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The Politics of Protest

Friday, February 17, 2017
By Cyrus Dastur

Playing politics and protesting just about everything I guess are two sides of the same coin. If you’re not protesting loud enough to bring cities and their people to a grinding halt, no matter how stupid and shallow the issue, then you lack the qualities of a good ‘leader’. But when prominent citizens who’re supposed to be the last citadel of integrity play exactly the same game, then it makes you think and worry. And the recent Chennai protests for Jallikkatu prove exactly that. While everyone from RJ Balaji to actors like Simbu and Surya jumped at the opportunity to show their undying “love” for Tamil culture by crucifying a helpless animal, where have they disappeared now when the state and the people of Tamil Nadu are in a bigger mess because of the political deadlock? Isn’t this a more justifiable occasion to lead a protest and show what people’s power really means?

But wait, animals are speechless and can’t hold press conferences so a one way debate is always a winning bet! Or perhaps the vanity, dignity and the nautanki of upholding cultural values have evaporated when a protest is actually needed. Infuriating as it may sound, this fair-weathered selectiveness is deeply ingrained within us. Indians protested when Maria Sharapova said she didn’t know who Sachin Tendulkar was, bullying her with the famous Indian trolls (this is how we shut up anyone who makes sense) but how many of us know of a Sita Sahu who won the double Special Olympics medal for India and today is selling Pani Puri because of the lack of apathy towards her?

The truth is the people who protest conveniently select issues which can stir up raw emotions and which add to their personal branding. And anyways, when the noise gets louder who cares what you speak as long as you can create disturbances!

The columnist is regarded as the pioneer of the short film space in India and is also the Founder of SHAMIANA, India’s premier short film club.
https://www.facebook.com/cyrusfdastur

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