The story thus far: Buddha In A Traffic Jam is an upcoming film directed by Vivek Agnihotri. Details here.
Agnihotri wanted it screened at JNU. Apparently permission “was refused” — at least, that is the story that circulated on social media, with suitable commentary on how JNU, which has set itself up as a bastion of free speech, is actually intolerant of divergent opinions.
A friend told me of this on my Twitter stream. While I have no contacts with anyone at JNU, I asked her to find out who had been approached, and who had denied permission, so someone could follow up.
Agnihotri’s go-between, one Mr Ravinder Randhawa of JNU, responded on his Facebook page. It is quoted below in full:
Sowmya Rao, who was last in the headlines when she helped coordinate online efforts to help bring relief to the victims of Chennai’s floods, had a question up on her Twitter stream yesterday that is worth some thought:
Seems like a relatively minor thing to get fussed about, no? Consider this story, of the passage of the Aadhaar bill — a bill both Narendra Modi and Arun Jaitley had opposed not so long ago, and still replete with serious privacy concerns — in Parliament yesterday.
And in that story, consider this factoid:
This map should scare the crap out of all of us. As should this story. As should the fact that successive governments have shown no inclination to take this issue seriously, and to search for solutions. Instead, we all stumble along, taking short term decisions with no thought of long term consequences, then undoing those decisions when reality bites (Remember this other story of Coca Cola being asked to shut three plants down because, groundwater?), and moving on to make equally wrong decisions someplace else.
This is CPM leader Pinnarayi Vijayan’s response to the story of the brutal murder of an RSS worker in full view of school children.
See what I mean when I said I don’t give a flying fuck anymore?
This, now, offered without comment (Apologies for the formatting, it’s how it came to me):
Samar Halarnkar uses a Mumbai booze party — and the smashed bottles in its wake — to make larger points about the systematic subversion of the legal machinery. This is his set-up:
The bottle-smashing is required by the excise department, to whom it proves that as much liquor as the bottles contained was actually consumed on the premises. The smashing is preceded by a mess of paperwork and inspection. All this to throw a party. It also applies to domestic parties. It begins with visits to the excise office – there are many, you must find the right one for your area, and no online applications please – to get a liquor permit. You can then expect a visit from excise officials, who warn of prosecution risk, if you serve that scotch you carried through duty free. You will then get a list of neighbourhood liquor shops – only they can sell you the booze for the party. You get a little booklet, in which you enter the date of party and names of guests. You might get another visit during your party, to ensure you are in compliance of all requirements. At the end of it they will come, of course, to count bottles – in homes; in hotels, they smash.
The details follow the pattern — condemn, defame, amplify it all, on the flimsiest of threads, and cloak it all under the shroud of patriotism.
The sting, and the irony, is at the very end of this news report:
Signed by Naseeruddin Shah, Sharmila Tagore and Shubha Mudgal amongst others, the petition calls upon the Press Council of India and the Broadcast Association “to take note of this criminality and initiate necessary action against the channel”.
What can you do but laugh?