteful of any work of art to denigrate an entire community of people. Was this done to satisfy a specific clientele of theirs on the other side of the border?
- The tweets and facebook posts by the film’s makers display their chest thumping with such messages that this film is a bold attempt at displaying religious dogma. If the film’s makers were to be so bold and courageous they would not shy away from portraying such dogma and unhealthy practices prevalent in other religious communities too? Speaking of rural Bengal, would they ever dare to make a film on a village in Murshidabad, where the village heads had put up a notification to abide by such ‘Sharia’ –type practices as No usage of cell Phones, No Music, No romantic relationships outside marriage et al and non-compliance of the same would attract stringent punishment and fines? Would they care to speak on the practices of Nikah Halala, Polygamy and genital mutilation practiced amongst a large section of a particular community? Would they care to talk of the killing spree by certain bigots amongst a particular religious’ community, as a ‘punishment’ for non-believers, particularly if they feel that their religious sentiments are hurt?
- Since when did staunch Hindus become so powerful as to resist the members of the well-endowed liberal community, as shown in the film? The reality speaks a different story, that of the former being the constant target of numerous attacks, particularly in rural areas, which forms the backdrop of the film.
One may question the Censor Board for permitting such a rabid Hindumisic film to pass through their scissors. However, according to a report by the online portal of Zee 24 Ghanta dated August 22, 2022, renowned fashion designer, Agnimitra Paul, who is a member of the Censor Board in Kolkata and currently and currently a Bengal BJP MLA, had not given her consent to the release of a film filled with such a violent and negative portrayal of the rural Hindus of Bengal. However, the film, which was made a couple of years back, stars Babul Supriyo in a pivotal role. He was a Central Minister at that time and had used his clout to get the film passed by the Censor Board. The singer cum actor is now a minster of the TMC-led government of West Bengal, having witched loyalties after being dropped from the Central Ministry in 2021. (https://zeenews.india.com/bengali/entertainment/after-dharmajudha-and-bismillah-lokkhi-chhele-can-be-next-target-of-boycott-trend-in-tollywood_441044.html).
If we talk politics, logically, the instant film should not go down well even with the ruling dispensation of West Bengal, the TMC and it’s supporters because it cuts such a sorry figure of rural Bengal which is quite in contrast to the all round development or ‘unnayan’ of West Bengal, as claimed by the TMC during its 11 year reign of the state. The same holds true for the Left Front who ruled West Bengal for 34 years prior to TMC. It is noteworthy to mention that the BJP, which is known for it’s hindutva ideology, was never in power in West Bengal. Hence, in their zeal to paint Hindus in negative light, the Left-inclined filmmakers seem to have scored a self-goal of sorts.
Hindus believe that Ishwar is omnipresent and omnipotent. Hence they never discriminate against any religious community as they feel the presence of Ishwar in every being. Hence, their claim of Ishwar taking the help of an ordinary mortal for deliverance and quoting old Bengali folklores in support of the same, will really not hold them in good stead because what they are saying is known and believed by every Hindu. There is no denying the fact that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world which has existed in its original form over the ages, despite facing major challenges in the form of invasions by other communities and cultures and even now, through constant attacks on its practices and followers. Our ancient scriptures, texts and chronicles reveal the scientific genius of the inhabitants of the civilization of Bharat – Medicine and Surgery were the discoveries of ancient India, of Sushruta and Charaka. Hence, the attempt by agenda driven leftist film makers to put down the Sanatanis as inferior to some other civilizations, which came into existence much later, would not hold ground.
Most Bengalis are not aware of the philanthropic activities of the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Ekal Vidyalays , affiliated to the RSS, that have worked wonders in upliftment of the rural masses, particularly the tribal community. They have helped in imparting quality education to them so that they can make an attempt to be at par with the urban populace. The RSS has also helped in empowering the rural folk, specifically the women in earning a living by engaging in small businesses. The emphasis on cooperative societies and self-help groups by both the Central and State Govts have also helped immensely in improving the lot of the villagers. Hence, the question of dark practices in the name of religion by the members of the Sanatani community doesnot arise, leave alone being relevant till now. Even if the liberals were made aware of the philanthropic activities of the above institutions, it is doubtful whether they would choose to partner them in their noble ventures because, as we have often seen, these liberals have always used the poverty and lack of education amongst the poor as their tool to portray a specific community and are country in general, in a negative manner. It has never been their desire to improve their lot or even to see them come at par with their lot. The same tendency became all the more evident with their sneering attitude when they realized that a lady from a humble, tribal background has risen to the position of the President of our country. In fact, the instant film was also an attempt to establish the overbearing superiority of the urban elite over the rural masses – that the rural folk would ultimately have to depend on the city folk to rid them of their penury.
It goes without saying that in the battle of civilization between leftism and nationalism, where narrative is a potent weapon, it is imperative that the nationalists come up with their side of the story & tell their own tale. That is the best way to counter such propaganda rather than boycott calls which ultimately helps these leftist liberals play the victim. One needs to remember the old saying that ‘Till the Lion is able to write its own story, every tale would glorify the hunter.
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