Recently, in a tele-serial, Quantico, Priyanka Chopra playing the role of a FBI agent, identified a man as a Hindu terrorist who was out to sabotage a top level meet between and Indian and a Pakistani leader. The terrorist was out to cause a nuclear explosion in the US, and blame it on Pakistan. The role of FBI officer was essayed by Indian movie star, Priyanka Chopra. Ms. Chopra has a big fan following in India and beyond the shores of India. Many of her fans as well as common Indians expressed anger at the serial and role Ms. Chopra played in it.
Ms. Chopra had apologised for the hurt she has inadvertantly caused. So did the promoter of the show, American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC). Obvious question that emerge, include:
- In this day and age, does an artist have freedom to potray any role freely?
- Why can a hindu man not be shown a terrorist, when TV shows regularly a muslim man to be a terrorist?
I think one cannot deny artistic freedom while writing a scene. We have seen how the movie Padmavat was disrupted, in recent past, by people claiming to be representing Rajput pride. All said and done, Padmavat was released in India and made very good business. Unlike Padmavat, Quantico was shot in the US, and was meant primarily for the US audience. Ms. Priyanka Chopra need not have to worry about its business success. Most likely, Ms. Chopra apologised to protect her commercial interest in Indian film industry.
Idea behind potraying a hindu terrorist detonating a nuclear device on a foreign soil is more complex, if not controversial, for the following reasons:
Firstly, there is no argument that a hindu can resort to violence and there is no reason why he cannot be a terrorist. India has seen violent incidences. There are indigenous terrorist groups in India. Many groups have hindu members in leadership position. Most of these groups, however, fight against Indian establishment. An idea of Hindu / saffron terror was floated by a political party. Such Hindu terror group was implicated in Mecca Masjid blast and Samjhauta Express blast. However, US intelligence has indicated hand of radical islamic group in Samjhauta Express blast. All people arrested as Hindu terrorists were released by court of law after prolonged incarceration. There is no evidence in the history of independent India, where an Indian had crossed into a foreign country with explicit intent to damage life and property. Though possibility of a hindu terrorist cannot be ruled out, at this time there is no realistic basis to paint such a picture.
As my second argument, I find the idea of India implicating Pakistan in a terror plot is absurd. India and Pakistan were created on the basis that hindus and muslims do not get along with each other. Subsequently, India has remained a hindu majority country and Pakistan became a muslim majority country. Since its creation, Pakistan has attacked India in 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. India has also suffered numerous terrorist attacks on her soil, which were carried out by extremists based in Pakistani territory. In this background, depicting a hindu man to be a terrorist and Pakistan to be potential victim is ludicrous.
My third argument is use of rudraksh rosary bead to identify a terrorist as hindu. Rudraksh rosary is not a sacred symbol of hindus alone. Buddhists also use it. Infact, anyone in the world can carry a rudraksh. In this background it is simplistic, if not outright silly, to identify a man to be hindu, just because he had a rudraksh on him. A muslim man can also carry a rudraksh, to pass the blame of nuclear explosion onto India. A terrorist, who has enough hate on his mind to detonate a nuclear device, will he be so scrupulous about symbol of any religion?
Finally, coming back to the issue of exploding a nuclear device, one has to understand that one needs to have high level complicity at government level to get access to nuclear material. Of different nuclear capable countries, India has been one of the most responsible country when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation. The same cannot be said about Pakistan. Yet, a picture is being painted for viewers of the show that it is India that is propagating nucelar terrorism.