Padmavati, Orientalism, History, and Art

Happy Monday!  And the Padmavati trailer is out.  Was released in the middle of the night.  Quite a thing to wake up to!  And be warned, this started as simple discussion of the trailer and ended up going into a whole different and very intense kind of direction.  Which probably most of you will disagree with, I am happy to debate you in the comments so long as you remain respectful of those who disagree with you.

Do we all know what Orientalism is?  It’s the kind of word that is thrown around a lot and sometimes you understand it, and sometimes you are just nodding your head in a wise manner as though you understand it.

Edward Said, a Palestinian-American, back in the 1970s sat down and wrote a massive fascinating wonderful book trying to explain how colonialism came about and still exists.  Not in terms of troop movements and political treaties, but the way minds were changed, the way academics worked with politicians and popular writers and everyone else to somehow create a false vision of the world.  To convince people that some people aren’t people.  That the Europeans have a higher reasoning ability and so on, but that everyone else in the world is “tribal” or “angry” or “backward”.

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(Edward Said was also extremely handsome.  Which is neither here nor there, but needs to be said)

It’s the “else” that is the important part, Colonialism, unlike other eras of conquest, was not simply about “I want more power and land, I will defeat you and you will pay me taxes”.  It was on a much larger scale than ever before, and in order to excuse that, because “we” are supposed to be better than that now, the explanation was given that “we” are not the same as “them”.  That the world can be divided into “us” and “them”.  And that the “thems” can be further subdivided in logical ways, you can parcel out and sort humans just like you can apples versus oranges.  If you are French, you are romantic and cowardly.  If you are Spanish, you are hot-tempered.  All those things.  And this invaded every part of life, the assumptions that people ARE NOT the same, that there are “racial” or “cultural” traits that are inborn and we can study and memorize them and then neatly slot everyone not like “us” into their own categories.

It’s tricky with Orientalism, because there are still SOME differences between cultures/people.  Some cultures are polygamous, some cultures fast on Fridays, stuff like that.  But what Said was attacking was the really dangerous kind of assumptions, like, “such and such culture doesn’t love their children, so it is best for us to take their babies away from them” or “such and such culture is naturally violent, it is best to imprison them before they can attack”.  And that kind of assumption, that’s just not true.  People are people, all people love their children, all people can, or cannot, become violent, and so on and so on.

And really, even the “safe” cultural divisions to learn about, like “these people tend to smile at others more easily while these people do not”, become very dangerous when they are used by an outside force who is in power against them.  Because the next step is “they should smile more, because that is how ‘we’ do it, and so we will teach them to smile more.  Because anything else is wrong and dangerous and I don’t trust it”.  That’s where you get into colonialism forcing things like European style clothes, houses, farming techniques, into cultures where they made no sense.  Where there were logical reasons for non-European clothes, houses, farming techniques, but those were never considered because if it wasn’t like “us” it couldn’t be right.

Image result for traditional african farming methods

(Just as an example, in Africa before colonialism, farming tended to be done in small separated plots with mixed produce.  The Europeans didn’t like this, they taught a “better” way of mass farming all the same crop.  The soil was quickly depleted and all crops gave a lesser yield.  Plus, the diet of the farmer suffered and nutritional issues became rampant.  The previous way was the best way to provide a mixed diet, a constant harvest (as some produce was always in season), and to keep the soil healthy.  The Europeans saw what was happening, but never bothered to think that there might be reason behind it, just went in and forced a change.)

Said is arguing for a kind of radical humanism.  Reject all of these studies, all of these “this language promotes a lack of emotion through the use of pronouns” kind of theories.  Bring it down to a basic level.  What do all humans want?  Home, food, family, love.  That’s all there is.  And when you find yourself making an argument that does not fit within that premise, it is a flawed argument.

And we see this today, a simple one that is continually disproved is that African-American men “don’t want to be” “don’t know how to be” fathers.  And there are all kinds of lofty historical arguments about this and so on and so on.  But if you are a father, or know a father, do you think all those lofty historical arguments make sense?  When you hold your child in your arms, are you thinking “because of the system of slavery and repression, I feel nothing right now”.  NO!  Of course not!  And objective studies have shown this, African-American fathers on average spend MORE time with their children than ANY OTHER GROUP in America.  However, they do not get to spend as much time as they want because they are so overly incarcerated and otherwise abused.  The system is taking the argument that they contribute nothing to the social/family fabric, and using that as a reason for “well, his family will be better off, or at least not notice a difference, if he is in jail.  Unlike a white man, who we must consider the effect on his children if he is incarcerated”.

“Orientalism”, the general idea of categorizing people, started with colonialism but has morphed and changed in the years since.  It’s not a simple thing that you can pin point and say “the British did this and now it is over”.  It is never over, it has been adopted by the new people who are in power and changed in different ways.  In the same way that the American argument of “the slaves don’t really love their children so it is okay to separate families” has now been updated to “because of the historical effects of slavery, the present day African-American man doesn’t really love his children”.

Which brings me to this film!  The British were very big on defining and standardizing religion in India.  They liked the idea of Hindu versus Muslim, not the messy stuff like “well, what about a Muslim community within a particular region that also follows certain festivals and traditions of their Hindu neighbors and vice versa?”  And that clear line, obviously, is still present in Indian society top to bottom in a lot of odd ways.  As is the fact that the line can disappear when you get into things like vegetarian Muslims or Hindus who eat beef.

Image result for rishi kapoor

(Rishi Kapoor, out and proud beef eating Hindu)

The line of “this” versus “that” quickly turns into “us” versus “them”, and then into “good” versus “bad”.  And the “good” versus the “bad”, that is not okay for either side of things.  The “bad” people are then abused, punished, distrusted by default.  And the “good” people are told exactly what it means to be “good” and that if they do not follow those definitions, they run the risk of being thrown out of the “good” crowd.

Which brings me to this trailer!!!!  FINALLY!!!!!  Like Devdas or Bajirao, this trailer is an orgy of Hindu fantasy.  The woman is beautiful, perfect, and devoted to her husband.  The “good” people, the ones like “us”, they are the woman dancing and running to greet her husband, giving him his helmet to wear into battle, following the pattern of “woman who worships her husband and whose power and identity and value is all tied up in her devotion to him”.  Even in Bajirao, Priyanka’s character struggled with how to handle her marriage issues, but there was never an argument that marriage didn’t have to be the most important thing in her life, that maybe her reaction to her husband getting a second wife was “great! I’m sick of having sex with him, and now I can focus on my needlepoint”.  Or even “shoot, less political power which is the main purpose of this marriage”.  No, in this orgy of “appreciate REAL Indian history!”, we are taught “ah, look at the beautiful culture in which men are noble and fight the Muslims, and women worship and obsess over them”.

(This is a beautiful song sequence, but it is also about two women brought to ecstasy by literally worshiping the man they love as a God.  And that is all they want in life, as all good women should, to worship one single man and remain faithful to him for all time)

And so if you are one of “us” watching this trailer, well, there is damage there.  You are taught that this is the heroic martyr of Indian history, a woman so devoted to her husband that she would die for him, that her whole life is wrapped up in him.  Not, for instance, Jhansi Ki Rani who moved right on and kept fighting after her husband’s death, who is remembered for herself, not for her husband or her father or any other man around her.  No, your fantasy becomes being that beautiful woman with the jewels and the handmaidens, who waits with bated breath for her “man” to appear, and whose life is over once he leaves her.  Whose virtue and devotion to her husband belong not just to her, but the entire nation.

 

And if you are one of “them” watching this trailer, well, that’s a whole other kind of damage!  Ranveer Singh is essentially wearing, I don’t know, “Muslim-face”?  Is that a thing?  I am thinking of the equivalent of Black Face in America.  He is not human, he eats meat by gnawing at the bones, his hair is long and unkempt, his sexual desires are not Holy and confined within elaborate social norms, but wild and untamed.  He is the “other” force that is coming to destroy the pure virtuous beauty of “us”.  Truly, if you are American, watch this trailer and pretend that Ranveer is a white man playing an African-American and Dips and Shahid are playing pure white people surrounded by other pure white people.  It’s uncomfortable, right?  It’s Birth of a Nation, it’s Gone With the Wind.  Brilliant beautiful powerful films.  But with a message that poisons all their beauty.

 

And now you are going to say “but it’s historical fact” or “but it’s just a movie”.  It’s not historical fact.  We got into this a little when the film was first announced.  The common version of the Rani Padmavati story is taken from an epic poem written 200 years after she lived and died.  A poem, NOT a history text.  The Rani Padmavati poem was written as a poem, a pretty story around a real historical event.  The poem involves, for instance, a talking parrot.  The siege of Chittor by Alauddin Khaulji, that was a historic event.  Nothing else in this story necessarily is.

And even the poem itself and the version it tells has been massaged here.  In the poem, Shahid’s character is killed by another Hindu Rajput king.  Padmavati is desired by 3 men, her husband (who hears about her by way of magic parrot), Alauddin, and the king of Kumbhalner.  While Alauddin is laying siege to their city, Padmavati’s husband has to go out and fight on a second front against the other ruler who is attacking.  He dies in that battle, and Padmavati kills herself on hearing of his death.  It’s supposed to be a story about a woman who was desired by three men and how that affected a series of battles.  It is not supposed to be about Hindu versus Muslim.

Image result for padmavati posters

(Look at that nice big tilak on his forehead screaming “HINDU” at us)

What is most likely historical fact is that there was a great siege of Chittor.  And coincidentally a second attack that killed the king during that same period.  A memorable event that no doubt had ramifications through out the region and many people were aware of it.  And therefore, 200 years later, a poet decided to use this as a basis for a story.

And now you are going to say “but oral tradition!”  The thing about oral history is that you can’t mix and match it.  You can’t have oral history that lives together with written history.  If your grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s grandmother (that may still not be enough) was a friend of Rani Padmavati and passed on this story through your family of exactly what happened, that is oral tradition.  If your grandmother told you this story because she read it in a book, that is not oral tradition, that is just written tradition second hand.  Perhaps the original was based on an oral tradition.  But 200 years, considering the average life-span at the time, would be a pretty stretchy oral tradition.  Plus, the poet was a Sufi who lived in present day Utter Pradash.  Pretty far removed from access to the grandchildren of the grandchildren of the grandchildren of the people who could have actually lived this story and passed it on to him.

Now, let’s look at actual history that is available for this time.  Ruins of buildings, codes of laws that were written in stone, old coins, that kind of thing.  Aluaddin was a great military leader, and also instituted various tax reforms.  Primarily his focus was on creating a direct system of taxation between the State and the farmers, bypassing the traditional rulers.  This weakened the power of the traditional landowners and nobles.  Which could be good or bad, depending on how you feel about traditional landowners and nobles.

In terms of military, on the one hand he initially went to war against the Mongols.  And successfully held off their invading force from going into India for his entire rule, one of the greatest military achievements in Indian history.  On the other hand, in order to finance this, he attacked into the south to gather riches.  Again, this could be good or bad.  From the perspective of the people living in Delhi facing the Mongol threat head on, he was a hero and a savior.  From the perspective of the people living to the south, he was their invader.

And in terms of his personal life, he had at least two wives.  His first wife was a political marriage, to the daughter of the Sultan of Delhi before him.  He had constant stress with her father and family, which indicated stress between himself and his first wife as well.  His second wife was related to one of his military leaders and seems to have been a happier marriage.  And finally, his closest relationship was with his top general, Malik Kafur.  There were rumors that this was a romantic relationship, but that might have merely been propaganda.  So not a perfect saintly man devoted to one woman, but also not a crazed sexual deviant.

In terms of religion, Aluaddin was a Sunni Muslim and persecuted Hindus and Shia Muslims alike.  They paid a higher tax rate, and there was a certain pride in conquering their territories and destroying their temples.  However, he was also criticized at the time for “compromising” with people of other faiths, letting the Hindus maintain their religion after being conquered.

Generally, what I am saying is, Aluaddin was not insane or inhuman.  He was ambitious, and good at warfare, but it was warfare with a purpose.  To raise money to fight the Mongol threat, and to try to centralize government under one authority, to lower the powers of local kings and nobles in order to increase his own.  Not a good man, but a man.  Someone with reasoning power and purpose behind his actions.

 

And now we bring you back to this trailer.  This is not a man, what we are seeing here.  This is an out of control crazed person.  And not an “Indian” person either.  Aluaddin, the historic person that we can trace through almost contemporary accounts and things like old coins and stone artifacts, was born in Delhi.  He is at least the second, if not the third or fourth, generation in his family to have been born in Delhi.  Their background was a hodgepodge of Turkish and Afghani and North Indian.  And if we are talking about “exotic” and “Indian” and so on, the original talking parrot version of the story has Padmavati herself as Sri Lankan.  So we should be seeing Deepika’s character as “other” and “different” and so on just as much, or more than Aluaddin.  Aluaddin’s family background was from Afghanistan, Padmavati’s made up background was actually born and raised in Sri Lanka.

Image result for padmavati posters

(Ah yes, clearly a 3rd generation Indian.  NOT!)

Oh but wait, Padmavati is HINDU!!!  So she is “Indian”.  But Aluaddin is Muslim, so even though HISTORIC FACT says that he is “Indian”, was born in Delhi, lived in Delhi, defended the greater Indian territory against outside invaders, then we must show him with ridiculous Turkish garb and so on and so on.

Image result for padmavati posters

(She looks so Sri Lankan!  NOT!)

Now, in America, no biggie, right?  It’s all just pretty colors and drama, let’s enjoy this as escapism.  But, in America, if someone said to you “violent Hindu fundamentalism” or “oppressed abused Hindu wives”, would this film cause you to have that moment of “oh no, but they are so pretty and noble!”?  And if someone said to you “oppressed Muslim Indian minority”, would this cause you to have a moment of “really?  Or are they dangerous attackers who need to be removed?  Are they even Indian really?”

So no, it is not just a movie.  It is a reinforcement of dangerous cultural assumptions that have actual violent day to day results.  I can’t speak to the Indian part of things, because I am not Indian, but obviously it can have a more dangerous effect in the country that it is actually portraying than it will overseas.

 

But yes, it is also very pretty.  So is Gone With the Wind.

