My name is Khan and I am just a film critic who reviews movies for a living. When I am not reviewing films I am watching them. And when I not doing either, I am perhaps busy interviewing an actor, screenwriter, director, or a film technician. Whatever little time remains I try and utilise that to read books on cinema. In other words, I live and breathe cinema round the clock.
For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to do this. I even gave up a lucrative corporate career to pursue my passion.
The world of movies is a realm of immense beauty that inspires awe. While the filmmaker is the conductor, the actors and technicians are the instruments that help create the cinematic symphony.
Over the last decade or so I have been fortunate enough to see the world of cinema from up close. I really consider it a privilege to be able to glide through this world of pure wizardry. To be able to talk to the visual as well as performing artistes and master technicians, national as well as international, and listen to them disclose their artistic secrets and methods is pure bliss.
But the wizardry comes at a price, for these artistes tend to be very sensitive and fragile, which often makes them soft targets and easy victims. That’s precisely why they need to be shielded and protected. They never shy away from answering the call when the nation needs them. When there are floods, droughts, earthquakes or any other calamity they are usually amongst the first ones to come forward and extend their support. Also, they pay huge taxes that give a boost to the exchequer. When they travel abroad they act as brand ambassadors for the country. They bring home accolades and fame as we thump our chests with pride and patriotic fervour.
And, yet, today when celebrities find themselves cornered, why is it that they stand alone? Why are people reluctant to stand up for them? Even without a trial, why are they being declared guilty? Why is Bollywood’s reputation being destroyed on the basis of speculation and hearsay?
If COVID-19’s reign of terror wasn’t enough all hope that remains is now being sucked dry by those driven by vested interests, hell-bent on misleading the people and depriving Bollywood fans of their role models. Bollywood, which enjoys a humongous global following, is on the brink of losing its hard-earned prestige.
The current situation of Bollywood reminds us of McCarthy's witch-hunt in Hollywood during the late 1940s and 1950s, wherein actors, directors, screenwriters and others were blacklisted due to their alleged ties to communism.
Back then also there were no trials. Artistes found their careers destroyed as speculation and hearsay reigned supreme. All these decades later, it is Bollywood’s turn to face a witch-hunt in the name of drugs scandal. Yet again, livelihoods would be ruined and careers would be destroyed. To quote Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”
Now, the law of the land needs to be respected by all in letter and spirit. There are no two ways about it. Consumption of drugs is illegal according to our law and those who are found guilty must be punished as per the provisions in the law. But why partake in a witch-hunt? Who gave us the right to deliver our own verdicts? How can we assume people to be guilty even before any court of justice in the country has even started with its proceedings in the matter?
Some of us want the B-town stars to be proven guilty so badly that in our heart of hearts we have already started celebrating their downfalls. Our sadistic drives want us to see them getting completely ruined. We don’t just want them to suffer professionally. We also want them to suffer at the personal fronts.
We don’t care if they too have families. We don’t mind if it destroys their personal bonds. So what if their parents are subjected to the worst kind of harassment and humiliation? Is it their mistake that they are rich and famous? Are they are now to be blamed for being successful? “The junkies deserve it!” you might say. But, wait! Have you seen them consume drugs with your own eyes? Or do you have access to any evidence that can corroborate these claims? “It is not our job!” you might say. But, wait! Since when did it become your job to declare people guilty even before the trial officially began? Since when did you become the judge, jury, and executioner?
(Murtaza Ali Khan is a Delhi-based film critic and journalist. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them)
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