Caravan

Leila: Who would question Prayaag Akbar or Netflix?

I expect a political storm over Leila, a six-part TV serial on Netflix, the first season of which went on air last week.

The serial which has Huma Qureshi as the central character is Hinduphobic and foresees India becoming a totalitarian regime, priming itself for a genocide in the name of purification, a throwback to Adolf Hitler and his “purification” drive of ethnic cleansing which caused World War II. (Even the greeting—Jai Aryavarta—a la “Heil Hitler” is uncannily similar.)

It’s a frontal attack with no punches pulled. The clock is set on 2047, exactly 100 years since India’s independence. India has been replaced by Aryavarta, as “Bharat” was known in holy Hindu texts. Its’ a totalitarian, repressive regime: The show begins with the lynching of a Muslim man and poops drop at every stage to establish “love jihad”, “ghar wapsi,” “suit-boot” persona of its authoritarian head, the degrading conditions in Doosh (Dalit) camps etc.

The serial, directed by Deepa Mehta, is based on a work of Prayaag Akbar who deserves an introduction of his own. The young writer was once deputy editor of Scroll as well as a writer for Caravan, the two news outlets with the stench of Left. His lineage is even more interesting: Prayaag is son of MJ Akbar and unlike his father who swung from Congress to BJP with a straight face, the son has ventured too far into the Hinduphobic drain to have any possibility of “purification” in future.

There is no point picking holes in Prayaag’s work. It’s a free world, you have the licence of artistic freedom and the vehicle, Netflix, is free from local censor. You know exactly your audience as well as your funders, that media outlets and film critics of this ecosystem who would only unsheathe their pens in praise.  You are turned into an icon by this system who can spot a peddler and his potential from a mile.  May be this was his intention from the outset.

I say so because the serial lacks conviction in every next frame.  Script is too convenient: the protagonist could will herself at 3-4 different places in a matter of a night in her quest to be at Commercial Centre in the morning. Surveillance always fails; frisking is always lax, the bosses are dumb idiots as the protagonist waltz from one room to another, one computer to another, her manager an accomplice hidden in plain sight. But how does it matter as long as you could stoke fears of an approaching fascist Hindu nation, overriding logic, reason, decency and all this without looking into a true mirror which reflects your dishonest self.

Let me put a writer-bucket challenge for Prayaag. The year is 2070, exactly 1500 years to Prophet Muhammad’s birth, peace be upon him. The Muslim world constitutes 90 per cent of humanity—not by repression or war but by the message of his piety, love for all. The prophet comes into dream of every Muslim on earth at a certain hour, minute and second of the night. How would you depict Prophet Muhammad? Would you dare give this role to any human actor?

No, you won’t. You can’t Prayaag. Nobody has dared so in hundreds of centuries: I hope it sobers you down to the orchestrated praise on your courage which is coming your way.  I can even ask you on an easier script: Ever heard of Tughlaq or Aurangzeb; Khilji or Tipu Sultan? How about putting your creative juices at work on these subjects?

Everyone knows that chances of a dystopian Hindu regime in future is lesser than your car running on air.  I mean in a country where you can’t even chant Jai Shri Ram or include “Veer” ahead of Savarkar or even vaguely mention “Hindi” as a link language, forget about Ram Temple, abolition of 370 and 35A, triple talaq etc, where army is independent, how would it come about. Who would burn up the Constitution? And what do you think forces in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, China and United States etc, who might have invested in your project and who you might see as your investment in fame and money, would react? Let India be taken up by a totalitarian regime?

In showing India as a dystopian state in the making, Prayaag Akbar has insulted the wisdom and resilience of a 1.30 billion people. The fibre of our democracy.  The basic tenet of peace and ahimsa which made “Aryavarta” never seek to invade, rape, kill or usurp countries. If he is looking for such traits, he would find aplenty in Islam and Christianity.  To show a country which has suffered like no other nation in 1000 years as a monster-in-making is sin—and let Prayaag deciper it in whichever religion he follows. As for millions of Hindus, we are still under repression, by tools other than war.  In the liberal world, they call it artistic licence. And a warning to Hindus: You just can’t drop your guard for the enemy is committed.

 

The saga of Kumaraswamy keeps Congress out of “mahagathbandhan”

(This is a reprint from NewsBred).

Most prospective allies dread Congress as a partner in the approaching 2019 General Elections. They know of the mauling of HD Kumaraswamy (JDS) by its partner Congress in Karnataka even though the faithful Lutyens’ Media are doing their best to keep the sensational news under the wraps.

None of the English mainstream media has taken note of a News 18 story which mentions Kumaraswamy almost “cried” while listing the ills of partner Congress recently. Only if this news was in “The Wire” or even little-known “Caravan” magazine, the English MSM would’ve fallen over each other in reserving the columns.

The report says Kumaraswamy has dropped enough hint that his Karnataka government may not last beyond the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing his party’s MLAs and MLCs, Kumaraswamy was virtually in tears, alleging that he was functioning like a clerk and not like a chief minister because Congress is interfering in everything.

“He is sad. He almost cried. Told us that the Congress was behaving like a big brother. Forcing him to sign all kinds of orders. They forced him to expand the Cabinet and even appointed chairpersons to government run boards and corporations without his approval. He feels that it is getting tougher with each passing day,” said an MLA who was present in the meeting.

Kumaraswamy apparently told his partymen that Congress leaders always expect him to behave like their subordinate. The JDS supremo and former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda was present in the meeting.

The JDS is looking for 12 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 elections while Congress is offering them just six which has led to serious friction in recent weeks.

JDS and Congress bitterly fought against each other in the Karnataka assembly elections of last year but joined hands in an opportunistic manner to keep BJP out of power. BJP had won 104 out of the 228 seats but Congress (80) and JDS (37) buried their hostility to form the government with Kumaraswamy as chief minister.

But no sooner had Kumaraswamy assumed his post, Congress began humiliating him in no uncertain manner. The English mainstream media meanwhile kept admonishing Kumaraswamy instead of questioning Congress on their arrogance.

All big players have watched the unfolding saga of betrayal in Karnataka and are hedging their bets against an alliance with the Congress.

Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) have decided to go together in the critical Uttar Pradesh and have turned their back on the old national party, now creaking under its own sloth and arrogance.

Mamata Banerjee didn’t even deign to congratulate Congress after its win in three assembly elections recently. She is carrying a personal hurt against Rahul Gandhi for ignoring her offer to contest the Tripura state assembly elections together. “I don’t know who advised him and influenced him,” Mamata had then said curtly.

Telangana chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) is already firming up Federal Front which he plans to field in 2019 general elections. He is doing the rounds of the county, knocking at the doors of Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal but apparently can’t stand Congress.

The arrogance of the Congress is sickening. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Sanghvi warns SP-BSP alliance that they ignore his party at their own risk in Uttar Pradesh. Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi chuckled at the “sleepless nights” of Mamata’s leaders in the wake of his party’s win in recent assembly elections.

There are cautionary voices within Congress, like the one of AK Antony, twice defence minister and thrice Kerala chief minister, who has openly stated that Congress is not strong enough to take on BJP in 2019 general elections. But the hubris of Congress knows no limits and it’s in-your-face arrogance is becoming difficult to ignore for the potential allies.