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167 thoughts on “Padmavati, Orientalism, History, and Art

  1. Brilliant piece of writing. Bravo. Since the time the trailor came out, i was researching on these characters and found them to be very close to what you have mentioned here. E.g look at the flag Ranvir is carring. Then look at the pictures from history and the flags in them. Twisted tales to suit ones own interest i guess. Secondly Padmavati is being portrayed as some one brave . Really? She burnt herself in fire withouht fighting the enemy. Look at Razia Sultana or any other warrior women who actualy faught a battle with enemies. Its a shame that we are going back in time and not helping to ease the communal hatred among ourselves .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! That’s nice, the first comment agrees with me.

      The flags are a great point, that is one of the things that bothered me in Bajirao as well. Every battle was a saffron flag against a green one.

      And yes, I don’t necessarily think Padmavati is the kind of heroine little girls should want to imitate, in any way. Razia Sultana, Jhansi Ki Rani, much better inspirations.

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  2. Thank you for the balanced, logical and well thought out piece. In times like this,when hatred is encouraged by govts, such a movie is just another twig in the bonfire of division and ignorance. I don’t understand how it gets made. Your article should go onto a newspaper platform.

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    • Thank you! That is very nice of you to say. I wouldn’t necessarily say I am surprised this film was made, but I am disappointed. I hope I am not the only person who publically expresses disquietude with it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is a brilliant write up. Thank you so much. The film looked enjoyable, expect for those flag colours, but when I rewatched the trailer this slight feeling of unease gave way to a pain in my stomach. It doesn’t even matter anymore, which meaning or message (if any) the complete film will contain, the damage, as you said it yourself, is already done. It’s tell-taling how some misguided teenager armed with a Smartphone or tablet jumps in and dares to speak for “the People of India” – not just here in the comments, but on Tumblr as well – to flatter and inflate their own insecure and immature ego. -We do not need any further division concerning religion, skin colour or what not! Also this “pure woman” fantasy: I find it deeply disturbing just how closely racism and islamophobia (or antisemitism) are linked with misogyny – it’s all about “THEY come to steal our women”.

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  3. I agree with you, too! Don’t let my initial reaction to a well-edited trailer, which is undeniably giving us some pretty epic visuals, fool you. That’s why I commented about my discomfort with how this would be perceived, especially in the current political landscape of India. Of course, it’s not based on historical fact (thus my choice of “moment” in my comment). I particularly enjoyed the striking images of Ranveer as the character in the posters, but put them in context and add the visuals of the crescent flags, the general “othering” and the animalistic eating of the meat in the one scene…yes, your arguments are completely valid. I was also more concerned initially when details were leaking about a possible portrayal of bisexuality that it would be handled with sensitivity (I think after seeing the trailer it’s quite possible that element of his character will be another tool to make him a less than human villain).

    I still am looking forward to seeing the film, not just because I do have enjoyed much of SLB’s work until now, but because I think that cultural (not just film) critics in India will have a lot to say about it and I want to know what they’re talking about. Do I also see this film (at least as portrayed in the trailer) as a symptom of a very insidious anti-Islamic trend in global politics and culture and the rise of right-wing Hindu nationalism in India specifically? Absolutely. Fortunately, I have the ability to separate those two things and I’m sure if this film does what we think it might do when seen in its entirety I will be able to critique it on that basis. But, I think, the point that you’re trying to make is that not everyone who goes to see it will have that same disconnect and the damage is already done.

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    • Let me link back to the first post I did when this film was announced just so you can read the comments:

      https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2016/08/10/news-round-up-salman-makes-big-profit-on-sultan-announces-new-heroine-for-next-film-and-ritiesh-is-a-gentlemen-oh-and-shahrukhs-next-role-might-be-awesome/

      So, it seems like the accepted common sense common knowledge view in India is that Aluaddin was in fact as he is presented in this trailer. Which makes the film that much more dangerous to me. It’s not just a matter of separating film from reality, but understanding that the “reality” you have been told is merely a poem based on nothing. And an abbreviated condensed version of even that poem.

      That is also why I find this trailer so concerning. I think this is going to be one of those films I need to see because uninformed critique is useless, but I will need to buy a ticket for something else because I am not comfortable giving the filmmakers money, or contributing to a higher box office.

      And of course I knew you would understand! We’ve talked about Orientalism and stuff before, I knew you had a sophisticated understanding of it.

      On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 1:08 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I went over and read the comments…I see what you mean sadly. I never expect historical accuracy from a film based on a true story (it’s literally impossible to “recreate” the past, especially when you’re working in this case with few sources that are centuries removed from the present). Even documentary film making has a perspective and takes sides. And this film is completely SLB’s creation…if the definition of auteur ever applied to anyone in Indian cinema it definitely refers to him.

        I also think that we become dangerously immune to this in all of our film and television watching. I find myself consistently gritting my teeth during overtly racist and sexist scenes in Indian films all of the time and still deciding that overall I enjoyed a film. Badrinath Ki Dulhania is a recent example that I just cannot ever like or watch again because it crossed some kind of red line for me. It didn’t for others. A Gentleman, for instance, had a couple of moments that were a little off. It’s like when you revisit a film that you loved from your childhood and you didn’t realize how problematic it was until 1) you’re old enough to pick up on it or hopefully 2) the culture has evolved and doesn’t sanction it any longer, ie Sixteen Candles and the portrayal of Asian-Americans.

        That’s a great idea for how to go and see this one in the theaters and avoiding giving SLB and the studio producers behind him and the political supporters he may have any more money or political clout. I was really looking forward to possibly seeing this one in the theaters (my first Indian film in the theaters in a couple of years) and now I might actually rethink my decision.

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        • I would also love to see how you would digest in writing the response by many (including myself) to the initial images of Ranveer in this role, i.e. the sexualization of the character, which unfortunately can also be a symptom of exotification that leads to othering. Many are also drawing connections to Khal Drogo (a rapist character on GoT who fans still glamorize, and the Dothraki). Different, inherently, because that’s fiction, but still…it’s getting more and more complicated the deeper you go.

          Articles like this on buzzfeed (https://www.buzzfeed.com/soniathomas/save-me-friends?utm_term=.mlJ8JoZWR#.wmr2EP8DG) can be deconstructed in the same way.

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          • Again, the familiarity with the way the Black man is handled in America is striking. Both an object of sexual fear, and of sexual titillation. The “would you want your sister to marry one of them?” question which has the underlying premise that your sister MIGHT want to marry”one of them” because there is something innately appealing there which you need to protect your sister from. There is also the recent concept of “love Jihad” in India which includes an idea that Muslim men somehow have some animal attraction that draws “our” women to them.

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        • Holiday Inn is the first film I remember having that “I just can’t get past this” feeling. I must have been 6 or 7 maybe, watching every single Fred Astaire film, but the blackface sequence in that is stomach turning and I’ve never been able to go back to it. Even in an edited version it it removed, I know it was there to begin with. What’s strange is I was much to young to understand on an intellectual level what was happening, so it wasn’t exactly a moral “judgement”, it was more moral “disgust”. Which I think is what you are describing. It’s not “I will protest this film because I have an intellectual objection to the content”, it is “I sincerely cannot enjoy this film because I am having a reaction that I cannot get past”. And it’s different for every person, what that line will be.

          I had a similar reaction to Bajirao, all those saffron flags going out to destroy the green flags while we cheered, it was just stomach turning. And this one I expect even more so.

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          • I don’t remember blackface in Holiday Inn? But recently saw Swing Time for the first time and was definitely taken completely out of the film by that segment. Same reason, I’ll never be able to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s again.

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          • See, Swing Time blackface doesn’t completely ruin the movie for me. It makes me dislike it and watch it least of all the Astaire-Rogers films (along with some other stuff I don’t like), but it isn’t that stomach turning “I can never watch this again” of Holiday Inn. Which just gets back to the slight differences in intent and presentation. Swing Time, while the Black face is wrong, was on some level an attempt to honor an African American artist.

            Holiday Inn, it was a supposedly for Lincoln’s birthday, full on accents and garb and so on. And it was structured in the plot as a “disguise”, a way to make the heroine unappealing and unattractive because who would ever look at a person with a black face? and the reason you don’t remember it, is because it is so clearly over the line that the entire sequence has been cut from broadcast and most recorded versions of the film. I’m not sure why we saw the version with it in when I was a kid, must have been some random VHS our movie store had. I was looking for it on youtube, but you can’t even find it there. The best I can give you is a few stills to give you the idea:

            https://blacknwhitemovies.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/holiday-inn-blackface.jpg?w=400&h=298

            Versus Swing Time

            Both are wrong, but it’s different levels of wrong that I would have to think about a lot more to articulate, but you see what I mean, right? Someone with a uniformly tan face in a kind of zoot suit look is very different from someone with the full on white lips and natty hair and minstrel show style clothing.

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          • Well that explains why I never saw that scene in Holiday Inn and I’m glad I’ve never had to but I’m equally glad that you educated me about the history of that film, too! I do agree somewhat with your contrasting of the two, but as a product of this generation where blackface is absolutely never OK, it’s still hard to watch. My friend who I watched Swing Time with loves the dancing in the Swing Time scene and understood the intention behind it and prepared me.

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  4. Oddly enough, I just had a conversation with my husband and our friend after seeing Blade Runner 2049 about how science fiction about AI beings helps us understand colonialism and racism without necessarily (important qualifier) using existing racist imagery. It’s all about us and them, after all.

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    • Yes! And of course the flipside, Lord of the Ring and some parts of Star Wars have been criticized for supporting without interrogating those very “us versus them” ideas.

      On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 1:20 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I saw a comment somewhere on twitter today that the Muslims in Padmavati were being portrayed like the orcs in the Lord of the Rings.

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  5. What’s there to debate?

    This trailer, like lot’s of trailers before it and lot’s more that will follow, is marketing to people that prefer certain moral values over others (including parents and caregivers using their own value system to decide whether their children or wards should be influenced in any way, by said parents or caregivers, if these juveniles bother to watch a Mr. S.L. Bhansali work product).

    Releasing the trailer helps potential viewers decide whether they are going to watch this film or not when it is made available.

    Mr. S.L. Bhansali, as well as the previous writers on this topic at this forum are exercising the, what in the U.S. is included in that nation’s constitution’s first amendment, right for a person to express that person’s feelings about their own or another person’s belief systems.

    And on a more asinine level, I express the following. Was Joseph Stalin one of “us” or one of “them”?

    http://necrometrics.com/20c5m.htm#Stalin

    Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Something interesting to consider is when Free Speech becomes a danger to public safety. In America, there was a famous court case based on the hypothetical of yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. Yes, you have the right to say anything you want. But in some situations what you say can cause immediate harm, and that supersedes your right to free speech.

      This same argument is why Birth of a Nation (which lead to the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan in America and the death of hundreds if not thousands in the following years) was not in fact played in every city in America. In some places, civic leaders argued that it would create an immediate danger to others and therefore the rights of safety were more important than the right to free speech,

      In India of course this argument holds even less weight, since one of the main reasons the censor board gives for failing to approve a film, or recommending cuts, is because it might offend communal sentiments. If Akshay Khanna was not allowed to refer to “egg eating Hindus” in Toilet, it really feels like they should have the authority to make some kind of cuts to this film.

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  6. I absolutely love this article and find it much more intresting that the trailer. Like the other girls I agree this post should be publicated in other places outside the blog because more people should read it.
    I have never planned to watch Padmavati. There was one moment when Shahid look was reavaled that I almost changed my mind, but now after seeing the trailer I’m undeterred. The story looks just too black and white – Deepika and Shahid are so pretty, so good and Ranvir is such a beast.

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    • And I don’t mind a black and white story necessarily if it is done right. But this seems like too serious and not serious enough at the same time. I am comparing it with the two films I watched recently, Spyder and Judwaa 2. Judwaa, our villain was entertainingly ridiculously bad, wasn’t serious at all. Spyder, they really thought it through and came up with a complicated original villain. But in this (based on the trailer), the villain is shallow and yet not “fun” really,

      On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 3:28 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I recognize that the so-called ‘free speech’ right in the U.S. is not absolute.

    As an ancillary observation, the “falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater” (Schenck v. United States, 1919) limiting test on free speech is outdated law, by 50 years . The current limiting test is a 48 year-old U.S. supreme court ruling, Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969).

    The majority opinion, which created the so-called Brandenburg Test, is paraphrased on Wikipedia as:

    … the Court held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless that speech is “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”

    I have yet to see any evidence that the people watching the trailer in question in 2017 in the U.S. will be motivated by that viewing experience and become people who are (1) “imminently” about to (2) “more likely than not” (3) “intend to behave in a lawless manner”, for a movie located far, far, away at a time that was long, long, ago.

    There is a supposed censor police in the land of Padmavati that has more expertise than the writer of this comment on whether the film being sold by this trailer needs to be limited in any manner in Padmavatiland. I have no opinion on any other jurisdiction’s current standard on free speech limits.

    Regards.

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      • I was waiting for this to come up, based on your avatar image. In my archives there is already a not too complimentary review of Devdas and Bajirao. But I like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and really like Khamoshi.

        On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 4:45 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

        >

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  8. Your argument is very similar to what North Indians tell South Indians. That there was no Aryan invasion, that since there is no actual written history(and very little proof) of a barbaric invasion that led to them pushing out the majority of native dravidians to the extreme south and east of india and created the caste system while they were at it, that means the tales and stories we south indians hear are exxagerated lies.

    There was an Aryan invasion. There was an emotional, cultural subjugation of the dravidian people. And the upper caste aryans ruled India until the Turkic and Mongol invasion.

    And then there was an emotional and cultural subjugation of what they referred to as the Hindu (a catch all term for non-abrahamic pagan faiths lying beyond the Indus river- that traverse everything from ancestor worship to Hindu god worship to buddha worship) peoples.

    Padmavati committed Jauhar because after so many years of hearing tales of necromancer invader Turks and mongols (who had now made their home in Delhi) she felt she had no other choice. She was the kind of woman who didn’t feel like living without her husband and didn’t want her dead body to be defiled (if Khilji wanted/were to do so)

    As for Khiljis barbaric looks and behavior, yes, the Mongols and Turks did enjoy the nomadic life of war and rustic life, putting down roots only post Babur (in the forms of palaces et al) and not much before that.

    History is not beautiful. It is always brutal and barbaric. And the context of it is always important. But it really amazes me that it is only the Turks and the Mongols who get such a free pass for the barbarity of their ancestors.

