Thursday, May 18, 2006

Da Vinci Dilemma

Da Vinci Dilemma

Tom Hank’s movie Da Vinci has kicked up a row in India and its release on May 19, 2006 is doubtful. Interestingly, the Dan Brown’s Book didn’t create much controversy in India. There were some plagiarism charges elsewhere but that only brought in more publicity for the book and increased its sales.

Some Catholic groups in India and around the world are upset with the portrayal of Jesus Christ in the movie. Earlier, even Vatican had issued advised Christians to boycott the movie, but they since seem to have distanced themselves from the issue.

In India, Federal Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi first indicated Government intervention and later backed out and passed the buck back to the Censor Board.

Even though, I would like to see the movie see the day of light in India, I respect the dignified protest against the release of the movie. There is no bloodshed, no name calling in the name of religion. Just recently, there was a huge uproar over the some cartoons and most of muslim world was up in arms. Sadly, several people even lost their lives.

This is yet another occasion where the freedom of expression is in collision course with some group’s sensitivities. I am trobuled by the rise of ‘holy cows’ indicating decreasing tolerance level. It is becoming increasingly difficult to understand where the threshold lies. I wish we could all be more tolerant of divergent views and opinions.

Chennaites are all too familiar with these kinds of controversies. Kamal Hasan to Kushboo to Vaasanthi, they all have invited wrath of some group or the other. Even the Tamil movie titles have created huge controversies in Tamil Nadu.

But a significant reform announced by Tamil Nadu Government seems to have gone unnoticed at the local and the national level. Immediately after assuming power, Mr. Karunanidhi, has thrown open the archaka profession (limited to Brahmins till now) to all qualified Hindus. While, I support and welcome this move, I am surprised that no group has come out against this announcement at any level. This is a significant break from the age old Indian tradition and has far reaching consequence.

PS: Initial movie reviews Da Vinci are out and they are lukewarm at best.