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Bad Outcome

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Uttarakhand is positioning itself as film-shooting destination and it can do without any controversies that could put off Bollywood from selecting its undoubtedly beautiful locations. However, the soon to be released movie, ‘Kedarnath’, has already put a spanner in the works. It has obtained a certificate from the CBFC, which ordinarily is good enough to permit its screening anywhere in the country. Unfortunately for the Uttarakhand Government, it has content that the people of the state could find extremely distasteful. The free-speech wallahs, of course, claim the right to offend and also to cross many lines for the sake of creativity, but they do not have to stand for elections. When people vote, they take out their felt grievances on the politicians they hold responsible.
Ordinarily, one would expect that a movie made on the Kedarnath natural disaster of 2013 would be a dramatic enactment of people’s suffering, the tragic impact on the lives of many innocents, as well as the possible causes why it took place. It would be about the heroism of the security forces and local populace, whose rescue efforts prevented thousands of other casualties. Such a movie would, of course, require considerable research and high quality script writing, as well as brilliant direction. But, Bollywood has an easy way out – it merely transposes the same old boy meets girl formula on to the new template and degrades the potential to the level of vulgar. It does not fail, however, to market itself by connecting itself to the divine, and the disaster that occurred.
Not only does it not undertake a scientific and social analysis of why the disaster may have occurred – it actually propagates a notion that ‘pralay’ occurred because a Hindu family refused to get their daughter married off to a Muslim. This crosses into the realm of the irrational and preposterous – propagating a line that a vengeful God visits his wrath on entire communities for the failings of individuals. This is very much a narrative of certain belief systems, but it is stupid and brainwashed to inflict it where it does not exist.
Uttarakhand is encouraging film-making in the expectation that it will project a positive image of the state and encourage tourism. It is natural, therefore, for the state government to be concerned about the reaction among the people, as it could affect support for its policy. People might begin opposing film-makers, particularly if they wish to shoot in religious locations. That would be a terrible outcome of what was a forward looking policy. A ‘high-powered’ committee has been formed to look into the issue, but what options can it offer? Either way, it will result in bad publicity.