    No one would dare tell a lower caste Hindu or a tribal Indian that characterizing the brahmin pre-independence as a savage slave driver is wrong. Would anything that Drona did make what he did to Ekalavya right? Would the sins of Kunti and the Pandavas toward Karna ever be washed away?

    Heck, despite everything they did for the same lower-castes the British/Westerners who came to India are poured and covered with enough white guilt to last for the next 20 generations.

    Yet a Hindu(or Indian) is always asked to let go of their image of the barbaric Turkic and Mongol invaders because it “others” them.

    Maybe someday even the Parsis will be asked to let go of their historic grievances with the Arabic hordes who drove them out of their Persian home and led them to flee to India. Why did you flee dear Parsis when you could have stayed and fought?

    Maybe Hypatia will be strung at the alter of public opinion in 2017 for dying with her precious books instead of fighting another kind of Abrahamic horde- the Christians.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Your argument is very similar to what North Indians tell South Indians. That there was no Aryan invasion, that since there is no actual written history(and very little proof) of a barbaric invasion that led to them pushing out the majority of native dravidians to the extreme south and east of india and created the caste system while they were at it, that means the tales and stories we south indians hear are exxagerated lies.

    There was an Aryan invasion. There was an emotional, cultural subjugation of the dravidian people. And the upper caste aryans ruled India until the Turkic and Mongol invasion.

    And then there was an emotional and cultural subjugation of what they referred to as the Hindu (a catch all term for non-abrahamic pagan faiths lying beyond the Indus river- that traverse everything from ancestor worship to Hindu god worship to buddha worship) peoples.

    Padmavati committed Jauhar because after so many years of hearing tales of necromancer invader Turks and mongols (who had now made their home in Delhi) she felt she had no other choice. She was the kind of woman who didn’t feel like living without her husband and didn’t want her dead body to be defiled (if Khilji wanted/were to do so)

    As for Khiljis barbaric looks and behavior, yes, the Mongols and Turks did enjoy the nomadic life of war and rustic life, putting down roots only post Babur (in the forms of palaces et al) and not much before that.

    History is not beautiful. It is always brutal and barbaric. And the context of it is always important. But it really amazes me that it is only the Turks and the Mongols who get such a free pass for the barbarity of their ancestors.

    No one would dare tell a lower caste Hindu or a tribal Indian that characterizing the brahmin pre-independence as a savage slave driver is wrong. Would anything that Drona did make what he did to Ekalavya right? Would the sins of Kunti and the Pandavas toward Karna ever be washed away?

    Heck, despite everything they did for the same lower-castes the British/Westerners who came to India are poured and covered with enough white guilt to last for the next 20 generations.

    Yet a Hindu(or Indian) is always asked to let go of their image of the barbaric Turkic and Mongol invaders because it “others” them.

    Maybe someday even the Parsis will be asked to let go of their historic grievances with the Arabic hordes who drove them out of their Persian home and led them to flee to India. Why did you flee dear Parsis when you could have stayed and fought?

    Maybe Hypatia will be strung at the alter of public opinion in 2017 for dying with her precious books instead of fighting another kind of Abrahamic horde- the Christians.

    And its absolutely howlarious that you think this movie should be censored based on some Akshay Kumar movie’s precedent of all things. The only other people who think so are various Hindu outfits who think PAdmavati SHOULDNT be portrayed like this or that or Khilji shouldnt be portrayed like this or that.

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    • I have heard comments similar to this before, and I hope you won’t mind if I take the opportunity to ask you a question.

      How exactly do you know this? Is it in a book? Is it something someone told you? How do they know? I accept that is common knowledge, I am just curious how it came to be so widely known.

      And, a follow up question, again just because I am curious, why are the Greeks not included in your list of invaders? Since Alexander also conquered huge areas of territory, including what is now India.

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      • My list of invaders wasn’t comprehensive firstly. Indian culture says that Alexander was a fair warrior and left back to his home once he lost to King Porus and sadly died on the way. Also there are great similarities between Greek myths and ours so we feel a kinship with them maybe? There was an exchange but no imposition of culture by Alexander. He fought a war to expand his kingdom. He lost. He went back. He died on the way. That can be respected.

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      • “How exactly do you know this?”

        Know what? Don’t know what you are referring to.

        You really have heard comments comparing the Turkic and mongoose l invasions to the Aryan one? It’s not usually the case that people who believe the one happened also believe the other happened.

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          • Hi, P,
            I for one hope you’ll keep commenting. I love the multiplicity of perspectives on this blog, and I think Margaret does too, as long as folks respect each other when they disagree.

            I had to look up Hypatia last night. I love learning new things!

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          • I don’t think I’ll comment on SLB movies much again here 😊

            There is a fantabulous movie about Hypatia where she’s played by Rachel Weiz I think. I weep for Hypatia every time I watch that movie 😭

            Liked by 1 person

        • Every reputable history text I’ve read starts with the basic premise that the South Indian civilization is one of the oldest in the world, and that a series of invaders came into the peninsula from the north. Beginning with the Aryans.

          But that wasn’t what I was referring to. I was wondering about your surety that Aluaddin was a rapist, that Padmavati committed Jauhar, other details such as that.

          On Mon, Oct 9, 2017 at 11:34 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

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          • Rani Padmini may or may not have really existed but it is commonly known in both folk legend and oral history that she committed Jauhar and not sati.

            Nobody knows what Khilji would have done if he had found the queen alive or her body. It was just a risk she chose not to take given the rumours that were heard of the way the Turks conducted themselves. Again this is both a legend and an oral history we know nothing more of it. I first heard of Rani Padmini in my grandmas story and then in an Amar Chitra Katha storybook. After that I’ve tried to read the Jayasi poem and have listened to the Roussel opera. Back when SLB presented it somewhere in France(Paris?)

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          • So, what I want to get at and I mentioned in my post, and this is just me feeling the need to point it out as a former history major, but what you are describing is not oral history. If she may or may not have really existed, that makes her a legend and stories about her just stories, not history or fact. Real oral history would be proof that she had existed, it would mean you can give an unbroken path from your grandmother’s stories through to her relative who was actually there at the time, separate from any written text. For instance, that is how it came out in America that Thomas Jefferson had illegitimate children by his slave, his descendants passed this story down parent to child for generations until they finally found a historian to listen to them. It gets confused a lot, and it bothers me, because oral history is a valid important source for historical proof.

            It sounds like these commonly accepted narratives came from ACK, from previous films (looks like this is at least the 3rd big budget version of this story), poems, opera, and so on. Unless I am missing something, which is why I was asking. So the “original” source is still the epic fantasy poem written 200 years after the events. Which is there to be interpreted however someone cares to interpret or adapt it.

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          • Agreed. It is a legend.

            But the barbaric nature of the Islamic conquest of (mostly north) India is fact. Just so happens to be one that most Indian historians seem to ignore for their own reasons. Which is why the Hindutva narrative of this hinges on an exxagarated existential crisis instead 🙄

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Since you brought it up, can you precisely define what you mean by the word “system” in, “The system is taking the argument that they contribute nothing to the social/family fabric, and using that as a reason for “well, his family will be better off, or at least not notice a difference, if he is in jail. Unlike a white man, who we must consider the effect on his children if he is incarcerated”?

    By “precisely” I mean what is explicitly and objectively measurable and clearly a necessary characteristic of the word “system” in that sentence and is unambiguously contrary to another other objectively measurable characteristic (or characterisitics) that ensures that something is not a necessary component of “system.”

    “Love is a many splendid thing” is a song title that does not define ‘love’, it imprecisely describes it. Hopefully you can define with some clarity on what it is that you mean by “system” in your sentence better than that song title.

    Thanks.

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    • I picked a carefully general term. Have you run across the social analysis term “hegemony”? It means sort of the general system/ethos/beliefs of a society that do not come from anywhere in particular but somehow float around everywhere. for example, why is bribery so common in India? There’s no simple answer for htat, it is just what is.

      In the same way, by “system”, there are multiple meanings her. Judges tend to over-incarcerate Black men in America. Prosecutors over prosecute them. The media reports crimes by Black men at a higher rate than other groups. fictional media is quick to show the Black man as the dangerous aggressor. It all works together. And in none of these narratives, is the place of the Black man in the family considered. They are more likely to be shown as abusers, neglectful fathers, someone who you are “rescuing” their wives and children from by arresting him. Again, this is the story often told by prosecutors, by the media, and by fictional narratives. It all works together to create this generally accepted myth.

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  11. In light of the absence of a precise definition of “system” or the field of “social analysis” (what does it cover/what does it not cover), I’ll now go away for a few moments and celebrate the fact that you have exercised your recorded-in-the-U.S.-first-amendment rights to freely express your feelings and beliefs.

    Thanks for your work, and regards.

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    • Hi, there. As a random Internet acquaintance and regular reader/commenter here, I’m requesting that you reflect on the way you are engaging Margaret here. I’m enjoying most of your comments, which is why I’m taking the time to write this.

      I for one am really not enjoying the entitlement in your tone. Margaret owes you no definitions of any of her terms. This is not an academic or legal space. It’s a blog, written and discussed in the vernacular. If you choose not to use the vernacular here that’s your choice, but you have less than zero standing to request that anyone else here, let alone the blog owner, change her/his style.

      With this exchange, you’ve attempted to set the standards of discussion, then when Margaret (who kindly replied to your demand–I would not have) did not according to your judgment meet those standards, have oddly declared yourself the winner of said discussion, by denigrating what she is posting as “feelings and beliefs” (as opposed to facts, you imply). If you’d like to learn about systemic racism, including pervasive negative stereotypes about black men as fathers in the US, then Grandma Google is your friend.

      Basically I’m asking why you are here in this space. I hope it is to join us in good-natured discussion, debate, and goofing around. Not to score internet points in your own head. Because that would be a tedious waste of our time.

      Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll take a moment to think about it.
      procrastinatrix

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I was excited when I heard the trailer was out. Well, not excited, but curious.
    Thanks for this essay. I read your opinions on Devdas and Bajirao Mastani. I think I’ll trust your judgement on this and not subject myself to any thing associated with this film.
    What makes me curious is the nationalist response to it. Based on your analysis it seems like this and Bajirao are clearly pro saffron (Using names of religions makes me uncomfortable) propaganda (I’m not sure if SLB actually intended it that way though) I’m almost certain there will be severe backlash towards this movie, although for all the wrong reasons. Your essay makes me wonder, isn’t this enough? How much farther SLB has to go to appease them?

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    • I like the idea of “saffron” versus “green”. In a larger sense, there was an argument I heard from a Muslim classmate in college that all religions are essential peaceful and loving. and so when are talking about violence and extremists, we should not consider them to be true followers of those religions and should not allow them to have possession of those names.

      My cynical heart says that SLB is not appeasing them, but merely allowing himself to move with the mood of the times. He wants to make an epic fantastical film, he has a connection to this story from previous versions he worked on (there is some French opera version bouncing around). And he is aware that, following the moods of the day, there is a certain way to present the society he wants to show. I would be curious what kind of version he intended to make originally back in the late 90s with Salman and Aish. Would that have had a more practical villain, someone more along the lines of Sher Khan from Magadheera? An implacable warlord, but still a man? And would there have been more focus on the whole love story, not just the suffering devoted devout wife and perfect husband?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I agree with one point you mentioned, its all about perspectives of people. The saffon vs green flags will have different impacts on “us” Hindus, “them” Muslims and “you” non-Hindus.

    I always respect your posts for deep thoughful analysis and learning that give me. But once you equated African Americans with Turks, I must say, you have lost your arguments and battle.

    “We” are the oppressed, not the oppressors, when it comes to Islam. With due respect to you, unlike your ancestors, our ancestors haven’t invaded Turkish/Afgan lands, hunted natives, separate family members like animals and sold in slave markets 🙂 Like you have watched how Shaik Aslam Khan was received in Bahubali, all foreigners were treated with due respect. Turks and Afghans were invaders and whenever possible, they always destructed Hindu temples and killed Hindus. Only when necessary, they entered into treaties and understandings with local kings and landlords, to suit their purpose. Otherwise, the damage done by 8 centuties of religious conversions, 1947 partion, Indo-Pakistan wars, modern day terrorism are the causes of never healing wounds in hearts and minds of Hindus.

    You have praised “their” tax reforms. Do you know Islamic invaders didn’t have tax system as you see today? They only have disctiminatory ‘Jizya’ tax levied forcefully on non-Muslims called dhimmis. Muslims do not pay tax to governement but have zakat system whereby they need to give alms and money to poor Muslims especially during Ramadan. Even today many Islamic nations don’t have taxation but India follows taxation like in USA or Canada.

    You wondered why Sri Lankans are not treated as “Others”. Ruler of Sri Lanka Ravana was a devotee of Shiva and culturally Sri Lanka is treated as part of Bharat Varsha (Greater India). Emperor Asoka sent missioneries to convert Sri Lankans into Buddhists, but still there is no hatred between Sri Lankan Buddhists and Indian Hindus in general. (Tamils and LTTE is a different story).

    You might have known about rapes commited by German “victors” in USSR and by Sovier “victors” in Germany during second world war. No wonder the “victors” in 8-9th centuries were more barbaric. To escape life as sexual slaves, the queens and womenfolk might have preferred death. I am not glorifying Zohar but we can’t judge their (Padmavathi’s) actions with today’s hindsight.

    Certainly this movie will open another can of worms and there will be lot of arguments and counter arguments. In the end there won’t be any one understanding (as to how this movie/history should be) but different perspectives that will continue….

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    • At what point does someone become “us” for you? Becomes Indian rather than something else? Is it truly just religion? To this day, if someone is Muslim, are they not part of “Bharat”, while if they are Hindu, they are?

      Sincerely curious.

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 3:00 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent question Margaret, and I am delighted to answer it. Human relations are reciprocal (Newton’s third law of action and reaction).

        1. When Muslims are 90-100 % say in Saudi or Iran, non muslims can’t build their places of worship, have citizenship, own business/house property and so on.

        2. When they are 40-50% in population, like in then British India or now Kashmir, Russia’s Chechenya, China’s Xinjiang, they fight for partition.

        3. When they are less than 10 % population they resort to random terrorist attacks, be it USA, Europe, Australia or India.

        Now you tell me when they will learn to peacefully co-exist with “others” and I will tell you when “others” will become “us”.

