A friend of ours wrote a play called Maruti and Champagne. It is genuinely funny and quite exciting. It is not at all nasty or provocative. Its humour is ‘nirvish’ (that is, not malicious, to use a word rather popular in the language of the newspaper reviews in the language of the marathas). No body would have thought that a comic play like that would ever invite anybody’s wrath.But it did. There is a group called Patit Pawan Sanghatana (PPS). It is one of the five Hindutva-oriented organisations in Maharashtra, the other four being the RSS, the Samarasata Manch, the VHP, and of course the Shiv Sena….It stormed the little theatre where the show was being staged and forced it to close down.
…But the story does not quite end here. The silence that the national press and media observed was deafening. All the so-called local “news lines” faithfully observed a mystifying silence.
In contrast Arundhati Roy’s turning down the Akademi award made greater news. All papers noted it. And look at the irony of the Booker prize winning novelist’s position. When small and defenceless groups are being victimised by non-governmental semi-fascist groups, the “Booker lady” is angry with the government. She does not see who is threatening whom and how. The fact of the matter is that in our country it is less the government and more the semi-fascist groups, which are threatening the cultural rights of the people. To go on attacking the government in such a situation is a classic case of what is known in Sanskrit as ‘Sarpa Rajju Nyaya’ (mistaking a rope for a snake).
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