Just when we think that the wounds are healed and its time to forget and move forward, it comes back to stir up emotions which are needless. This time it was a programme on Toronto’s City TV about the plight of Hindu widows in vrindaban with an inspirational reference to Deepa Mehta and her movie water.
Making a career on controversial subjects is one sure way to success. Dan Brown did it with the Davinci Code, Salman Rushdie did it with the satanic verses and and Ms.Deepa Mehta is no exception. Her earlier movies like Earth and Fire were good but she remained just another director. Earth was a very patriotic movie and was wonderfully picturized but there was no way it could have made her successful in the western world because it criticized the British rule in India. So she moved to subjects which are controversial and pro-western. Her next movie Fire tried to bring out into the open the “hidden” truths and it was critized in a conservative Hindu society which prides on values and morality. But these movies though bold and controversial did not cause deep wounds.
But the concept of the movie water was fundamentally different. It smudged the image of Hindus world wide. Many a westerner who after watching the movie has felt that this is happening in India now. It created a false image which though historically true is not relevant in an India which is straining its nerve to progress and to earn a name for itself in the International community of Nations.
This para is for the activist right wing conservative western writer who revels in anything anti-Hindu. The origin of child marriage and widow hood in India has its roots in the Islamic invasion of India, where young unmarried women were whisked away by the barbaric and amorous hordes of Muslims. So early marriage was a solution. But with early marriage also came early widowhood due to various reasons like wars, malnutrition. Handling widow hood was a trauma for the Hindu society because first it pricked into the ego of a Hindu man as it highlighted his failure as a fighter. He was not successful in fighting off the Islamic invaders. And in a conservative society where re-marriages was a taboo, this widow homes were a simply a method to sweep the problem under the carpet. Widowhood and its trauma is a painful underbelly of Hinduism both for its women and its men. The sexual needs of a Hindu widow are a topic of great sexual curiosity and interest to most Indo-Christians and anti-Hindus.This is a sensitive matter and if the few pro-active western writers pride themselves on principles of civility, then they would be doing a favour if they respect Hindu sensitivity. Presently they are bludgeoning muslims for the latter’s attack on west, and wonder why they are not sensitive to what Hindus must have gone through under a thousand years of Islamic rule.India’s Hindu leaders saw the problem and there were many initiatives were taken to address the problem and issues like child marriage, has dwindled to non existence in mainstream India today.
Ms Mehta’s movie water has opened all the layers of the wound not just to the Hindu community but bared it for the world. The Oscars nomination was a religio- political move.Water reaching oscars is a confirmation of the anti Hindu agenda of her backers. Bollywood did not give out an award to the Da vince film team then why not hollywood show the same sensitivity to an Indian subject.Why should it go out of its way to back Ms.Mehta by giving her an nomination. Hollywood has always taken sides and has fought America’s wars on the screen. Be it cold wars, religious wars, wars between countries or simply wars which emphasize western greatness. Its creative team ironically also authors scripts which can create and guide future conflicts.
For sheer directorial excellence Shekar kapoor deserves the oscar for Queen Elizabeth. The movies made by other western based Indians like Mira Nair, Gurinder Chadha Nagesh Kukunoor, M. Night Shyamalan’s, have a certain positiviness and charm in them which is badly missing in Deepa Mehta movies. In her movies and interviews one can notice that she is seen trying very hard to put herself above these other talented directors. It appears water reached the academy only to encourage the anti Hindu flavour.She may have won the oscar nomination but not the hearts of movie goers. Its the opposite for other talented directors of Indian origin.
Some pro-right western writers have had this strange obsession to prove to them-selves that they have a better social structure and its society is almost flawless. For people who think so, movies like Water help to massage their egos and act like a soothing balm which can mask the inadequacies of their society. And there is no dearth of anti-Hindu organizations from India. Her movie was a common meeting ground for these forces.
She for her part played the victim so intelligently. One needs to read a transcript of all her interviews to Canadian newspapers. At one stage she said that her script was approved by the government and blamed the Indian government for back tracking on its approval. We all know that script was rejected when the government changed. Governments world wide change policies when there is a change of rulers. It was no exception in India. And the west was not aware of these inner facts. She used it to her advantage.
Her next steps sounded as if she was pitting of Christian’s against Hindu’s.She used Christian actors John Abraham and Lisa Ray to portray Hindu characters while the subject of film had an Anti-Hindu theme. It is also ironic that she used Mahatma Gandhi in her film as a prop to give good PR value for her film. We need to acknowledge that it was a “clever” script.
She has inspired many anti Hindu writers now. Her brother Mr Mehta is following up with a documentary movie on the same subject titled, ” the forgotten women”. And then we have a young writer by Padma Viswanathan who has written a book called, “Toss the lemon” which talks about Brahmin widowhood. The damage Ms Mehta did is long lasting. Time and again many a “spirited” western writer writes an article about Hindu widow hood. The newspaper globe and mail wrote one in the recent past. There a multitude of genuine problems which India is facing and Ms Mehta would never make a movie on any of them as neither would they make commercial sense nor would they attract the anti-Hindu forces. Controversy sells and she is using it to her advantage. Hinduism is a soft target and she got away with it.
She has joined the league of the hundreds of individuals / organizations whose survival and growth hinges on one factor,”Anti-Hinduism” There were hardly any protests in Canada though Toronto has a sizable Hindu population.In other words Hindus swept this also under the now bulging carpet called as tolerance.
Ms Mehta is a clever film maker. While she has annoyed Hindus she made lot of friends in the west. She is intelligent enough to know that not until water was made she had little standing in international film circuits as a director. Anti-Hindu forces on Earth have helped her to become a celebrity. If she is now getting Hollywood scripts its because a topic from Hindusim has helped her. She owes her success to Hinduism. If she is a sensitive director as she claims to be, she needs to make a film which shows Hindusim in good light. She is currently making a pro-sikh film.
Time magzine asked Mr Vladimir Putin why its famous chess player Garry Kasporov was arrested Putin’s reply was on these lines “If he is talking to work up the audience of the west, then it tells you something …….”
Deepa Mehta.. update!
Toronto…Feb 20th, 2010
At a recent event to promote the movie which she co-scripted (Cooking with Stella) and made by her brother there was this open house after screening of the movie. Ms.Deepa Mehta was taking questions from the audience.
One of the first person from the audience was this self respecting Hindu from Guyana. He gave a brief intro about how his ancestors were uprooted to Guyana by the British. He was talking about some 150 years back. He then asked Ms.Deepa this question, ” Why do your movies portray India in a negative light? Isint there anything good about India at all? ” Her reply was long. In our analysis she looked torn between two worlds. She was carrying a deep sense of hurt that India hasn’t warmed up to her. It was obvious that she has a penchant for raw truth, and a wonderful sense of film making that can capture what she decides to capture. And at the same time her drive to succeed in the western film world is making her show things which the west prefers. Showing developing and under-developed countries in poor light. Her response was sugar coated but there was atleast one moment where she cut off this gentleman quite rudely.
That was followed by another lady who asked a similiar query. Ms.Deepa Mehta seemed wilting but was fighting back against these “attacks” So we take back our words where we said there were hardly any protests against Ms.Deepa Mehta in Canada. The fundamental question still remains, “Is she aware that she has hurt Hindus and is she willing to do something about it?”
Ms.Mehta seemed to be missing the love and affection of people but her film making & marketing faculties seem still sharp.At moments of the open house there was almost a sense of compassion for her misplaced grit.We wish she ends her career by making a movie which shows Hindusim in good light. Are we being naive?