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        • 1. In South Africa, there was apartheid under a majority Christian government. In America, we had slavery under a Christian government. The Buddhists in Myanmar right now are persecuting the Rohingya minority. You can pick and choose any random combination of religion and ruling party and find such examples.

          2. And the Tamilians in Sri Lanka did not want partition? Again, it doesn’t really matter, this is just to show that you can again pick and choose any example you want and try to draw a correlation with religion.

          3. Do I really need to explain that terror attacks are not limited to one religion? Have we come so far that this is no longer blatantly obvious? Mahatma Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Oklahoma City in the US, the decades of attacks by the IRA in England, the examples are in the thousands if not millions.

          But that is not my point. My point is bigger than that. What you are saying right now, which sounds reasoned and reasonable and as though you are supported by facts, is in fact hate speech. And I want you to know that I know that, and I want anyone who reads this comment to know that this is what it is. Disgusting ignorant thoughtless hate. And I will not tolerate it.

          I am disappointed to hear it from you and I am sorry, but you are now banned from commenting. This is not something I am willing to condone, even by passive listening.

          Liked by 4 people

          • Knowing how kind and thoughtful you are in real life, I know the effort and courage that took, Margaret. I have enjoyed Siva’s presence, but that comment really shook me, too. Humanity — each of us — have a long way to go. Thank heaven for films that help light the path. I might actually see this, only to be well-informed. Maybe I am being optimistic, but I prefer critical thinking and respectful discussion to censorship.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Thank you! I will also want to see the film for myself, in order to be informed. But as I said in another comment, I am seriously considering buying a ticket for another movie in order to see it, because I don’t want to contribute money to the filmmakers, or in my own tiny way help drive up the box office and therefore the “proof of message” narrative around the film. Looks like it is opening opposite the small Rishi-Amitabh comedy 102 Not Out, that is probably where I will be putting my money.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I am a big fan of free speech. My usual stance is that the proper response to something you disagree with is to reply with something better — not silence the speaker.

            But, Margaret, this is YOUR BLOG, not a public street corner. I fully support your decision is ensure that you, through your blog, are not facilitating the further publication of a position you believe is dangerously destructive.

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          • I actually read that you banned Siva before I read his comment. Let me add that all the Hindu-first commentators do not realise that every time they go “Oh the barbaric Muslim invaders did this and that to us poor Hindus” what they’re actually saying is that Hindu kings were fuddu and hindu masses were fuddu and none of us had any backbone or guts to defend our land or faith and we had no choice.

            In a war between states, one party wins. when that winner weakens, another conquers it. Throughout history, northern subcontinent had different rulers of different faiths though the muslims only came during medieval times. Why the hell do hindu-first groups never bother to tell anyone that India was ruled by hindu or multi-ethnic rulers for 12+ centuries and the muslims only lasted 6 centuries and they too didn’t have constant pan-indian holdings? By any logic, our latest invader and occupier were the British but nobody wants to blame them for anything because they’re white and they have nice things back home which we want too.

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          • He will not be able to answer that question, assuming you are talking to Siva, because he is no longer welcome to comment on this blog.

            On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 11:53 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • “When muslims are 90-100%…” – Friendly reminder that the first president of Senegal after the Independence, Léopold Senghor, was a catholic (and a poet). Just ONE example of how wrong you are. But I think you may know this. I won’t even comment on the rest of your post.

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  14. Pingback: Monday Malayalam: I Saw Solo! What an Interesting Experiment (No Spoilers Review) | dontcallitbollywood

  15. Again a very, very interesting read, in addition with the various comments.
    I watched the trailer before reading the thoughts expressed here. Honestly, my first thought was “well, a movie made for biiiiiiig screen…but I doubt I’ll like the story”. No, I don’t like this kind of black&white view I guess through the trailer in such colourful and impactful visuals.

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      • Not that it really matters, but for me that is what makes me hopeful. That a piece of art can inspire changing thoughts and attitudes. Which unfortunately can only come through conflict, but I think it is worth it.

        On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 7:55 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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        • I doubt that t h i s piece of art has in whatever way the intention of changing thoughts…it’s more of reinforcing conflicts…and this with a biiiiig colourful hammer 😉 But we will see…for now it’s ‘only’ a trailer…

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          • Depending on how the film turns out, I may borrow your “big colorful hammer” line for the title of my review.

            On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 8:18 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Definitely a movie made for the big screen. Setting everything else aside, I do appreciate the ambition of it.

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 7:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  16. I haven’t had the chance go read through the comments yet so please excuse me if I end up repeating something someone else has already said.

    So, when someone talks of pre-Raj era “India” as a single country, I am immediately reminded of Europe and I want to ask if Europe is a country now that they’re in a union? Or were they ever a single country, being as how they constantly had borders moving due to wars and invasion, etc?

    You see, the Indian subcontinent is and has always been a subcontinent. It always had multiple independent countries that resulted in the region getting all those diverse cultures. I imagine the British era as being close to the Soviet occupation of Europe. Did East Germany stop being German with its own separate history and culture simply because an invading ideologically different cultures was occupying the territory? That’s what I think of India.

    So, when we talk of pre-colonial times, perhaps it would be better to talk about the places and their kings and Queens and their stories within the context of their historical reality. Which would mean the ruler of mewar married a foreign bride and had a skirmish with the Delhi kingdom which may or may not have been about the foreign bride.

    Now imagine this story as a European one. True, the differences between the various churches had an impact on political decisions but the religious angle was an excuse. People were always going to have their wars anyway.

    Bhansali has a tendency to exaggerate. So does the religious right wing. Thankfully, in a few years, there are going to be new fools occupying the throne in India. And then this would be just a film based on a poem written ages ago. If it seems like it’s politically motivated, trust me, it’s just the Bhansali effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I knew you would have an interesting reasoned response! And you don’t even have to look at the European Union for an example. If we are going back to 1303, all of Europe was different than it is now, there was no Germany as we know it now for instance. Really, most of the world map as it is now did not exist. I would have been interested to see a film that explored the cultural differences between a Sri Lanka princess, a Rajput prince, and a Delhi sultanate and how that lead to conflict. Obviously that would never be a Bhansali film, but it would be an interesting film for someone else to make.

      I think I responded to one other comment that, for me, it feels like Bhansali is leaning into the current mood of the audience. I would be interested if his original conception of the film, 10 years ago when he wanted to make it with Salman and Aish (if I am remembering the stories correctly) was different. Not drastically different, but slightly less heavy handed on turning the villain into such a characture (I can’t spell that), perhaps focusing more on the love story between Salman and Aish before the war begins.

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 9:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • Do you remember Bajirao Mastani? I went to watch that with my other cousin (she was a high-schooler then) and beau. I was completely smitten with the music videos and I thought it would be epic. Here’s how it felt like in the theatre.

        Bajirao fights side by side with fearless warrior.
        Bajirao has a song and dance
        Fearless warrior comes to meet Bajirao
        Fearless warrior does song and dance
        Bajirao’s wife and fearless warrior have a dhola re moment
        Both women have a song and dance
        Bajirao’s mother hatches a conspiracy
        Fearless warrior has a sword for one moment
        Bajirao dies
        The end.

        The film was 90% song and dance and you kept waiting for the story to begin. But it doesn’t. It just ends. Because that was the point- song and dance. NOT history. Or a story. Just costumes and song and dance.

        I highly doubt this film is going to be any different. In fact, name one bhansali films which isn’t 90% song and dance.

        I’m quite positive the trailer contained the entirety of the most provocative parts of the films. If the trailer isn’t setting India on fire already, the film probably won’t either.

        Because let’s face it, this film is hitting theatres in the middle of elections in Gujarat and Himachal. BJP have their backs to the wall all across India in terms of public sentiment and Internet mood. Rahul Gandhi is pushing a soft hindutva narrative. Nobody is going to have the time to wonder if Khilji looks barbaric and if that’s deliberate. Besides, have you seen Ranveer IRL lately? The trailer him and RL him are not too different demeanour wise so the “role” isn’t so obvious.

        Your blog is the first one that mentioned the apparent barbarism. Everyone else is kinda just talking about the poem and the history or ignoring it.

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        • Lovely news! That there are bigger political battles being faught right now. I like it when there is that kind of political conflict and change happening. And it’s so hard from the outside to sort through Indian sources and understand that.

          Anyway, you already know this, but I have to talk about the issues in the trailer and what it all means and stuff, because it’s all I am qualified to talk about, you know? And it’s all I really had to say about this film, otherwise, it’s just another Bhansali picture. If I was going to address the trailer at all, this is how I had to address it.

          If you really didn’t like Bajirao, let me introduce you to my coverage, which is perhaps the meanest series of posts I have ever written. But if you liked it at all, don’t read:

          https://dontcallitbollywood.com/2016/01/06/bajirao-final-part-ending-synopsis-over-all-the-hatred-is-out-of-my-system-and-i-found-some-things-i-actually-liked-part-3/

          On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 10:02 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • I’m going to enjoy this post aren’t I? 😁

            I told beau what you said about the trailer so he wanted to watch and I thought my mom (she has a masters in hindi and she prepared history extensively with my father when both of them were preparing for civil services) would have a reaction and she literally had no reaction. Watching it again, it felt very meh to me too. The eyeliner on Shahid looked way too dark on the rewatch though Ranveer looked as right as a North subcontinental person.

            And while we’re on the subject of Turks, did you hear that Amir is taking Secret Superstar to Turkey? The film is going to get a launch there and he met Erdogan and got a Quran as a present!!

            This was exciting for me because I’m in love with Turkish dramas. Zee brought a few of them over to India last year but the language problem was an issue so they didn’t go beyond the one promotional event. But Amir and Turkey is exciting news!

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          • I saw Aamir was in Turkey and that made no sense to me. I mean, it made sense to be excited about a new market and go there to promote the film, but I didn’t get why it was getting so much coverage.

            But the Turkish dramas you are watching, are they buzzed about in India? Is this just a thing you stumbled on or is it on Hotstar or something? Because that would make more sense to me, if there is already some kind of cultural exchange and that’s why Aamir is pushing so hard.

            On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 10:20 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Zee launched a new channel Zindagi a couple of years ago which aired Pakistani dramas exclusively plus like a few Indian series made like Pakistani dramas that weren’t as well received. The pak dramas got superb ratings and then they launched Turkish dramas which also did extremely well. Sadly, the zee chief decided to join the anti-Pakistani actors brigade and took Pakistani dramas off air but kept the Turkish ones and added a weird Korean and a weirder Brazilian series. Then they shut the channel down and so we watched the remainder of the Turkish series we LOVED on the Ozee app which was headed by Aditya Narayan!

            There are no new Turkish dramas on air in India but we’re seeking out the urdu dubbed ones from Pakistan on the Web. Feriha, Fatmagul and Kuzey Guney received wide support in India.

            Turkey got a few Indian series dubbed in Turkish too recently and I guess those are doing well in that country. Since China gets unpredictable (BB2 release got pushed because of the indo China border skirmish), it makes more sense for Amir to go to Turkey. They like indian series there, through Pakistani entertainment they have a clue about this culture, and Amir’s film is about a muslim girl singing behind a burqa. It’s a very clever strategy!

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    • I also want to jump in and say how much I appreciate your response, too, Asmita! I especially like your last line: “If it seems like it’s politically motivated, trust me, it’s just the Bhansali effect.” That’s exactly what I’m struggling to figure out and I guess we’ll know more once we see the whole film.

      I want to give a filmmaker who I usually enjoy the benefit of the doubt, but it’s difficult, especially when right now in the US we have become (rightly so) sensitive to problematic portrayals in media because they are both a cause and symptom of our terrifying political reality right now.

      And I really can’t disagree with both of your takes on Bajirao Mastani. I liked it generally, but it left me a bit cold because there were too many songs and it was too much of the set pieces without the emotion.Totally opposite of RamLeela for me, which is one of my favorites. His earlier films are better in terms of balance of spectacle and emotion. Is there a third historically-based epic in the works with him, I seem to recall? Maybe this is a stage and he will move on to more personal stories again like Guzaarish and Black. Maybe that’s for the best.

      I’ve been meaning to try some of those Turkish dramas on Netflix myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • My recommendation would definitely be Kuzey Guney. Watch it for an amazing protagonist-BFF portrayal!! The story is good too. We fell in love with the voice of the dubbing artist too!

        Black is a personal favourite of mine. A part of it was shot at my alma mater. The scene where she’s sitting with a bunch of girls- that’s my classmates! Ha. Part of the film was shot in shimla but I loved how it captured the essence of the town while not looking like it at all.

        I really wish Bhansali breaks up with whoever the costume designer for his films is. Bajirao literally felt like a wedding couture week

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        • Haha to the costume designer comment! It’s what contributes to the overall effect that I usually enjoy, but I think he’s definitely more interested in clothes than he is in character development in Bajirao and apparently this one, too. Wedding couture photo shoot indeed. He’s been so deft at directing costume designers in the past (especially Guzaarish, Black, and Ram Leela) that it’s a shame he’s let it go so far.

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  17. Trust you to give a truly different perspective,Margaret. From what I’ve seen on the trailer, Khilji is one dimensional and without any virtue at all. But I wouldn’t trust the trailer to give a true perspective of the character. Would Ranveer take up the role of a one-note villain even if it’s just as a favor to his good friend SLB? Wouldn’t Bhansali make Ranveer’s character truly extraordinary since he’s currently SLB’s favorite?

    Regarding Padmavati’s character as a heroine – I can certainly understand why she chose to commit suicide.Her children (if there were any) would have been slaughtered.She had only rape and slavery in her future to look forward to.Her reasoning is understandable.And it really takes courage to step into the flames. But to expect future generations to take up her example is OTT.I wouldn’t necessarily call her a heroine but she’s a very courageous woman all the same.Unfortunately these days we have a predisposition to admire only one type of heroine -the warrior woman.Heroines come in all varieties.Draupadi and Amba from Mahabharata,Savitri,Nur Jahan ,Jahanara Begum from the Mughal dynasty and sundry others.

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    • One thing I am curious about is, during the run up to this, supposedly there was a lot of struggle to get anyone to take the Alauddin role, and to get Ranveer to stay in the role. So maybe it is one-dimensional, and that’s why no one wanted it.

