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Mall Road

Bus Addey, Maal Rode, Camp, Madal Toun, Ajadpur, Shalimaar...

Of sentiments and bombs: Jo Bole So Nihal!

A still from Jo Bole So Nihal. According to a PTI report, "It has been alleged that there were some semi-nude scenes in the film, which hurt the religious sentiments of many people, as the title of the film is considered a sacred chant by the followers of the Sikh religion."

I quote here from my very first posting on this blog, which was about free speech and religion:

Ms. Karkaria's article is called He's hot, he is Indian Idol No 1. In three hundred words full of bad pun, she tries to fuse religion with contemporary popular culture, and justifies it like this:

Hinduism's original persona of “rinam kritva ghritam pivet” - loosely translated as 'Njoy!' - had for long been suppressed by our pretensions of being an otherworldly, spiritual people who abjured the materialist high rise for the moral high ground.

It cost us dearly on several counts, from delaying the economic miracle to delaying AIDS control. But we've woken up and not only smelled the coffee, but learnt to make a Frappuccino.

Trivial? May be. Offensive? You must be joking. But I am an atheist, how would I know? A religious Hindu may find it offensive.

In that case, should we care?

If Bachi really feels that way, why should she not write it?

May be it doesn't work that way. Since people tend to kill and get killed over religion, must we provoke them?

The issue of free speech intersecting with "religious sentiments" is a really complex one. The day I resolve it in my head, I will have achieved salvation.

And you know what happened a few hours ago? Two up-market cinema halls in Delhi (one of which is ironically called 'Liberty') were "rocked" (as a PTI report puts it) by bomb explosions.

And guess what? I was wandering around Delhi today, bus stop to bus stop, Mall Road to Daryaganj, Jama Masjid to Patel Nagar. I even considered going for a movie called Jo Bole So Nihal. In a cinema called Satyam. Evening show. Six to nine.

Folks called up from a distance of over 500 kms to find out if I was alive. I was. Buying music in Kamla Nagar.

Did you see the news?

No, why, what happened?

Bomb blasts in Delhi cinemas.

Okay, let me reach home, I'll check out.

As I switched to Google news, my heart sank. The two cinemas were showing Jo Bole So Nihal, which has been in the news for 'hurting' Sikh sentiments. Eight dead so far.

Delhi. 1984. I was six months old when they shot "Mrs." Indira Gandhi. She had hurt their sentiments. This in turn hurt Caangressi sentiments and Caangressis went about butchering every Sikh they could find. Even in Lucknow, a stone's throw from Ayodhya, where there hasn't ever been a single Hindu-Muslim riot.

Sentiments. Religious sentiments. Defending the faith. Jo Bole So Nihal!

As I said, I am an atheist. How would I know? And I haven't seen the movie. Too many people will now watch three hours of crap just to see if anyone's sentiments are hurt.

But do I have sentiments and are they ever hurt enough by a movie to kill those watching it?

The next time your sentiments are hurt enough to throw a few bombs around, let me know where you are doing it. Not because I want to write a news report or a blog posting. But because I want to see if you can kill me.

And if I survive by chance, you will have hurt more than just my sentiments, and I would need your help with making the bombs.

Monday update: One eyewitness had told a news channel that he had himself pulled out 7 bodies, and the police had reported another death. But it turns out the 7 he pulled out weren't dead. So the consensus is one dead and 50 injured.

Nay, the city isn't calm yet. Another blast, this one in north-east Delhi. 'One hurt.' The bomb was hidden in a bag. A Reuters report says, "During the height of the Sikh separatist campaign (in the 1980's), militants regularly bombed buses and markets in northern India, especially in Delhi and Punjab. They often planted bombs in radios and lunch boxes, killing and wounding many people."

There's no proof that this morning's blast in Nand Nagri is related to last night's cinema blasts. But the police have arrested a Lasker-e-Toiba militant, or someone who they claim to be an LeT militant. Last the the BJP in its attempt to be politically correct to Sikhs, had said that the Pakistani intelligence agencies were responsible for the blasts. Great job ladies and gentlemen, you should be in the CBI.

Mid-Day reports that some cinemas in Mumbai have withdrawn the film, but most have courageously decided the show must go on. Talking about courage,
While Sunny Deol was not available for comment, Rajiv Malhotra of VR Entertainers, distributors of the film, said that they have distributed the film at the behest of Sunny Deol and only he can take a decision on whether to halt proceedings.
IANS reports that Deol has been provided with security at his Juhu residence. Mr Deol, do you realise your lack of immediate response at this moment makes you anything but a hero in real life?

The Indian Express reports that the blast in Satyam was inside the ladies toilet, and it injured two children amongst others. How have Delhi's cinemagoing women hurt the Sikh community?

Chennai, Pune, Indore and other cities have also suspended the screening of the film. For the moment it's looking like an all India censorship of the film.

Its distributor in the "northern territory", a liquor baron named Ponty Chadha, says he's withdrawing the film from the entire "northern territory" and not just Punjab and aryana.

And just in case you didn't know, Jo Bole So Nihal translates as 'Blessed is the one who says God is eternal!'

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-- Blogger shaun, 5/23/2005 02:33:00 am

There seems to be some confusion about how many are dead. One news source says 7, another says eight, but most say one. Am going off to sleep and will wait for the newspaper in the morning.    

-- Blogger livinghigh, 5/23/2005 11:55:00 am

sleep is a good idea. ;-)
hey, i like de template... never been to mall road side, though. sigh... ring rd brings back memories, though!    

-- Blogger Debalina Das, 5/23/2005 07:50:00 pm

I strongly believe that no movie can hurt a community so much that you get the right to mass kill the movie goers.
It must have been sheer coincidence or the fact that most of the Delhi public would be Sikh or punjabi and they must have gone for the movie and the attackers must have got enough people to harm, enough people to scare them for life.
Perhaps, the movie title should have been more like this :
'Jo bole so nihal' -- The blessed one !

Lolz..then there wouldn't have been so chaos with one simple movie title. None ever got problem movie titles like ' pyaasi jawani' etc .. but anything as simple as this !

I really liked your post !

When I was about 1and half yr old, the 'Indira Gandhi' incident happened, what I know from my parent's mouth is that they burnt down the movie hall near our house in Janakpuri, they would blast the LPG tanks..and we were sheltering our Sikh neighbor.

A normal person will not start bombing or mass killing. Must have been some kind of terrorist group or small gang who must have threatened those hall's owners for some money !
Who knows ?    

-- Blogger Harneet, 5/23/2005 10:50:00 pm

"but do I have sentiments and are they ever hurt enough by a movie to kill those watching it?"
"How have Delhi's cinemagoing women hurt the Sikh community?"
now what was that?
i came here, btw, to let you know that i am putting up the BBM link on the blog and to tell you that it might be a good idea to drop a line on the mailing list too..    

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