15 May, 2021

Ethical Cleansing

For a right wing that revels in the politics of identity, Deepa Mehta’s film is the water of life itself

Ethical Cleansing

Like a great mahatma they have little in common with, the Sangh parivar understands the power of symbolism better than any other. It chooses its battles with care; it seldom falters on its timing. Check the setting of their latest performance: Varanasi, the oldest city of Hinduism, revered by millions. Check their adversary: an avant garde filmmaker, a little controversial and dubious among the middle class for an earlier film on lesbianism. Check the issue: the same old running down of tradition and religion by the so-called urban emancipated.

If, in the process, genteel notions of culture which middle India has faithfully subscribed to for the past 50 years, whether as a liberalism-inspired activity or an alien exercise, are jettisoned, so be it. They have been here before. Discordant as it may sound, given the differences in the scale of arenas, just 10 years ago they evoked Ayodhya to set up their scaffoldings of power. They understood that politics springs from cultural spaces.

And the latest controversy over the (for now) aborted filming of Deepa Mehta’s film...

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