      In terms of alternative heroines, I suddenly remembered Deepika playing Kalpana Dutta in Khelain Hum Jee Jaan Say. Which by all accounts was only an okay movie, but it had two heroines who joined the independence movement and fought for it, one of them committing suicide rather than be captured, as did her male counterparts. And the other managing to escape and fight on. An alternative version of heroines who weren’t exactly perfect powerful warriors, but were out there fighting and doing things along with men.

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 10:28 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  18. Pingback: Padmatavi Trailer Released! – MovieMavenGal

  19. Sorry ,my earlier question was for Siva.
    I find the animalistic manner of eating meat was tossed in ,considering that in India , eating or selling beef is considered reason enough to be murdered. Or the false way the flags are designed to look reminiscent of the pakistani flag… Just disturbing. We can say its nothing ,but let’s look at the way chetan bhagat, turned the Hindu Govt’s decision to ban fireworks in Delhi , to a Muslim -Hindu debate ,is sickening and another way of invoking unnecessary unrest. You go Margaret, I’m not a movie fan, but I like history presented correctly

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    • Yes, exactly, that little moment of eating meat, the prevalence of the green flags (no idea if there is historic precedence for Aluaddin using a green standard, but it seems unlikely), all of that seems to be pointing towards contemporary issues, not past ones. And needlessly so, you could tell the same story and have him use a knife and fork, or have a red colored flag. There is no possible “real” historical account of these tiny details, so why choose this path?

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 12:06 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  20. Thought provocative writing.. honestly i was huge fan of SLB..for creating khamoshi.. hum dil de chuke sanam..and of course..black!!..but lost the momentum in devdas..poor in goliyon ki..n even worse in bajirao mastani… probably he’s stuck between magnificent cinematography n 100 cr business.. that’s why we are missing the magician..!! And yeah..that religious intent popped up somewhere in d trailer..i can just hope..we will see the better SLB version in future

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    • I really wish he would go all the way back to Khamoshi. Stripped down budget, plot based on human characters, not this epic larger than life thing.

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 12:51 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  21. Well I just read through, or tried to read through, this thread and man am I glad I read this post at the end of a looong day. I would have definitely jumped into some of the more unpleasant conversations in here.

    I still don’t understand why people consider the history of multiple Hindu kingdoms of yore that fell inside the subcontinent as the history of Hinduism! Hello, East Asia had Hindu kingdoms too. Why aren’t their histories considered the history of Hinduism? People should REALLY understand what the Union of India was about. Also, allegedly Zbigniew Brzezinski had a plan for further division of India so as an Indian, the rifts emerging within our society on communal and regional lines seem like the plan is working. Oh well, maybe a commie revolution would prevent the breakup. We can only be truly happy when everyone in the country is equally sick of the government!

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    • Yes, but the first few comments are so nice! So if you just read those and then stop, it’s a nice pleasant discussion about how to make the world better.

      Or, you can consider some of the comments as a case study for Said’s style of analysis.

      Or just look at the Said picture and think “yes, that was a handsome handsome man”

      On Tue, Oct 10, 2017 at 1:15 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Completely irrelevant to the movie, but a question for you and anyone who reads this. Excuse my ignorance, but why do people always distrust their government? Why are the govt always villains. I don’t know what people think before they vote or how long they think, but I took one whole month before elections to critically evaluate and come to a decision regarding my vote. I feel responsible for government and its failures are my failures. I might have slipped atleast 10 plans into PMO website after elections.
      Is it some kind of revenge people take because the one they voted for didn’t win?
      I am just curious.

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      • The distrust for the government stems from the fact that democracy is a conspiracy by the globalist elite. Do you blindly trust everything the Congress party did in the past despite knowing the rampant corruption, arrogance of power and violence it resorted to? I don’t know about you but I don’t. So if the elected Congress government could have nefarious and sinister motives, why can’t the elected BJP government?

        Also, do you trust the government of Pakistan? Or China? Do you think they’re doing the best they can for their people?

        Also, you do know that Iraq and Afghanistan were invaded on a false premise by the American government, right? If they can lie, and they did, why should people trust them?

        If distrust in the government is a bad practice then we shouldn’t be mistrustful of the governments of Pakistan, bangladesh, China, North Korea, the US, etc either. That would be hypocrisy.

        Also, I hope you know about the Soviet government. Also, the British government which occupied India was elected by their people too and we fought them.

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        • As an Indian, I think I should trust my government. Regarding other countries, I think we should consider them as actions done by the state itself and not it’s governments. Just because labour party has sympathies for Indian freedom struggle doesn’t make Britain suddenly my friend when Labour party is voted to power.
          I think governments have policies. Policy is an ideology and a general list of details regarding how to approach a matter. Govt policies are often framed not by elected politicians but by educated beaurocrats, after enough considerations. Policies sometimes fail just like physics models do, and they have to be implemented through trial and error approach. I think the corruption you speak of not from corrupted policies or lack of policies, but self contradictory behaviour of the elected representatives in compliance with the policy.
          It seems like you are in the same boat as Aristotle regarding democracy as a corrupt form of aristocracy. So no matter who rules you (no personal blame but a mere pronoun for people around me) will always distrust it. I got the answer and thanks for reply.:-)

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          • I like it that you distinguished state and government when it came to India vs others. India is ruled by bureaucrats. True. Then Modiji shouldn’t get any credits for the work done by bureaucrats either. Or the blame. Neither should Indira. No politician deserves any accolades or blame for anything. Here and elsewhere. 😁

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          • The whole point behind elective form of representation is to let those leaders choose something for the situations. Choices are offered by beaurocrats and situations create problems. However once a choice made, should be stuck to no matter what should be followed. It is this commitment that distinguishes a good politicians from bad. Modiji is great in this respect. He sticks to his choices unlike Rajeev Gandhi who murdered this concept. If politicians do that, the failure, if any, will be not because of lack of will or conviction but because of our inability to adopt ideologies to the time, i.e. estimation of right time for something.
            I think in this scenario, as I claimed, we should trust in who we elect.
            Congress leaders before Modi always changed their choices like they change clothes which reduces the effectiveness of solutions to problems (aka policies).
            I am still not sure who to credit victory in case of war, the soldiers who bleed in war, or the commander who issues orders, or the king who holds all of it together.

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          • But you cannot distrust the government you see. And we also elected the Congress so I guess what you’re saying is we were wrong in not trusting Congress and not electing them again?

            India under Congress had bureaucrats running the country under the same rules and laws as India under NDA and NDA-II. Unless someone changed the constitution every time BJP came to power, that is. Maybe they did and noone told the country?!

            And i totally agree about war victories. Indira Gandhi totally held it together. In fact, the congress held it together for two war victories. Kudos to them. Also, nuclear program originated under Congress. Well done bureaucrats under Congress. Unless, it was the BJP government running the show from the shadows which none of us knew about!! That would be a mind-blowing thing!!! Totally!!

            Also, the school/college you went to probably came into being under Congress too. Unless, there was a shadow BJP government behind it, too!

            But hey, who am I to doubt the government, past or present? That’s the kind of thing voters get to do in a democracy. I should just cast my vote and be patient till the next time an election comes around to put my brain cells into action. Totally!!

            But then again, why should I apply my brain at all? The bureaucrats would be doing all the work anyway! We only need elections to help elect the bureaucrats!!! Of course, it would just be simpler to have an election for the bureaucratic system itself! They’re more qualified anyway. I should have been more thankful to my IAS officer father for running the country and to all the other members of my family currently in the bureaucracy! I had no idea it was them running the show all along. I always kept praising dumbass politicians for public policymaking.

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          • I think policies of Congress grew increasingly irrelevant as times changed from the time it is voted to power. For that we have to blame not party but it’s philosophy as it was not needed. When economy is stagnated and reforms are required we can’t afford to give freebies. Congress chose not to change their policies and none of them showed commitment ; a good leadership is always worth a choice despite 100 rogue elements. It might sound totalitarian in nature but that’s need of the day.
            Congress’ trust worthiness declined not because it did something but because it grew irrelevant. I repeat again that we should trust our govts not parties. Govt has policies, parties have ideologies. Ideologies define approaches and policies sketch out the road maps based on idealogies.

            As I stated in my first post, people are easily upset over not having the one they voted for in power. E.g. They judge and criticize demonetization before it has even produced results. Many economists think it takes atleast 5 years to see it’s results like LPG did.

            I think we are on a different ground here. I guess that you think people should speak out when govt is going out of track. I think, since we elected govt we should go with the govt. People should participate with govt not oppose it. Your version might turn into rule of mob as it is easily witnessed by everyday reports. Mine might turn into a complete totalitarian regime (human trait of power hunger I guess).
            Finally I think decisions taken by govt affect people alike irrespective of who you are. Most of the times people can’t figure out what is good for them, even if they do they are mostly irrational fears for an undetermined future. We should, I think, trust the elected to take us to the goal: we are in it together. If choices are disputable they are to be debated by representatives and beaurocrats not people. People choose during vote time.
            My opinion : if you can’t trust who (person not party) you vote for, please don’t vote.
            I can’t figure out if you are being totally sarcastic or semi sarcastic in your comment so I can’t speak on the specific issues.
            It was nice talking to you for the eloquence of words.

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          • Oh dear, I’m afraid you lost me with your hypocrisy. Btw, and this is a fact, BJP is the only single party majority to get into power with less than 45% of total votes. The BJP got just 31% of the total votes cast.

            This means 69% of all voters DID NOT vote for the BJP. So maybe the anti government expression you see is that 69% of the country being unhappy with a government they didn’t elect. Anywho, I think you’re wrong in criticising the Congress. Because according to your own self, it is wrong to distrust the government. 😁

            I for one, will keep questioning every single government. Because that’s my job as a voter. It’s my responsibility as a citizen.

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          • I am very eager to see where I made hypocritical statements.
            I think government consists of 3 organs : executive, judiciary and legislature. A policy entices all three of them and I trust in all three of them no matter who sits on the chair. Else the whole system is broken.
            Which party sits on the chair encapsulates how government approaches problems i.e. mindset (philosophy). There are forces superior at work than mere governments (allegedly) that generate problems. I am not as short sighted to blame causes of problems on governments.
            I repeat, Congress is a party. Party has an ideology. Ideologies define the approach to problems in the form of policies. With change in party, there will be change in priorities. With the kind of ideologies of Congress, we can’t have it furthering country and hence unsuitable for now. That doesn’t mean it should be disposed of. E.g you can’t spend your money on subsidies when you are in dire need of infrastructure and reforms. Does that mean subsidies are wrong?
            If Congress doesn’t change or modify its ideologies it will fail again. I think experts have stressed this point enough in everyday newspapers.

            Another example : Government is promoting the new industries but isn’t addressing farmer problems enough. I believe it is required to carry on with reforms that restructure the system. Criticizing government for that is useless. It is merely following its policies. I argue we should trust govt with it. If only those policies were bad we will learn them hard way in future. Don’t we?
            Once again, I guess, government you see is people who appear in the news (representatives) and its grievances are everyday news paper reports.

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          • Well “can’t distrust the government” and then presenting arguments to claim Congress government was bad us an example of hypocrisy.

            But I’m glad you didn’t try to justify that 31% of total votes means the current government won by an overwhelming majority.

            And everything you’re describing is the government’s job. Which the Congress also did. So nothing new there. PS, the current government is only renaming existing Congress introduced schemes so LITERALLY they’re not going anything new.

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          • Well, why do you think the current government are renaming or modifying the already existing policies? Because they were right solutions with wrong approach.

            Government is supposed to do nothing more than its job and therefore we should trust it to solve problems.

            I could’ve gone into statistics and asked how many of them actually voted, how diversified are the votes and how many of them actually believe in democracy. It would easily settle the answer. But NO. I don’t have access to data, so I can’t.
            From the beginning I was asking if people are upset with govts because they didn’t vote for the rule or didn’t vote at all ( who didn’t vote at all have no right to criticize).
            “Congress government” means not the whole system. I thought I was clear on that. Any party’s govt doesn’t they fill the ranks of govt. Govt is congregation of a system by people, for people, of people. Congress happens to hold the seat for time being. It is bad nomenclature actually. My bad I should’ve made it more clear.

            Anyway thanks for the completely ambiguous and non contextual arguments (with respect to what is being posted here) we exchanged. I am glad you held your point.
            I would like to conclude this here with pleasantries. 😃

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          • Of course you don’t have access to data. That would require venturing beyond WhatsApp forwards. 😁

            Also glad you could be so specific without presenting facts. That’s always amazing in a discussion.

            😁

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          • I usually don’t have access to data doesn’t mean I didn’t have it at some point of time.
            I know you don’t take enough time to disprove me. Facts are statements on paper that are easily skewed. I have read multiple essays on your so ‘presented facts’. In all of them what matters is chain of reasoning not a statistical figure. If it’s faulty then I am to blame.
            I can say demand is inversely proportional to price. Ask me to supply facts/proofs, I have to ask how can I? I will instead say “disprove me”.
            I don’t know if you understand mathematics analogy but I can’t think of anything else here. there is a concept of root mean square method in statistics that tests a relationship between two quantities with a known setting into sample space of your data. The same method applies here : for extracting the premises/axioms/assumptions of non exact sciences like social sciences, we rely on the mentioned method applied on practical observations building sample space. An argument builds on those constructed premises.
            Any flaws in my logical rehetoric is requested to be exposed. Validity of my premises is well within limits of sample space of observations and exceptions to the considerate examples are already exposed. I don’t know what other “facts” are required to make a chain of argument valid.
            Finally I wanted to stop this from getting more serious and consuming my time searching for that one article/piece of information I can use or expand into. I just wanted an answer for as question and I got it viz. You don’t believe in democracy. That’s fine. My dad doesn’t believe in it too.

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          • Again, no facts. Just vague statements in every direction that miss the point. Instead of trying to explain HOW I’m supposed to understand your point, maybe you should spend more time actually making one.

            Please don’t waste our time if you have no actual points to make. Seriously, it’s annoying.

            Also, I have no interest in whatever your point was now. You have a very annoying way of roundabouting and whatabouting. This entire conversation was a waste of my time. At least P knew what she wanted to say even if she disagreed with me.

            ~thread closed~

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  22. After decennies of enjoying every kind of storytelling, I have the freedom to skip everything where I (intuitively) miss the display of positivity, especially when it comes to the force of love with no blinders whatsoever.
    I did not watch BM because I knew that after the look on love in Dilwale I would be disappointed on the look of love in this movie…I like cinema for its possibilities of gorgeous visuals but I f e e l (or felt) that I would prefer another watch of BenHur than taking a closer look to BM or now Padmavati.

