Aug 16, 2010

Cosmopolitan? Really?

I was watching the news yesterday, and I got to know that one of the so-called 'Maratha political parties' was demanding that radio stations play Marathi music, and multiplexes show Marathi films.

Let me make it clear at the outset that I have nothing against that, or the concept or against any sect, religion or region. But I do have an opinion as everyone does, and I do have the right to express it, just like the parties and the people do.

Many languages are dying, and many cultures are becoming influenced by Western ideals. I agree. I also agree that Indian culture deserves to be preserved. But is it our culture to fight, break things, create a riot and force people to believe what you believe? I may not have read many religious texts, but I do know for sure that none of them promote violence, abusive behaviour and forceful submission at any cost. Indian values have always been about peace, unity and integrity and that does not change with state or region or language. That is also why Indians are known the world over for their hospitality, their warmth and their welcoming behaviour. So when we talk about preserving our culture in a way that is actually against our culture, it's quite ironic right?

Now moving to regionalism. I talk about Maharashtra because I have been a Bombayite (yes I say Bombay!) all my life. This is the place I am familiar with, and relate to. And no matter what the name is, I know it as Bombay, I love it as Bombay. Calling it Mumbai does not make it closer to my heart, and calling it Bombay does not make it feel alien and Anglicised.

So back to the topic. Marathi films and music. I like Marathi films, though I don't understand them entirely. But what I do get, I like. I especially like Marathi theatre. And of course, staying in this city, you can't stay away from its music. But no one is going to like it if they are forced to hear it. Art has it's beauty and people should be allowed to appreciate it at will. Thrusting it in their faces will not make them open to it. On the other hand, it may have just the opposite effect.

Bombay is a cosmopolitan city. And it is what it is because of people of all communities. To say that only Maharashtrians, or Gujaratis or South Indians are the core of the city, or that North Indians or East Indians are not welcome would be wrong. Everyone has made the city and everyone should be respected.

Yes, radio should have regional music. But instead of forcing private stations, why don't people who believe in the cause start one themselves? Why don't the political parties start an NGO that promotes the regional arts, from films to music to the language?

I am a Bombayite by heart, or Mumbaiyya by name. I have lived here all my life, and earned the right to be called that. And as a citizen, I have the right to choose what I want to hear or not, what I want to see and what I want to appreciate. No furniture breaking, bandh proclaiming, slogan shouting, flag waving party can take that away from me. Tell me peacefully and I will think about whether I want to support you. Force it on me and I will make sure I never vote for you, and of course neither do my friends and family.

Simple logic right?


abhinav said...

I guess the most important question is, is culture a dynamic or a static phenomenon?
How do you preserve culture? If given an option, which era's culture, Ramayana age, Mahabharata age or 18th century, would you want to go back to?
I guess change is a part of a natural evolution process, and no one can stop it.

The ones who harp about preserving culture are just trying to look for some immediate publicity.

Haem said...

I agree! Culture is never tangible, and you can't make a rule book out of it. It is ever-changing and ever-adapting. And that is why it is so enchanting too.

whirlwind said...

The debate always remains of what is considered art, which is the basis of what is acceptable and what is not, which is my extremely convoluted way of saying that tolerance is required, and the key. And you are right Haem, it is not the sentiment that is wrong here, it is the methods they use to employ to put that across.We hope that amidst all this talk of culture preservation, those that are creating the ruckus get some themselves.