Updated: Sep 12
Loving The Art of An Artist You Hate
She taught me how to take control of my life. She showed why it is necessary to stray out of the comfort zone. Who is she? She is Rani of Queen. After the movie ended I was in love with the character. I wanted to befriend that innocent girl who made innocence her weapon and never shied away from taking her guard down. Do you see those ‘oddly satisfying videos’ on Youtube? The friendship between Rani and the three people from Japan, France and Russia was so satisfying to watch. Ah and that expression of bewilderment when the Italian restaurant owner asks her to show how Indians kiss! Lastly, Rani’s walk-back from Vijay’s house - symbolic of leaving patriarchy, fundamentalism and orthodoxy behind - obviously warranted a clap even though I was watching the movie alone in my house.
Now, back to real life, I get pained when team Kangna decides to level some serious allegations against the liberals. I get pained when I see that just like the heartless news anchors Kangna is quick to jump to conclusions on Rhea Chakraborty. I get emotional when she ( through her sister) calls for attacking the “mullas” because of their alleged role in Covid spread. I, a Muslim, am an ardent fan of her and it breaks my heart to see that she also fell prey to fake news. ( How can I be sure that the news was fake ? Proof 1, Proof 2, Proof 3 ). I immediately believed her when she levelled allegations against Hrithik Rohsahn. I was in awe of her capability to call a spade a spade. But unfortunately, that fearless Kangna has given way to someone I don’t recognise and love.
Separating The Art From The Artist
So, how do I unlove the on-screen Kangna? How do I un-watch her great movie Queen? How do I recollect my tears that I shed while watching Fashion? That’s not possible. Queen will always be one of my favourite movies. Tu Hi Meri Shab Hai Subah Hai will always remain one of my favourite romantic songs.
This makes me guilty. I am loving the art of the artist who never thinks twice before making hurtful comments. You have been loving a person for so long and then suddenly, she becomes the villain. We watch movies and series and want to be friends with the characters and by extension, the actors. And then, you hear these things. It takes a mature mind to separate the Kangna of Queen from the Kangna of Twitter.
It will obviously be uncomfortable to watch Shakespeare In Love Or My Week With Marilyn after Weinstein’s sentence. However, we should remember that art, when finished, is no longer the property of the artist. The artist loses all control over the art. This vox article goes further to state that the artist becomes dead as soon as the art is done. The art lives on independently. It cannot be touched or defiled. We love the moon light despite knowing that the light is getting reflected by a crater-filled, oxygen-less object. Same is the reason we love the Moon-Walk despite MJ being involved in so many controversies.
When The Artist Is Both Good and Bad
Paresh Rawal, also, became controversy’s child when he proposed tying the writer Arundhati Roy to the army van as a human shield. This same man acted in Oh My God and Dharam Sankat Mein where he criticised religions. So what to do with his movies then? Should the left wing celebrate these two movies while criticising the actor. Should the right wing denounce these two movies but give him a Loksabha seat?
See, this is the problem with associating the real life artist with the reel life character. As I said earlier, art, when finished, should be dissociated from the artist. He is no longer a stakeholder. The art lives on separately.
The Grey Area
Does that mean, we should celebrate the books of Hitler? Should we watch the propaganda movie of Leni Riefenstahl as mentioned by Janna Thompson ? No, there is a difference between art and propaganda. Anything — book, movies or paintings — that has the capability of harming a race, religion or individual people cannot be termed as art — it is a weapon. A sophisticated one. And it should be shunned. And by harming, I mean harming, and not insulting. Because, the feeling of insult can be a very subjective matter.
Then again, suppose a terrorist is funding his evil activities by selling his non-propagandist books. And suppose these books are quite pleasurable to read. Should we still buy these books forgetting who wrote it? No, because, in my opinion, this also falls under the purview of art being used as a weapon. And we should not only shun these books but burn them even if they are of literary value.
The Victoria Memorial Conundrum
In my dreams, many times I go to the green, clean ground of Victoria Memorial with my imaginary girlfriend. I lay my head on her lap and start dreaming within my dreams, Victoria Memorial is the de facto lovers point in Kolkata.
This Victoria Memorial was built by the British who plundered India and shamelessly siphoned off all the valuable resources to Britain. Should this symbol of British Monarchy be destroyed? Should we smash Victoria Memorial and build something else in place? What do you think?
I think we shouldn’t do that. If we tread that path, there will be no end. There are so many British monuments and buildings in the country. And then there will be those smart guys who will give this a religious angle. My opinion is, we should not destroy these works of art. However, we must not let these monuments, roads, buildings play with our subconscious. We should denude these works of art of any British connotation. We should change the name of Victoria Memorial. That way, the art will remain but it will not be a weapon anymore.
Bollywood,today, is suffering from fever. A fever that makes one talk incoherently. A fever that feels like you have been hypnotised. A fever that takes too much time to be cured. I just wish that this fever subsides quickly and everybody in the industry gets well soon. Till then I will revel in the works of art it has already gifted me.
- Marifur Rahaman