Published on April 9th, 2015 | by Sandeep Patil5
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!
— palki sharma (@palkisu) April 7, 2015
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.