Sunday, June 30, 2013

Appeal to stop the telecast of serial "Jodha Akbhar" on communal grounds

I am writing this to appeal to urge you to stop the telecast of the recently launched serial "jodha Akbar" being aired on Zee TV as it can have a negative impact on the society. To begin with, the serial itself runs on the disclaimer that it lays no claim to any historical event. This disclaimer came after there were protests from the Rajput community and from some historians against the inauthenticity of the story being presented. The main argument is that there was no mention to "Jodha Bai" in the historical sources. This debate was also raised for the movie "Jodha Akbar" starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai. It is important for the producers to state the historical source of the story. It should be binding for them to mention the exact historical accounts as history, we know and have seen, is not just the past. It has or is made to have serious implications in the present. One of the most shameful example is that of the demolition of Babri Masjid and the communal riots.
As stated previously, the producers of the serial "Jodha Akbar" has "negotiated" with the protestors and now there is a disclaimer before and during some scenes in the serial stating that the serial does not have any historical backing. The question then is, why is there a need to telecast such a serial? Why is there a need to use the names? Even if Jodha may not have ever existed, Akbar did. Where is the need to demonise him? It is shocking that this has been allowed in a communally-sensitive country. India is threatened with the forces of hindutva which claims the country to be the ancestral and "rightful" property of only Hindus, negating the claims of all other religious groups. It also demonises muslims and have used (or misinterpreted) history to serve their purpose. Even a "liberal" Hindu will agree to this baseless nonsense.

The fact is that history is too hazy. There is so much that can be said about these things. The fact that can be safely established is that religion was not a big deal when the rulers invaded the "country" (which did not exist at that time) in 14th-15th century. Also, desecration of temples was a political statement than a religious one. Historian Richard Eaton has talked about conquest mosques which were built by desecrating the earlier monument because it is quite a rule that an invading ruler establishes throne by destroying the symbols of the previous ruler. The fact is that the word "muslim" in a religious sense for the rulers did not emerge in the historical sources before 16th century. For a native in a kingdom in the now-Gujarat, a ruler from rajasthan was as much a foreigner as a turk. There is so much written on these issues. There is literature on how it were the British who had divded the history into hindu and muslim. But nothing has been read because the historical truth is not in line with the political motives. The historical truth negates Hindutva as baseless. One major point is that V D Savarkar, the founder of the ideology of Hindutva, had himself written in his book on Hindutva that whatever he is writing is for a political reason. Yet, nothing has been read. People have carried the biased colonial legacy and as a result, thousands of innocent people have lost their lives.

Thankfully, the forces of Hindutva seem to be resting with BJP focussing on "development" and the recent unpopularity of other Hindu fundamentalist groups. Some years back, the court had also passed a "secular" verdict on the ayodhya issue which was, thankfully, welcomed. But this serial seems to revive these forces as it re-iterates the baseless stereotypes about mughals. Akbar is shown to be this demon. He is shown to be a "Muslim" ruler. It is historically incorrect to use terms like "secular", "conservative" or "liberal" for rulers as these terms are of recent origin but if I do commit the sin, just for this time, I will not be wrong to say that Akbar is popular for being "secular". He is known for Din-i-ilahi, for rejecting the teachings of the ulama, for rejecting conservative Islam and for rajput-mughal alliances. If we read the history, we will know that this happened for many reasons. But according to the serial, it was Jodha, a Rajput princess who forced him to become "good". Jodha had swore to some goddess that she will behead Akbar and throw the head on the feet of the goddess, bringing a very strong religious angle. It is also historically inauthentic. But a more important concern is the dangerous effect that it will entail. The serial re-iterates the notions about "muslim" rulers who invaded, discriminated, dishonoured women and tried to destroy the "hindu" culture.

Therefore, I appeal that this serial should be banned from being telecasted on the grounds that it is historically inauthentic, demeaning and has the potential to revive communal tensions in the country.

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