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    • I also procrastinated about seeing Bajirao. I felt like I had to in order to intelligently discuss it, but I wasn’t nearly as excited as I was for Dilwale.

      On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 1:32 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  23. A Well written piece Margaret. You raised a lot of issues, but didn’t conclude them enough. That is acceptable since you are from outside this whole culture of Religious mixture. As far as I know and can guess, most western people, not the ones born recently, are known to have either be religious (Christianity/Jews) or not. Both Christianity and Judaism isn’t mutually exclusive, so they can adjust. On the other hand Hinduism is completely opposite to Abrahamic Religion in many ways. E.g. Idolatry is the core and most visible form of worship while it is prohibited in other religions.
    Philosophy of Indians and their mentality, as I was recently re reading history for the sake of critical analysis, is quite different from that of other civilizations. India and China have huge populations now because they started with huge populations, not because they bred like worms. India, because of its geographical locations and benefactors, are quite gentle, relaxed, peaceful and also inactive in their approach. We can call it ‘not so daring and dashing’, for the sake here. This has been in their way of living from the dawn of civilization. Mother nature has never provided them/forced them harsh climates on them so their behavior and their organizations were more leisure. They developed technology only when they needed it, not because they can do it.

    I say this whole background of philosophy to indicate that, when a foreign force entered India for Conquest, in the form of Greeks, there was a very fruitful relationship like joining of two rivers. Greeks always had similar mentalities. When the second clash came in the form of Muslims, it was not so fruitful. Harsh weathers of middle-east made them opportunists and great conquerors. When finally the technology allowed for a full clash of civilizations, Indians were taken back and felt cheated for various reasons. Because, they had Rules by which they played, and expected others to play by. E.g. They never killed a man from his back or an unarmed man with a weapon. When conquerors didn’t play by rules, they felt cheated, deceived and destroyed.

    More than Religion, which is the fundamental force of Human civilization, it is the sense of morality that overpowers human identity and motivations. Indians felt morality was murdered, and ‘foreigners’ murdered them. As usual anyone who associated themselves with these new rules, or new kinds of ‘morals’, or “lack of rules” thereof are considered as outsiders and bound to receive hatred.
    This sense of morality is very specific and sensitive to the environments and societies it flourishes in. E.g. In a desert if you are soft, you will die if you won’t kill an animal for your shade.

    In the above, the proper word is ‘Values’ not ‘Morals’. That will perhaps explain this better. The sense of such values, thus, propels people to think of anyone who hasn’t got a hang or don’t follow those values as downplayed and hated.

    To them, and I feel it rightly, that it doesn’t matter or not required to take the opposite perspective to look at the same issue or situations. To the society and Human consciousness, what matters is how good is your morality aligned to the morality of the society.
    This is why most Hindus refuse to see Muslims and their conception of God to be false or just not ‘valuable’. It is rightly so, and it doesn’t require a perspective view to appreciate that. However, a clash between two values carried by two different civilizations can and was always settled peacefully by debates and reforms carried out appropriately.
    This whole value clash happened three times in Indian History and all three times, the outsiders were hated more and more each time. It happens to all countries. It happened with the British and it continues to happen. Indian PM continues to speak about these values, and how we are rediscover them and align to them instead of disposing them. There is a broad abstract sense and meaning to it that is actually right – in my opinion. But, when you look at its manifested forms, you will have Gaurakshaks killing for beef, muslims refusing to sing vandemataram etc. Muslims refused to accept these new set of values that contradict their religion, and Hindus don’t consider those values ‘valuable’ enough to be values. Hindus have their point, since ” when you are in Rome behave like a Roman”. Islam has undergone little to no change since it entered India and that is a prime example, whereas Buddhism has undergone humongous transformations as they entered different countries and each took its own unique identity. Note here, I say Islam not Muslims. People adapt to environments around them, but religion doesn’t – especially in case of Islam. From what I have talked to hardcore Hindu Nationals, this is what they say they don’t like.

    Of course, it is no where a justification for Violence and massacre, but the Hindus can’t be blamed for trying to protect their values.

    Some Fact here : You might not have known this, but every Muslim who have ruled India from small king to large emperor, have sent tributes and considered themselves (and their subjects ) as subsidiaries to Ottoman Empire and played appeasement toward it. Their allegiances and their continuous funding was always there, which Indians and Hindus absolutely hated, and I detest it too. I strongly condemn this kind of Economic Assistance to elements outside their homeland from state taxes and public money, just for religious purposes. So, every time there was a siege or a plunder or temple raiding or whatever, the funds somehow reached – or was used for – religious purposes outside country. This has become a common place now, and I detest this Harekrishna movement too.
    I think religion is more than just a belief system. It is not even God. It is a complicated interconnected network of which values play a central role.

    This is long enough already, and I don’t expect you to read it. But, I just wrote what I thought after reading your page. Good work Margaret. Keep it up.

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    • First, if you don’t mind, can you give me the sources where you have read all of this?

      Second, and this is not exactly a response to your comment, but I want to use what you are saying as a case study. This is exactly what Said is arguing against. The concept that people can be neatly categorized, that everything can be explained, that you can come up with a basic catechism and memorize it and stop thinking for yourself. I am not necessarily going to say the conclusions you are repeating are wrong, I just want to indicate that their are alternative interpretations, and many many more facts than this available in the world. And it is important to know that, to know that it is your responsibility to look beyond one perspective, and to think for yourself and bring up your own ideas.

      Christianity versus Judiasm and peacefulness in the West: The West is primarily Christian, yes, but people being what they are, many many different flavors of Christian appeared almost immediately. There have been centuries of warfare between Christians. And the Jews, who you say should be able to adjust to Christianity, have been persecuted horribly through out history. And I say that not, like you are arguing about Islam, because of something that happened hundreds of years ago. I say that because of things that are happening to this day. Islam is of course also an Abrahamic religion. So following your argument, it should also peacefully adjust within Western/predominantly Christian society. That is even less the case. Not that your argument is wholely wrong, but you need to think about your words and make sure that you understand the limitation of your arguments.

      History of Conquest: You argue that Muslims are “harsh” because the struggles of the environment from which they came. First, you are combining together multiple conquerors who have nothing in common besides religion into one argument. The Mughals came from what is now Afghanistan/Pakistan. We have been talking about the Khalji dynasty in this post, they came a few generations back from Turkey, which has a pleasant Mediterranean climate. The Mongols, who were not Muslim but also invaded India, came from the Asian steppes. And the Aryans, who P pointed out were the first violent invaders, also came from the northern regions. You also argue that Islam is naturally a religion of violence because of the region it comes from? In that case, the exact same thing is true of Christianity. Because they come from the same place.

      Not killing from behind: Was not Karna killed from behind? Beyond that, how in the world can you possibly support this claim? Every single culture claims that their warfare was chivalrous and correct and following the rules of warfare. And every single culture is clearly lying. Unless you have a time machine and go back and observe every battle in history, there is no way to support this. I might as easily say “Joshi has never told a lie”. How could I know that? How could I support it? Even if you say this is true, why should I believe you?

      Islam has gone through no change: This is not true. There are wild differences between how Islam is celebrated in different regions of the world. It is a book based religion, that is true, and that is a difference from Hinduism which has few central precepts beyond general concepts. But Islam and Buddhism and Christianity and Mormonism and any other religion with a central book and teaching (so, not certain Native American practices, Shintoism in Japan, Hinduism, and a few others) has evolved as it traveled. For a simple example, which came up with the film Raees, Muslims in India, all Muslims, celebrate Muharram. In most other regions, this is purely a Shiia festival to the point that Sunni’s find it offensive when it is celebrated and therefore the Muharram sequences in Raees had to be edited out for certain areas.

      Sending tribute to the Ottoman’s: I do not know where you heard this fact, but I cannot find any support for it anywhere. The Ottoman Empire was in decline at the time that the Mughal Empire was on the rise. Nowhere can I find any evidence that the Mughal Empire was a vassal state of the Ottoman’s.

      You mention at the end that you learned some of this from hardcore Hindu nationalists. I hope you realize that they have an obvious agenda in all they say? You yourself describe them as “Hindu nationalists”. Therefore, they will want to make Hinduism appear good at the expense of other religions. And so, yes, they tell lies. It is up to you to judge whether or not everything they are telling you is a truth, a whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Especially if you are then going to repeat it on a public forum such as this.

      If I were to tell you “the entire internet no longer exists, you can only come to my website from now on”, would you believe me, or would you take 5 seconds to find proof of that claim?

      And one final question for you, if you believe all of these things to be true, do you think Muslims have the right to live in India, or are they a basic danger to the nation? More than that, are they a basic danger anywhere in the world? Should this religion be removed from society for our own safety?

      On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 8:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • About values ? I read books on philosophy. To be precise a TMS lecture that goes by ” Ethics a history of moral thought” and ” discover philosopher in you”. About linking the concepts of societal values and religion, it was my perception.

        It was not primarily Mughals who did it to ottomon empire, it was Afghans and Turks who did it. Indians and Hindus liked Akbar. Ottomon empire was the holy Roman Empire for Muslims. It was together called Islamic caliphate whose chronology now ISIS terrorists use and have used in their maps of Islamic world.

        The difference in Islam across the regions is quite less. I am desperately trying to find the article I read that states that. Not a word of either Vedas or Quran was changed but how they dominate religion has drastic difference in both religions.

        My whole post, though only half, was explaining the solution to the problem which I thought you would conclude ” Us vs them” become “we”, when we have a common ground to play with. That common ground doesn’t lie in summaries of religions or “love each other”, speeches. It lies in our semi subconscious thoughts of identity based on values we share. When Hindus and Muslims can agree to same subconscious values of existence they become a peaceful society.

        I state it again, religion is much more than books and beliefs. It has values that are extremely specific.

        Answer to final question : everybody has right to live anywhere on earth. At the same time anyone can fight anyone on this earth, God gave us that freedom, for whatever thing they believe in. From the Quran I read, it has been specifically mentioned to loot caravans with Muhammad leading the picture. Muhammed married and impregnated his niece. Was it right or wrong can’t be judged by our values. Similarly they can’t bring and live by their values at a different place and don’t expect clashes. Either they change their values or they leave the place. Just ask yourself how comfortable would you be if placed under a Sharia law, or placed under a Christian theocracy. Which one would you think would be more relevant and applicable (comfortable?!?) to you and why?

        Regarding Hindu Nationalists : I think lies can’t stand without some backbone of truth. There is some element of truth behind their agendas and I presented them to you from my point of view. Of course I heard heavily sugar coated versions of them and I am sensible enough to listen and strip of the flesh of it.

        I think you missed the whole point of this tangled in intricate details or that I haven’t made myself concrete and simple enough. I was not at all justifying any wrongdoing but merely suggesting that perspectives don’t give you results or solutions. They only give you patience and temporary truce.
        Suppose if I do understand about them, then what? Is it going to stop me? May be for sometime or my lifetime but for how long? History have taught us religious clashes have happened all the time. But the thing will rise again in some other form. Only solution is assimilation, which is founded on values. How do you think Aryans vs Dravidian clash settled down? Assimilation ! The major factor for it is what I have been discussing.
        When water and oil are in dissimilar proportions the solution is to demarcate them, like Parsis and Jews of India, or assimilate them like Buddhists, jainists of india.

        I agree I shouldn’t have given example of Christianity/Judaism, they were restricted and misleading.

        Finally about alternate interpretations and perspectives : I don’t think you know about Aadi Shankara, the guru who proposed Advaita Vedanta. He was born in Kerala very close to a Jewish community. He had debates with Christians, Muslims and almost every religion that was there at the time. (Matter of fact, Jews first came to India during king Solomon times, aka lost tribes of Israel, and lived in India for two millennia. Christianity came to India before it crossed Mediterranean and so did Islam before it went to Egypt.) Debates were held and he defeated them all. So they either found exclusion for themselves or tried to change their values (Kerala Judaism is so weird).

        Once more I repeat that religion is much beyond its practices. It’s a thought. Two ideas should have a common correspondence ( I can only think of mathematics example here of geometry and algebra) to be without exhaustion. For that they need a higher level of abstraction from what they already exist. For two different religions the abstractions should be on values and correspondence. Until then there will be no solution, and switching sides with multiple angles of perspective is going to do nothing except temporary truce. My intention is never temporary truce, it is of permanent solution.
        Just one question to you : How do you think Hindus and Muslims can coexist? By visiting each other’s place of worship, staying ignorant of each other without any contact, or just blaming someone for inciting hatred for each other and calling for peace? How can it guarantee future peace?
        Another example of shades of grey. There are different shades of grey as there are different perspectives but they hold their value only under a scale of white AND black.
        My opinion is that (I am not truly convinced myself on this) :
        Blame is on Islam as they have barely moved beyond their book in abstraction and Hindus have already taken multiple levels of abstraction already.

        Final example : simple abstraction of western secularism, of mutually exclusive nature of religion and state, is a higher and greater value upon which both state and religion coexist.

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        • Thank you for explaining yourself further. I am glad to see, primarily, that you are not truly convinced of anything yet. That is the most important thing, to always question assumptions and keep thinking.

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          • This hindu nationalist narrative is the only narrative that exists on Islam that doesn’t completely whitewash the various Islamic invasions. Which is why it is imperative to tell the truth- the rational, unvarnished truth. That will give people an alternative to rabid Hindutva without feeling that the truth is being left out to appease a set of people who (justifiably or not) feel unsafe in a country where their religion is not the majority population (despite having the second largest Islamic population in the world Muslims are only 16% of Indias demographic).

            The same Rajputs portrayed in Padmavati as the victims were descendants of the oppressor Aryans who invaded the subcontinent, bringing horses and destruction with them.

            The same people who consider Rani Padmini the honor of Rajputs also think of the Sinhalese and Sri Lankans or even South Indians as demonic dark creatures who have no beauty or culture to speak of.

            The same people wouldn’t mind that the waste from Rani Padmini’s kingdom was probably carried outside by people who were forced to do that job BY the accident of birth.

            And this is called out all the time.

            I think its time we call out the barbarism of the Islamic rulers too (wherever it might be true) and SLB is doing just that.

