Mr Kaushik Mukherjee, a noted Kolkata based film director who now calls himself “Q”, has made a film currently exhibited in a Berlin film festival. According to a national daily newspaper the film is being widely discussed in Berlin. The title of the film is a crude Hindustani expletive, unmentionable in any civilized society, denoting a homosexual. Reportedly the film itself is distinguished by unrelenting footage of explicit sex. Perhaps the fact that European audiences are thrilled by the film may have tickled the vanity of the director and others associated with the film. Clearly, according to some the making of the film proves that India has arrived as a developed society. India now has demonstrated that it can be crude, obscene and perverse, qualities no doubt which denote liberation from old world, obsolete prudery.
This scribe has always consciously tried to avoid being a prude. Be liberal! Live and let live! One lives by these axioms. But now one does not mind being labeled a prude if that is what outright opposition to exhibiting the film in India would entail. The film has not yet been released in India . One is confident that Mr Mukherjee is a talented film director dedicated to his art. Although it is unfortunate that the only inspiration he reportedly acknowledged from Satyajit Ray is that the greatest giant of cinema shot most of his early classics in black and white instead of colour. Recall the scene from a Ray film in which a groom alone in bed after the bridal night wonderingly holds a lady’s hairpin in his hand with happy recall. That scene conveyed a night of passion with consummate artistry more effectively than any pornography would.
The question to be faced in India is how much permissive culture inspired by western norms our society should accept in the garb of globalization. It is a fair and relevant question. The answer to it profoundly affects the direction in which our nation will evolve during the information era. The question is not related merely to Mr Mukherjee’s film. It arises from many facets of our public conduct prevalent today.
For instance, the national daily newspaper that reported the showing of the film in Berlin put the story on page one and uninhibitedly published the expletive title of the film. Is it all right to use explicit, abusive language among women and children who undoubtedly comprise part of the newspaper’s readership? Perhaps that is the current credo. If so, we need to drastically amend our laws of obscenity and stop punishing those guilty of lesser obscenity. But as long as the present laws prevail one can only resist the release of Mr Mukherjee’s film in India. One will do that even if one is out of step with modern India. One would rather be a prude than crude.