Published on April 9th, 2015 | by Sandeep Patil


Missing the (Maharashtra) point

When I write something regarding my home state Maharashtra, I write in Marathi. This time however I must write it in English since it is primarily for those who aren’t well versed with Maharashtra (That does not necessarily mean non-natives).

Recently Maharashtra Government sent the 15 years old Anti Cow Slaughter Bill for presidential approval and invited outrage. The outrage was somewhat of nature, how the poor citizens of the forsaken state are being denied their fundamental right to kill cows to choose their own food. But these days outrage comes quite cheap; a suspicion of violation of some fundamental right somewhere suffices. And in the new world order we are not yet quite sure what precisely comprises a fundamental right, so anything from Arundhati Roy to Deepika Padukone suffices as well.

As if this was not enough, the Maharashtra Government took the next fascist step, when it decided that it was obligatory for all multiplexes to show one Marathi movie during prime time. The already beef starving state was now deprived of the healthy entertainment nutrition from the likes of Sonakshi, Sonam, Shahid, Katerina, Arjun etc. The citizens were now to be at the mercy of some lousy Marathi movies.. those film festival types, full of losers from Theater who think acting is everything! Once again the some fundamental right was violated in some form. Outrage was imminent… and our netizens obliged!

The outrage thus pouring from all directions, was however missing from one place in particular – the home state of Maharashtra itself. While #beefban was trending nationally on twitter almost a day, the vernacular newspapers hardly gave much importance to the topic. Nor were any significant processions, rallys, or bandh in state in this regard. The opinion pieces also spoke little about the plight of the butcher community and focused on the page-3 topics like cosmopolitan culture in Mumbai (Like this). And again Mumbai alone is not Maharashtra! Thus we come at our first paradox. The state government has taken a step, the people of the state seem okay with it … and Social Media is fuming in outrage!

Secondly before giving opinion or outraging, it is very important to know the ground reality. What one may perceive from Social Media can be far different how it actual looks like. (Facebook profile pics are the best examples!) The cultural, geographical or social conditions vary with regions. A significant issue in one part of India, could be almost a non-issue in other part. For example, the vegetarianism is much prevalent in Western India (North-Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc.) So the move like Cow-slaughter-ban can be more welcome there than in regions which have large non-vegetarian population.

Speaking about the other issue about Marathi Films,  the Marathi film Industry faces a unique competition that no other regional film industry faces –  it’s competitor “Bollywood” functions from the very heartland, Mumbai. Thus the best resources from the region – actors, directors, writers – are easily drifted to Hindi Movies. A producer who wants to put in some hefty budget would rather make a Film in Hindi than Marathi, since for the same investment he can cover much broader audience! Marathi Film Industry doesn’t have advantage of the South Indian Industries, that it’s audience doesn’t understand Hindi and so has no choice but to watch the regional movies. The regional Cinema has primarily flourished where the common populace doesn’t understand Hindi. This hugely narrows down the margin for the topics that can be exclusively made in Marathi. (On the positive note, though lesser movies are made they are made with relatively more diligence and sincerity, a lot many end up with critical acclaim if nothing else) The Bollywood – with it’s huge money power and underworld links – plays the big brother here. Those who are outraging against the reservations of Marathi cinema may not know that just a year ago a successfully running Marathi movie “Duniyadari” was made to be pulled off from the prime-time slot so that some SRK movie gets the slot.

Thus the case of Marathi Cinema should be first understood in it’s right context. A state that needs to make reservation for it’s own native language should be more a topic of empathy and compassion than criticism and outrage!

Those who participate in Social Media – like twitter in particular – would do well to remember that most people who participate here come from the Urban pockets. Thus Mumbai becomes Maharashtra, Bangalore becomes Karnataka, Delhi becomes North and so on. But it is not necessary that the opinions of those few really represent the entire region. Twitter itself has become a community over years. Like every evolving community, Twitter-verse has developed it’s own core concepts, terms, rules and jargon – be it Freedom of Expression, Right to XYZ, Online Criticism (or trolling) etc. They may be fine within the social media sphere, but may not always carry the same importance outside. It may be a good idea to cross check them once a while with the real India, which is vastly diverse in itself.




About the Author

God knows why but I have too many interests. So chances are that you and me have something in common. Let’s see… Patanjali? Chanakya? Romans? Vijaynagar? Shivaji? Renaissance? Vivekanand? Agatha Christie? Tagore? Hitchcock? S.D.Burman? Cary Grant? Satyajit Ray? Grace Kelly? Brucia la terra? Suchitra Sen? Roman Holiday? Vasantaro Deshpande? Robert de Niro? Malguena? Kishore Kumar? Osho? Hotel California? Smita Patil? Erich von Daniken? Pu La? GA? Andaz Apna Apna? Asha Bhosale? PVN Rao? … Watch this space, sooner or later you will something on similar topic

5 Responses to Missing the (Maharashtra) point

  1. I endorse the arguments of Mr Patil. Every region and community has a right to self preservation and its rather mischievous an argument, to deny them the right in the name of selective and lopsided interpretation of Secularism and democracy. I have been in Pune for the last five years, and have witnessed that every linguistic and religious community have their social network to celebrate and preserve their cultural ethos.At the same time I strongly believe that it should also be inclusive which acknowledges the local customs and respect their sentiments. I am also equally surprised that ‘intellectuals’, ‘commentators’ and ‘activists’ putting up in the air conditioned studios of Dilli, never found anything wrong when prime time slots alloted for Tamils films in Tamilnadu, Bengali films in West Bengal or for Hindi films in Hindi heartland.

  2. Archana Kapoor says:

    Very well articulated Sandeep! While your thoughts do not resonate with the general Maharashtra crows (read: Mumbai), people like me who are north indians but were born and brought up in Mumbai, will surely agree with you. It’s a pity what the likes of Shobha De resort to, without a completing understanding of what is being done. While it may come across as belligerent, perhaps there are times when such steps need to be taken. And I do hope people stop treating Mumbai as Maharashtra, Delhi as North India etc…
    Happy to have come across this write-up!
    Cheers, Archana

    • Thank you very much Archana. It was a coincidence, that I came across the piece about Gen V K Singh on around same time. I liked it and when I returned to my page I found comment by you – kind of reciprocating my feeling “happy to have come across …”

  3. I think a Govt. shouldn’t do anything that harm the interest of a particular community. And, the thing is, the more the word #ban is used, the more people have a tendency to violate it.
    But, I agree with your points, there is a huge difference between entire Maharashtra and Mumbai…entire West Bengal and Kolkata…

    • True about the #ban thing. There are already many “bans” existing, and almost everything banned is available at a higher price. If government cannot actually impose the ban, then it’s just a populist measure.

      Having said that, I am still not quite sure about the nitty gritties of the bill – most resources in media focused on the sensational part of the news. I still have a feeling that the bill takes care of the freedom of those who want to consume beef – but I am not sure.

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