            Each and every one of us comes from barbarian caveman stock. We readily acknowledge the brutality of Christianity, even Judaism, Hinduism and now even Buddhism (their depravity vis a vis the Rohingya in Myanmar) but we refuse to say what has to be said about Islam.

            From the Zoroastarians, to the Persians, to the pagans, to the Hindus, there have been many victims. Its time they are acknowledged.

            History is brutal and ugly and constantly letting “one side” have a free pass on their history and past is what has led to the election of Modi and Trump out of sheer spite.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Another fun fact: since the start of this century alone, close to 2 million Muslims have been killed by non-Muslim invaders. But muslims can never be victims (blame the European Christian education for this). Facts are facts. Also fact: the big bad barbaric Muslims couldn’t do much damage in Europe where they met stronger armies who held their forts so they turned to the subcontinent where the armies weren’t as strong.

            Later, cute white Christians came with bouquets and chocolates and gave everyone millions of bucks and nice things.

            Actually they didn’t. But nobody HATES what the white people did less than and hundred and fifty years ago because the white people let us sit at their table after they were done with us. So we’re grateful to the white people and we don’t call them barbarians. Instead, the white people tell us who to hate (Muslims) and we hate them right on cue. Divide and rule was it? Well it’s working. Meanwhile, nazism is finding new adherents in Europe and the US, but let’s not worry about that till we’re told by white people that’s a bad thing for us brown people.

            History and social narrative has been whitewashed by the white imperialists and the white globalists that came after them. White people don’t get as much hatred for the crimes of imperialists as Muslims do for Muslim invaders from half a millennium ago. WHY???

            PROPAGANDA! that’s why! And look at all the brown people hating on other brown people and leaving the white people alone. Maybe the white imperialists really understood our idiocy real well. Maybe they were right when they called us incapable of rational thought.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I have a preference for the British because my ancestors are tribals and we’re given education for the first time by the Brits. Until then it was all molten oil in your ears if you even hear the Vedas by mistake.

            But hey I’m probably the Indian version of a house bigger to you because I happen to have that preference. Lol. All cool with me. Not something I haven’t heard before.

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          • Seeing as how i’m a pasi by caste, shoodra according to the caste system, I’m not really one to uphold the values of upper caste hindu propaganda. That said, I don’t really care for your personal preferences seeing as how they won’t change the fact that white people have been terrible to brown people all around including i’m sure your ancestors unless there was some special provision made for your tribe which allowed you to marry into white christian British families and they treated members of your tribe as one of their own.

            Unless that happened, the British probably counted your tribe amongst Indians and not one of their own. But hey, you’re free to love your oppressor and hate your brown neighbor of another religion who also got oppressed by the same white guy. We’re a free country. Mostly.

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          • I don’t hate anyone. I never professed to hate anyone based on what some random ancestor did a zillion years ago.
            I do judge those who propagate the caste system in free India and propagate ideas of untouchability in which tribals and Muslims are treated as equally horrendous because of our beef eating habits. I am an atheist. To me all religions suck. I’m an equal opportunity offender.

            Believe it or not none of us were converted or married white people and yet they happened to respect my great grandfather and his family. Even made him high court judge of madras presidency with the authority to judge criminals of both white and brown colours. Who would’ve thunk? 😊 maybe that’s no big deal for most people but we were not used to being given such respect and posts(that too with no bribery!) so it meant a lot.

            The British were a cantankerous people who could be benign or cruel based on any random ideal just like all the invaders who came before them. I have a preference for those who were good to my family and because of whom I can even converse with you guys and you have other preferences. All equally fair and valid 😊

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          • So you’re grateful? Because your family was not used to being respected by anyone? So technically, you could be nice to the Nazis if Hitler gave you respect? I’m not sure if I should be sad or scared of you.

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          • I’m not grateful to anyone. I like one more than the other. That’s it. Simple.

            As to being nice to the Nazis cause Hitler gave them respect you should ask that question to fans of Subhash Chandra Bose.

            Thank you for your sadness and fear on my behalf. It’s very sweet of you.

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          • Well technically, Hitler was a British agent carrying out Jewish genocide on behalf of Wall Street and the Crown and he was created to counter the rise of the Reds. Thanks to the Holocaust, Wall Street and the Crown got to “legally” displace muslim natives in the Arab world and get a foot in on the whole oil game. Which is what they wanted from the overthrow of Tsar Nick anyway but the Reds developed a brain of their own and turned on their masters. Operation Paperclip neatly installed Nazis into NASA and Hitler got to live happily ever after in Argentina. Maybe that’s what Bose wanted too. He didn’t speak on behalf of the entire India anyway.

            I’m more of a socialist at heart. I’d be a monarchist if we had a good king to rally behind.

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          • The article on difference in Islam across regions is made by Terence Allen as a collection in a book named “Raw Intelligence”.
            The claim about tributes sent to ottomon empire and Islamic caliphate is in a textbook material on history of India written for an undergraduate course by professors of history department, Osmania University. I am holding the book with those precise sentences in my hand while I am typing this.
            Also, this might anger you, but please don’t ask for proofs all the time. This is not a research journal or a Wikipedia entry. Readers have to verify them if they are so interested and are doubtful of the claims made by commentators. Or request commentators to furnish proofs for exactly what they want. Comments are opinions and not proven facts. We don’t start with facts, we come to conclusions which will then become facts. Because, unlike most people think, a very few statements are inductive truths. Most of the statements are deductive.
            Its foolishness on part of readers if they assume comments as facts and plan to build on them.
            This is your blog : If you are offended by this ask me to leave politely.

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          • Thank you very much for providing additional information. Please don’t see my request as for “proof” (there can be no proof in these discussions, just additional information) but rather for “sources”. You said things that were different from what I had always been taught, I wanted to learn more to help decide if I should change my view of the world, and I appreciate your willingness to help with that.

            On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 5:38 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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            Liked by 1 person

          • “Hitler was a British agent carrying out Jewish genocide on behalf of Wall Street and the Crown and he was created to counter the rise of the Reds.”

            I am amazed that you are letting such conspiracy theory stand here @margaret. How is this different to the abhorrent items the other guy said ?

            Liked by 1 person

      • Fun fact about the “Aryan invasion”: almost everything about Hinduism stems from northern Indian pagan faith. Gods? Almost all are pale skinned and have their primary “homes” in the north! Heck, they even found a Vishnu statue in Russia so maybe Hinduism spread beyond it’s known borders and we just don’t know about it yet.

        You see, the aryan invasion wasn’t so much an invasion as a route discovered to the subcontinent which prompted pre-slavic tribes from eastern Europe to seek literal greener pastures. If they “invaded” north India, they also brought culture and language back and forth which is why modern Russian language is less European and more subcontinental. We have spoken about chromosomal studies before and the widely accepted theory is that the matrilineal DNA across demographic groups across India didn’t differ significantly to prove the “invasion” theory I.e., a whole bunch of white people from Europe didn’t descend onto the north of India and they didn’t displace the existing population. Rather, the settlers preferred to marry local women and made mixed race babies for centuries. So it wasn’t so much an invasion as a gradual settlement. Like Indians in the Caribbean. They have their own culture now since they married locals.

        Since the north of india is connected to more northern territories, of course the inter mixing of races was higher than it was in the peninsula. And of course the region saw more attacks and “foreign rulers” than the peninsula which was guarded by natural boundaries. Also, if belonging to a foreign culture gives you no right to call yourself local despite being born and raised in a place, it means all those racists telling NRIs to eff off are RIGHT! Think about that!

        I absolutely detest the notion that Hinduism is a religion. It isn’t. It’s a philosophy. There are multiple mythological accounts for all accepted major and minor deities so it isn’t like someone agreed on what this religion was about and sent forth missionaries to propagate the new religion. and most of the literature on the matter comes from the aryans too. So the “invaders” established the religion which is followed blindly by people across cultures in the subcontinent and nobody knows what the pre-hindu religion of the land was. (that’s actually controversial because a competing theory suggests the first settlers of the Indian south were pagan and hence they could have “discovered” pre-hinduism so technically the aryans could just be white settlers who married local and adopted the local religion)

        Curiously, Hinduism exists even in cultures where no aryan invasion took place like East Asia. I find it completely amazing that nobody claims north Indian Hindus “invaded” East Asia and shoved their religion down people’s throats there.

        A lot of the strong sentiment within the Hindu community stems from the feeling of being emasculated. Since the first Islamic raiders came, Hindu kingdoms failed to regain lost territories. Had those Islamic rulers been real assholes, there wouldn’t be any Hinduism left. But after a point, they didn’t care who worshipped what God as long as the land was worth defending.

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        • Just a random thought on your final point. The “Christian” invasion of Europe was clearly much more brutal, since Druids and similar religions with a history as long as Hinduism have all but disappeared in the modern era, with the only remnants being elements like Christmas trees, or Easter eggs.

          On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 11:52 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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          • Precisely. Both Christianity and Islam “spread” just as aggressively as one another. They even clashed at one point. And both had expansionist plans in terms of India and both failed to eliminate Hinduism despite the loooong Islamic reign and the relatively short but expansive Christian reign.

            And it isn’t just because there are too many Hindus either. It’s probably because it’s impossible to replace the cultural events and the agrarian nature of our culture. Of course the polytheism only helps. Hindus probably looked at Christ and Allah as one of the gods and since we have so many already we probably figured what’s the harm in bowing your head to one more. Spiritual insurance, in a way. 😁

            Liked by 1 person

        • “Fun fact about the “Aryan invasion”: almost everything about Hinduism stems from northern Indian pagan faith. Gods? Almost all are pale skinned and have their primary “homes” in the north!”

          Not true. Krishna, Vishnu, Rama, Shiva are all “blue” a euphimism for dark. Many idols of Krishna even in Gujarat are black. Krishna is referred to as Shyam- meaning dark.

          Kali is black, Saraswati is blue. Lakshmi is pale I give you that. Brahma is fair too.

          They have their homes in the north but that doesn’t prove they are aryan.

          Proto-Hinduism existed before the Aryans ever set foot in India/East Asia.

          The East Asian Hindu gods (like they are seem in say the Samudra Manthan frieze in Bangkok airport) look NOTHING like the north indian white versions of the gods.

          I do support the theory that the proto-hindu gods were co-opted with the gods that the Aryans believed in (Air, Wind Water etc) and there was lot of intermixing, but there was certainly a huge push to create the caste system of darker/lower people. The Aryans continued being the warriors and the preists and the merchants and left the rest of the tasks to the menials. Reinforcing their lower status through genetics and forcing this psychological inferiority upon them through various means. Meaning no matter what you did there was no “out” card for casteism.

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          • Umm have to disagree a little about “Christianity had expansionist plans in terms of India.” Certainly the the European conquerors and the missionaries who came later had such an idea in mind.But Christianity had flourished in Kerala for centuries before that and with no intention of expanding anywhere else.Vasco da gama’s intention was to use the Indian Christians to push out the Arabs from their favored as position as the No.1 trade partner.He gave a long spiel about it being the Pope’s wish to push out the infidels.Upon which the native Christians asked “Excuse me,but who’s the Pope?”

            Needless to say the native Christians were very cruelly treated by the Portuguese and the English weren’t a whole lot better.But I have to agree about Hinduism adopting Christianity as part of itself.What’s one more even you have a million gods already?Hinduism is like water constantly changing itself to adapt to new circumstances. Religion used to be very fluid in Kerala with much visiting each other’s places of worship and festivals.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I said that because the missionaries aggressively targeted the tribal populations that were not adherents of any faith. The modus operandi was effectively what it was for the African colonies. If you’re the same religion as your imperial master, the imperial master can tell you what God intended for you. Simple.

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          • This is a misinterpretation. There are no studies that prove that the aryans created the caste system. Because if that were true it would be found in the cultures that came from the same people too ie eastern European and Russian cultures. The absence of a rigid caste system in non subcontinental Hinduism is indicative of it being a local phenomenon which proves that it isn’t anything to do with religion but rather it is a local thing.

            Another fun fact. The dalits of India are related by DNA to the Roma/gypsy people and there’s a theory that they may have been driven out of India and they spread into Europe later. The group is treated as an outsider viz society even in Europe/West which is all kinda of interesting

            Back to the aryans and the caste system.

            Yes krishna literally means dark. Rama, again a vishnu avatar, is dark but his brother and rest of his family isn’t dark at all. Shiv in the Shiv purana is pale and sati is extremely dark. He is described as dark only after he loses it after sati’s death.

            Proto Hindu gods, I don’t know what the oldest independent civilization in the south of India was but the oldest known one in the subcontinent is the industry Valley civilization which had the Pashupati believed to be Shiv.

            In the absence of any known strong independent civilizations from the south, it can only be assumed the dravidians came from the north (the migration out of Africa couldn’t have taken the sea route), found the edge of the subcontinent, soke settled there and some went back north, at some point they had contact with another set of former migrants that had gone to Europe and the northern branch mixed with the European branch and later the pre-Islamic Arabian tribes joined in and also far easterns and at some point recorded history came in and gave people one side of the story and in the past century, competing stories have been used by political parties for their own ends. Because lets face it, Kings had no use for such stories because they were kings and didn’t need the masses distracted to win elections.

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          • Aryan=/=hinduism. So how Hinduism and society developed in Thailand and Indonesia or anywhere else in south east Asia where the aryans did not go is a completely different matter.

            I will bow out of the rest of this argument. Good day.

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          • Right indeed. All I’m saying is that it’s not a coincidence that hrithik Roshan looks like Bradley cooper.

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          • Hrithik Roshan probably looks like a whole lot of other celebrities that aren’t white but maybe we just don’t know about them. Anywho, I don’t have an inferiority complex about my ethnicity or my dark color or my community belonging to the lowest caste. So maybe I’m having a hard time actually getting you. I’m sure we’re saying the same thing in different words though. Probably. Right?

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          • Ah of course. My support of the Aryan invasion theory must mean I have an inferiority complex about how I look.

            Have a good day lady 😊

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          • No, I thought that when you said you were grateful to the British for giving your tribe an education and allowing your granddad to be a judge.

            And a good day to you too, dear. 🙂

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          • Do not misstate me. I never used the word grateful. I said of all the invaders in India if I had to plight my troth with someone it would be the British. Period.

