Music composer AR Rahman was asked for his comments on the killing of journalist Gauri Lankesh. Three things happened in quick succession, and they are a window to our times:
#1. Speaking in the moment and from the heart, without pause to consider consequences, Rahman said: “I am so sad about this. These kind( s) of things don’t happen in India. This is not my India. I want India to be progressive and kind.”
#2. That unobjectionable statement, in which Rahman accused no individual, no party, no political grouping, drew a storm of protest from the right wing. Pause a moment to ask yourself this: Why, when no one was blamed, did those on the right try the cap on for size, and feel the need to go after the composer with hate-ridden vitriol?
#3. A day later, Rahman backtracked. He did not know, he reportedly said, that his words would create a storm on social media. He paid a tribute to the government of the day. And when he was asked specifically if artists should engage with politics, Rahman said:
“We all should just shut up and keep quiet.”