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UNESCO award for best panel

I don’t know about you but I’ve been busy this past week celebrating India’s latest triumph at UNESCO. Having already bagged the UNESCO awards for Best Prime Minister in the World, Best National Anthem in the World, and Best Currency Note in the World (which we won for the GPS-enabled 2,000 note), India has won in yet another category: Most Intelligent Committee in the World.

As expected, all the three finalists were from India. The second runner-up was the government committee set up last year to study how people who drink cow urine can enjoy many health benefits, such as freedom from diseases and gas. It is still going strong, with the panellists engaged in intense research to sniff out new merits of cow dung.

Titling the film

The first runner-up was the special panel of historians and royals convened by the censor board to investigate whether the film Padmavati, a fictional drama based on a fictional story, has distorted history.

For those of you who have no clue what I’m talking about, Padmavati is a 190-crore film made by a man whose unabridged name is Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Its name was recently shortened from Padmavati to Padmaavat, sparking a speculative frenzy among bookies, who have been offering bets on the film’s final name.

If you are yet to place a bet, here’s my tip: there’s a good chance that Padmaavat will be further trimmed to ‘Padma’ on Monday, before being released eventually as either ‘Pad’, ‘Pati’ or ‘Pav’.

Sources close to the producers tell me that they considered squelching all controversy by simply titling the film ‘P’. But apparently Deepika Padukone objected, pointing out that people might mistake the film for parking. The idea was finally shot down by Bhansali himself, who was worried that a standalone ‘P’ as the title of the film might offend the sentiments of patriotic Indians, since ‘P’ is also the first letter of Pakistan.

Avoiding confusion

The only problem in calling it ‘Pad’ was that PadMan was set to release on the same day. As everyone knows, Akshay Kumar is going through a phase where he is only acting in consciousness-raising films focussed on bodily effluents. After Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, which raised consciousness about faecal matter, in Pad Man, he will raise consciousness about sanitary napkins. By all accounts, Pad Man promises to be an absorbing experience, which means it’s a bad idea to take it on with a film titled ‘Pad’. But with Kumar gracefully agreeing to postpone the release of his blockbuster, Bhansali may just go ahead with ‘Pad’.

But I wouldn’t totally rule out ‘Pati’ either. After all, with so few husband-oriented films being made, it would make sense to rebrand the film as one about a brave husband who sacrifices his life in battle so that, centuries later, he can have Deepika as his wife. Plenty of Indian men would identify with that storyline, and it has the added benefit of confusing the Karni Sena.

But ‘Pati’ might just be edged out by ‘Pav’, a popular dish among film-going audiences in India. Many historians have noted that Padmavati was quite fond of Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji, and Misal Pav. Of course, we have to check with the Rajputs first before deciding whether this historical fact is valid. But if she was, then ‘Pav’ is not a bad title, in my opinion.

A pressing issue for the nation

Given the sheer volume of intelligence needed to understand all these fascinating aspects of Padmavati alias Padmaavat alias Padma alias Pad alias Pati alias Pav, it is no surprise that the censor board’s panel has won the silver medal. But the UNESCO gold medal for the World’s Most Intelligent Committee has deservedly gone to the 12-member inter-ministerial panel set up to examine whether the national anthem should be played in cinema halls.

Since this is the most pressing issue facing the nation today, our government has ensured a power-packed committee, with representatives from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Defence Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, and Ministry of Culture (naturally, given that this is a UNESCO matter and UNESCO is our culture).

For the next six months, the wisest heads from these ministries will strive to answer the question: should the national anthem be played in cinema halls, and, if yes, how do we then force Netflix to play the national anthem before every film, and if Netflix agrees to do so, could lying in bed consuming wine with cheese be construed as a patriotic virtual ID that is equivalent to standing up for the national anthem?

One can only hope that instead of cribbing all the time about non-issues like jobs, economic growth, education etc., the people of India will learn from their highly intelligent government and apply themselves to the national anthem question so that we can all, together as a nation, realise the dream of Stand Up India.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 11:25:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/unesco-award-for-best-panel/article22481700.ece

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