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  24. Pingback: Don’t Forget You Can Contact Me | dontcallitbollywood

  25. Thank you for clarifying that imposing, on people that seek to comment in this section, the burden to provide “sources of information” (in order to understand the validity of their comment) is acceptable, but seeking precision in the definition of words (another technique to understand the validity of comments) to be used the same comment section is not.

    A noticeable part of the trailer review was a discussion of bias towards or against certain values, moral-acceptable, morally non-acceptable or otherwise, and (relatedly) the exercise of speech in this comment section assists in the revelation of biases, some of which were unacceptable enough that at least one writer has been prevented from making comments in the future.

    To claim that this writer “denigrated” someone, in this comment section, without relevant evidence to support that claim is sufficient for this writer to not bother to write here again, given the lack of an explicit written response by the proprietor of this digital publication to call out at least one person who clearly insinuates in this comment section that this writer behaved badly (by “denigrating” someone), without presenting relevant evidence.

    Also, I thank the publisher of this website for revealing what biases are acceptable and what are not in terms of preventing a writer to continue commenting on this website, through the choice to prevent one biased writer (the person claiming that ‘there is problem with Muslims’) to communicate but another to continue writing (the person that claimed, without evidence, that this writer “denigrated” someone) .

    This, in the larger scheme of things, is not a loss of any kind, as it is one person on a planet that has in excess of seven billion that has chosen not to write here via the requested disclosure of this comment. There is no way this decision will materially affect a previously stated intent of this website’s publisher from generally increasing viewership traffic towards this website.

    Regards, thank you for your work and thank you to other comment-makers, including at least one person that on one occasion said some polite words directed specifically towards this writer.

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    • Thank you for providing such a lengthy comment.

      The only thing I feel the need to respond to is, again, to draw a line in the sand. What the commenter who is now banned revealed was not a “bias”. And to describe it as such is to contribute to a false view of the world.

      It was a revelation of dangerous prejudice, hatred, towards billions of people living in the world today merely because of the religion they follow. That is not, and will never be, acceptable here. I say this not to you, but to anyone else who may happen to read this comment exchange so they understand what is and is not acceptable. A discussion of different religious faiths and histories (such as other commentators have done here), that is fine. Sweeping statements of hatred, that is not. There is no appropriate response to that beyond calling it out and rejecting it.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. I don’t think I should write this but something compels me to.
    I saw the whole mess that happened with the ‘person in question’. I don’t own this site so it’s not my rules. But I think he was just commenting. Comments are by definition opinions and opinions doesn’t need any proofs other than your inner self.
    Claims are something to be backed up by proofs. Something is proven only when it’s validity is established by solid reasoning leading, in a chain of causes, all the way either to agreed premises of argument, or to inherent axioms of truth.
    In this premise, the person hadn’t claimed truths : he was commenting, which could mean they are his fantasies or narrow and shallow ignorance. As most claim ( and I don’t) that we can allow ignorance to prevail than have freedom of speech curtailed. If author felt it was derogatory, non contextual or instigative in nature I extend my support. However if isn’t or if it simply is a false claim, then it truly indicates not the violation of free speech (but not invalidity of claims) made by the person. Under the assumption that author is pro-free speech I would like to bring to notice of author that there happened an unlawful activity here.

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    • Not completely sure which comment or action you are referring to. But if you are referring to my ban of a certain commentator, it is because I found his remarks instigative and dangerous. I purposefully called them out in that way so that people reading would question their assumption that such comments and thoughts are acceptable human behavior. They are not. They are clear purposeful ignorance in order to support unreasoned hate.

      But every other comment on this post, including your own, I do find acceptable discussion.

      On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 1:39 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I have insufficient evidence of what happened in posts other than those visible. But to me it looks like a simple case of logical fallacy of hasty generalization. It could’ve been disproven easily. I personally think it was copied from somewhere as I already saw the same comments on other forums, especially comments section of TOI. It was fuelled by dual intentions of over enthusiastic participation coupled with a little negligence, and a case of unwanted pride. Since I don’t see any abuses or ugly spats making personal attacks on people, it can’t be instigative. He tried to bring to notice of people a wrong conclusion. Disproving it is easy and will prove his assumptions false rather than shutting him. I have disproved people like him in countless occassions.
        (If you are expecting perfect reasoning from people then I am afraid I have to secretly count my days here).
        Of course, If you truly think it is dangerous I am no one to interfere since I have no knowledge of his past conversations.

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        • I left the entire exchange in place in order to serve as an example. There is nothing additional you need to know.

          On Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 2:34 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  27. Brilliant. Just absolutely brilliant! It’s one of the major reasons why I am still so hesitant because of the whole cultural and historical aspects. It’s very tricky doing historical dramas. At the same time, I get it’s pretty, though.

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  28. I want to applaud the way discussion unfolded…in any way, it was a read I enjoyed also in hindsight of having already encountered some of the commenters in other circumstances.

    I belong to a species that has no religious preference but isn’t atheist or agnostic either. Basically I can relate to every religion or belief because they are human inventions based on words either transmitted only verbally or verbally-written down. Some of those beliefs have gotten shaped and fixed for personal or communal interests. Still they are made by humans and humans have prouved that they were and are as much ‘right’ as they are ‘wrong’. So, in my opinion, when it comes to human behaviour, the discussion should not be about belief-systems but about values (I think, Joshi wrote about this subject)…and without any exception about personal values (which sadly isn’t an easy thing as people have a feeling for the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ of their values and tend to find reasons to make the ‘wrong’ ‘right’ and vice versa because of – again – personal reasons). I listen to everybody but I think I would try to get back to the basic values every time a person uses a kind of stamp.
    What are the basic human values. I think, they cater to the basic needs. Margaret enumerated them… in short: getting satisfied in terms of physical and emotional needs. The only problem: humans got the ability to choose…the level of satisfaction, the way to get satsified, the decision to act in a self-centred way or in a communal/social way. Nothing I read in the comments here (or – for that matter – elsewhere) contradicts this premise of humanity/human nature/ being human/mankind etc.

    I believe in forces…in positive ones and in negative ones. I think that an autist like Rizwan asked the right questions and his mother gave an answer that refers to the bacis values: when a person does ‘good’ , it is (at least in that specific situation) a ‘good’ person (and vice versa). The definition of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for Rizwan was based on logic and his own experiences, but mostly on a very simple logic that focused on the acting of a person and not the thinking. A ‘good’ acting person can have whatever negative thoughts, that does not count at the very moment, a ‘bad’ acting person can have reasons ignored, it is a ‘bad’ person at the very moment. Rizwan has no twisted thinking, he takes human behaviour at face value. In reverse, it makes me think of the Hannibal Lecter movie with Ralph Fiennes where the blind woman gets positive actions out of that twisted man because that man is able to convey positivity that others simply don’t ‘see’.

    Why do I write this her? It’s a movie trailer and Margaret’s take on it that opened the discussion. It is a proof that personal perceptions (wherever and however they got formed) are responsible for the reception. I did not see any religious or historical aspect, I only saw some focus on certain human behaviour which gave me an uneasy feeling of ‘too much negativity’. And I am a person that doesn’t choose negativity when I can avoid it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. I am really not qualified to comment on the historical, cultural, and political discussions in this thread, but as an anthropologist who has been practicing in international development for decades, I do feel qualified to warn of the dangers of generalizing groups based on “values” (whether held under the guise of religion, culture, geography, or other) and then positing whether or not those “values” are compatible with other groups. Anthropology, especially American and British anthro, has a shameful, ongoing history of being co-opted by States, with anthropological findings twisted, weaponized, and used as propaganda or justification for oppressive policies. Project Camelot during the Vietnam War is a well documented example. Here is a great article summarizing some important books on this shameful history: https://www.haujournal.org/index.php/hau/article/view/hau6.2.024/2478

    Values and culture are not fixed and permanent things, and they are constantly shifting–we are shaped by our culture but also continually create it. Like rocks in a stream, we are shaped by the stream but we also change it’s course. It’s a logical fallacy to “blame” or “credit” real-life actions on values and culture, because it is those cumulative actions that create values and culture.

    I think that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva convention are the closest things to a just code by which to judge human interactions (person to person, community to community, State to Citizens, and State to State). The fact that most countries have signed on to them (regardless of how they do or don’t live up to them) supports that. Still, they are flawed–focusing too much on individual rights and not enough on collective rights, and focusing too much on civil rights and not enough on economic rights are a couple criticisms I’ve heard, including from South Asian thinkers like Amartya Sen and Vandana Shiva.

    I’d be really interested to hear what others think about the UDHR, and the UN in general as a super-national cooperation and justice mechanism.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Please correct me if I got any of this “wrong”:

    1. Since the 1950s, american conspiracy theorists alleged the government was listening to their phonecalls. Edward Snowden came up with the evidence to prove the “conspiracy theory” correct.
    2. Conspiracy theorists claimed Hitler did not die in the bunker and was alive in South America. A CIA document declassified this year contains report of such a sighting.

    https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/HITLER%2C%20ADOLF_0005.pdf

    3. Conspiracy theorists claimed the american government recruited Nazis post-WWII in various spheres. Also proven later and the name of the operation was disclosed as being Operation Paperclip.

    4. If Hitler did not die in the bunker, the official narrative in history books isn’t accurate. Which means other popular narratives can be reexamined too and in retrospect, certain “theories” may be obtained. Maybe, there are documents confirming other “conspiracy theories” but they just aren’t declassified as of now.

    I like facts. I also know no facts are absolute at least in terms of recent history since a lot of it is classified.

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  31. i was ready to believe it was a hindu vs muslim film but considering the fact that the film is based on poem ‘Padmavat’ which was written in 16th century at the peak of Mughal rule in India and that too, by a muslim poet… i am ready to let it go.

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  32. Hi Margaret. I respect your opinion. I understand your perspective. Since you invited viewers for a discussion, I want to provide my perspective.

    Full disclosure: I am from Madikeri in South India where Tipu Sultan (a revered Indian king), by his own admission, attacked the Hindus and forced them to convert to Islam and massacred them brutally when they rejected.

    I have a few major issues with what you have written here.

    1) Alauddin Khilji was not just a man. He was a bad man. Let me explain this by an example of three kings namely Alauddin Khilji, Sri Krishnadevaraya and Akbar, all from Medieval India. Alauddin Khilji was bad because he persecuted and over-taxed the “others” namely Shia Muslims and Hindus. Sri Krishnadevaraya was just a man because, being a Sri Vaishnava, he did not persecute or over-tax the “others” namely Muslims and Shaivite Hindus but he did not patronize them either. He used all his wealth to patronize Sri Vaishnavism alone. Jalaluddin Mohammad Akbar, on the other hand, was a great man because he not only removed over-taxation and persecution of “others” that persisted before him but also patronized the others namely, Sufis, Shias, Hindus and Christians. Here, I am not judging any of the three by their religion or sect but by their qualities and actions. This is important because I am a Sri Vaishnava myself.

    2) Your description of Khilji matches the description of Aurangzeb by Audrey Truschke. She says calling Aurangzeb is a consequence of Islamophobia. I vehemently disagree that criticizing barbaric kings like Khilji or Aurangzeb who gave in to brutal violence against innocent people is equivalent to calling all Muslims are evil. There was a king Hemu at the time of Akbar who destroyed temples and mosques alike for personal gain and called himself Vikramaditya, an eminent ancient Hindu king, because he was one of the few Hindu rulers successful during the time of Islamic invasion. What Hemu did was appalling and I am glad Akbar defeated him. If any Hindu tells me that calling Hemu evil is some sort of Hinduphobia, I will call that Hindu a fanatic or a fool. There were Maratha generals, successors of Shivaji and Bajirao, who attacked Bengal ruled by Nawab and looted and murdered innocent people, mostly Muslims, and these generals are evil too and any Hindu who defends them as avengers of Muslim attacks is a fool because killing innocent people is no way to take revenge. Both Khilji’s and Aurangzeb’s committed horrific mass persecutions have been recorded by many third party observers (European and Chinese visitors) and based on this, it would be childish to call them just men.

    ——–to be continued——–

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  33. 4) Comparing what white people did with African Americans to what Hindus did with Muslims is just unacceptable. Throughout the Islamic invasion, it was Muslim kings who destroyed temples, killed innocent people for refusing to convert and destroyed several great places like Nalanda University etc. They were indiscriminate in whom to attack. They were mostly Sunnis and killed any non-Sunni. They killed Buddhists and destroyed Buddhism almost completely. They could not do the same for Hindus only due to sheer numbers. Some Shias like Nader Shah of Iran were also involved in such violence. Even if there were retaliatory attacks from Hindus, they fade in comparison. Attacks on Muslims by Hindus are more significant post the independence and partition era and I unequivocally condemn the barbaric Hindus who perpetrated such attacks and those who supported them. African Americans (most of them) were victims and white people (most of them) were aggressors in past and some white people (not all) are aggressors and average African Americans are victims in present. Muslims kings (not all Muslims) were aggressors in the past and average Hindus and other non-Muslims were victims in the past but now fanatic Hindus (not all Hindus) are aggressors and average Muslims are victims. The two situations in India and USA cannot be compared.

    5) Why do you assume Padmini (not Padmavati) died for her husband? Are you equating Sati and Jauhar? They are not the same. Jauhar is part of a mass glorified suicide. In medieval times, when Rajput forts were attacked and outnumbered, as a last resort, the men go for a suicide last fight where they fight to death in an outnumbered battle and the women jump in fire and self-immolate. Sati was a horrific practice that does not belong to a civilized society like witch burning in Europe and was outlawed in the 1700s thankfully. However, Jouhar is a way of escaping the horrific circumstances the attackers people would put through the women . The only criticism I have of Jouhar is that the Kshatriya women by tradition have to be trained in warfare so that they can die on battle field like their husbands. The self-immolation is a medieval practice when women were not taught warfare because of patriarchy. That is why Padmini cannot be compared to Lakshmi Bai who was trained and could defend herself against armed men.

    —-to be continued—–

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  34. Just want to say that your vision on female equality is ‘feminine becoming masculine’. Sadly this seems to be this generation’s idea of gender equality. Feminine and masculine exits in nature(it exits in both sexes in varied degree) and has its profound purpose.

    There is no point in writing anything more, its very much evident that you have subjected yourself to be brainwashed by lot of silly ideas that lead to your conclusions, on culture, sexes and many many aspects.

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