In The Dark Knight, there’s a scene when a fanboy impersonates batman and tries to fight off thugs, to no avail obviously, and is subdued by the goons before batman comes in and saves him. When batman tells him not to repeat this again, the desperate fanboy whimpers, “we’re trying to help you…” to which a nonchalant batman says, “I don’t need help…”
This pretty much sums the whole Tanmay Bhatt snapchat video saga that’s been hovering on for a couple of weeks now.
The legends in this case – Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar – aren’t really bothered about what some insignificant guy says about them on a snapchat video. They don’t need your help. What needs help is free speech and, sadly, Tanmay Bhatt.
Dig on to this whole debate on the internet and you’ll find that those appalled by Tanmay’s video usually have their arguments parked in a couple of spheres – gaining publicity, misuse of free speech, our culture is different and disrespecting legends. I’m going to list down my thoughts on each of these spheres.
It could very well be a publicity stunt. But publicity stunt is not a crime. You could condemn his attempt, you could not watch the video, but you can’t have the artist banned or have him brought to book.
Misuse of free speech
The only way free speech can be misused is when it intends to provoke breach of peace. Mere contradiction with somebody else’s world view is not misuse. Unfunny jokes are definitely not misuse of free speech. I’d rather we discipline our fragile ‘sentiments’ and not bully others into silence every time anybody opens up their mouth.
On The Newshour Debate (TimesNow channel), somebody rightly asks – why are jokes, sometimes as unfunny and rude as Tanmay’s video, on Rahul Gandhi taken lightly but not this one? A smiling Raju Shrivastav answers that Rahul Gandhi hasn’t achieved anything yet while Sachin and Lata have. Isn’t that a bit unfair? If somebody hasn’t achieved anything (and who decides the definition of achievement, by the way?) it is perfectly fine to mock them but not otherwise.
I think we should do away with this two-facedness and learn to maintain a similar attitude in all situations.
Our culture is different
When everything fails, there’s always the culture argument. Self proclaimed protectors of Indian culture and rabid nationalists (their number increasing exponentially since Modi) have programmed themselves so hard the moment they hear the word ‘West’ they’re liable to blurt out ‘Culture’.
Let’s be honest. We ought to compare with the West in such matters because theirs is certainly a more liberal, modern and free society.
A guy who attempts humor (although falls flat absolutely) creates a furor in the country while nobody bats an eyelid on Shiv Sena and MNS leaders’ calls to “whip” and “have his knees broken”. For me, that is far more outrageous than all disrespects of all the legends of the country put together.
Please, let’s not be idiots. Let’s vouch for free speech.
P.S. I can hear a Jackson song in the background of this whole chaos that should be Tanmay’s anthem.
But There’s A Bigger Problem
That’s Much More In Demand
You Got World Hunger
Not Enough To Eat
So There’s Really No Time
To Be Trippin’ On Me