Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Unpalatable cocktail

The other day a song caught my attention. No it wasn't because of its exceptional music but because I felt the lyrics and tune were at odds. The lines were something like Tumhi ho bandhu sakha tumhi ho / every time every minute all the day / tumhi ho bandhu sakha tumhi.....
I almost believed it was a modern rendition of a traditional Sanskrit shlok (twamev mata cha pita twamev) until I was told that it is a song from the film Cocktail which is a smashing hit with the new generation. I should have been happy that at last the metallic hard sounds (some prefer to call it music though) have been replaced with our very own desi lyrics set to the tune of a bhajan which the younger generation seem to have taken to but I could not stifle a deep sigh. It perturbed me too.
Why the trivialisation of such intense soulful lyrics of a bhajan?
I do not know in what context it has been used in the film but from whatever little I have heard it is clear that it is anything but spiritual. It was to say the least – quite an unpalatable cocktail.
I remember a controversy that media wrote about several years ago. A top fashion designer of our country had used the national flag in her couture at a fashion show. There were angry protests as at that time she had committed a punishable offence which came under the purview of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971. Later, of course the law changed and was relaxed to some extent.
But even then Mandira Bedi once sporting a sari on television during the World Cup with a national flag motif drew criticism. Our little master Sachin Tendulkar also drew flak once when he cut a cake that was shaped in the form of our national flag.
My point is why are we touchy about some things and why do we put up with others even though they affront people's faith and sensibilities? Where is the line that can be drawn as to what can or cannot be used for public consumption? More so if it is for commercial purpose?
I have nothing against the usage of religious words in films. There have been several memorable films where bhajans have been used or even names of films with religious connotations. A classic example I can think of is – Dev Anand's Hare Rama Hare Krishna where these words were used in a song based on Western composition. What a superb combination of R D Barman and our very own Usha di – a song that made her famous overnight.
More recently, I remember a young budding hero in Bengali films disco dancing to “Bhojo Gourango” that provoked a group of Vaishnavites to go to court to have this song banned. Well after all this is indeed a matter of taste and choice. But then in the name of freedom of expression does anything get allowed to be used indiscriminately in any manner? Can guidelines be issued for these matters without being a Taliban watchdog?
According to a latest report a figure of Goddess Kali has been used inappropriately in a gaming site in USA which has evoked strong reaction not only from the Hindus but from different religious sects including Jews, Buddhists and even Roman Catholics. The point I am trying to make is when penning a song, drawing a picture, or creating anything that is meant for public domain one needs to be a little more sensitive.
ess bee

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