Regressed as a nation?

The recent furore over the Padmavati movie escalated to celebrity heights when the lady essaying the lead role condemned us all to a gloomy and doomed fate – we have regressed as a nation, she said. Well, ahem, no we have not.

While there are a number of problems that plague us, what we necessarily need to understand that this is how we have evolved with our secular and cultural fabric. Intact. And a country with the kind of diversity that we boast of, will naturally run into problems when there is an expression of a certain section, garment, food item or more. But does that mean we have regressed as a nation? No! Yes, we are guilty sometimes of not dealing with things like matured adults, of watching as democracy gets mauled before standing upright again, of thinking with misplaced communal ego rather than hard won national sentiment. But have we regressed a nation? No!

Deepika Padukone is an intelligent and highly talented actress who is known to toe a diplomatic line, more often than not. Mostly, she has taken a stance for social issues with a far reaching impact. Never a word about how we have apparently regressed as a nation. So far, so good. The recent turn of events that have the potential to stall the release of a magnum opus like Padmavati must have left her bitter – a given in a situation where an actor pours in her all for a role and a story like this one. Yet, that is no reason to blame a country and say that we have regressed as a nation.

While there may be many instances that one can site to show how and how much we have progressed as a nation, we will not go there. Let us instead talk about the fact that we have not in fact, regressed as a nation. Instead, there are many instances where I see regressive thinking in Bollywood or the Hindi film industry as it is known. We still insist on letting the world portray India as a massive slum where electricity is scarce and the Internet unheard of – that is where we have regressed as a nation. We are yet to fully execute scripts without size Zero models. That is where we have regressed as a nation. The film industry has a chance to bring out some very pertinent issues that can reach out to under served sections in the various corners of the country. These sections have not regressed, they are merely not aware that they can think differently. But what does the film industry do instead? It makes a joke out of feminism, it brings in the necessary item number even if the movie is a period drama, and it gives cheques to female leads with a massive pay cut. Hmm, regressive much?

I am not discounting the fact that there have been some fabulous attempts at showcasing our values, our challenges and our very core issues in our movies. But more often than not, these movies get buried under controversy after controversy and we tend to focus on the fashion, the celebrity and the scandals surrounding the latter. Really, Bollywood?

So, no – we have definitely not regressed as a nation. To say that over a movie release date is the more regressive thought. Our progress may be meeting more than its fair share of challenges, but regressed we have not. If the actress is really in a mood to question whether or not we have regressed as a nation, she would do well to take a hard look at the way heroines are still portrayed in most movies. She would do well to take a walk down the streets lining many towns and cities. She should speak with people who sit at their computers in their Tier 2 town homes, ordering ware on Amazon from their monthly salary, in a bid to up their standard of living. She should hob nob a little more often with scientists, doctors and engineers to find out what is holding them back despite the great intellectual capital that this country stands for. And then she should decide whether or not we have regressed as a nation. And even then, she needs to understand and decide how she can take progress further.

Before talking about how much we have regressed as a nation, over the number of ticket sales she may be potentially losing, she may want to take a look at the larger problems looming before the world. If you think being a part of a movie is being a part of your nation’s progress, then you need to alter your perspective before you say we have regressed as a nation. Period. No drama.

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