This refers to the editorial "Protecting freedom and artistic creativity" (June 14). Abusing religious faith and personalities seems to have become common in the film industry. No religion has been exempted from this. A responsible government must decide whether it is the freedom of expression of an individual or a group, or respect of the followers of Christ, Mohammad and Ram that is important. Supporting perverted thinking in the name of protecting freedom and creativity is inappropriate.
Did the makers of The Da Vinci Code ever claim that the story is not of Jesus Christ? How, then, can the work be termed fiction? How can anyone weave a story that seeks to prove wrong a belief held for two millenniums? It is unfortunate that the Censor Board found the film fit for release.
Syed Sultan Mohiddin,
The Supreme Court's poser to the petitioners on how many countries professing Christianity have banned the film is irrelevant. The chances of the film destabilising social harmony are far more in a country like India where people of different religions coexist. Be it fiction or fact on which a film is based, it should be banned if it comments on religion, especially in a sensitive country like India.
While the work, which claims to be fiction, is not disrespectful to Christianity, it maligns the Church without quoting a shred of evidence. Fiction has no business dragging in the Church which, unlike fiction, is real.
Mohammed Zaki Ansari,
When Prophet Muhammad was caricatured by a Danish cartoonist, The Hindu did not argue for freedom of expression! But when it comes to a work that hurts Christians, it is vociferous in defending artistic creativity. There is nothing artistic or creative in the code. Dan Brown takes liberties with the Opus Dei, the Church and Christ. Critical studies of the New Testament, and those of early Christian literature, have pointed to no such thing as marriage of Jesus Christ! Nor is it certain who Mary Magdalene is.
When The Da Vinci Code has overcome protests from Christians in almost all parts of the world, why should it be banned in a country that claims to maintain unity in diversity? The Government cleared it after much discussion and debate. Why should State Governments react by suspending its screening or banning it?
The decision of many State Governments not to screen the film has only aroused and whetted the inquisitiveness of many. At the same time, one should understand that freedom of expression cannot encroach upon one's faith. People should accept the film as pure fiction and dismiss it.
The editorial is correct in stressing that the way The Da Vinci Code has been handled by the Centre and the State Governments has disturbing implications for freedom of expression. When the book on which the film is based has not been banned in India, there is no justification in the demand for a ban on the film.
The Supreme Court's refusal to consider petitions seeking a ban on the film is praiseworthy. The State Governments that have prohibited its screening are indulging in competitive appeasement of religious minorities. What were these Governments doing when the book was selling in thousands some time ago? Does the state have a right to throttle alternative thoughts on any religion on the ground that they are inflammatory?
D. Manikyala Rao,
The apex court was positively assertive in its declaration that the film is a product of fiction and nothing more. If mobs (and groups) are allowed to decide whether a film can be screened or not (Fanaa and The Da Vinci Code), our Constitution may become yet another stand-aside feature of the actual polity.
The Tamil Nadu Government's decision to suspend the screening of the film is apparently meant to appease the Christian community. Many Tamil movies have depicted various communities, particularly Brahmins, in poor light. Songs are loaded with double meaning and the traditional Brahmin attire is used in funny song sequences, which hurts the sentiments of the community. Has there been any protest or demand for a ban on them? By doing what it has done, the Government headed by atheists has proved that its leaders are in fact believers in God!
The State Government's move is unwarranted given that it is ruled by a party that rose to power in the name of rationalism. Christianity which is over 2000 years old cannot be shaken by a film running for a few hours and a few days in cinemas. Consider this: in how many towns and cities will the film be screened? How many will watch the film, given that it is in English? In such circumstances, can the film possibly disturb peace? Talk of banning the film when the book is available on platforms is ridiculous. Films that depict violence, rape, and denigrate all sections, particularly women, run to full houses for months.
Banning The Da Vinci Code is against the basic tenets of democracy and secularism. If the authorities were so sensitive to religious sentiments, they should have banned the book on which the film is based. Meetings with Christian representatives and assurances/disclaimers that it is just a work of fiction should have laid matters to rest. Politicians, as is their wont, have made a mountain out of a molehill.