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So you’ve been hearing all kinds of stories about how life will change after the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, about how mankind has learnt its lesson. You’ve also been inundated with messages on your phone about how humans will be more compassionate, more loving, more forgiving in the New Normal. Will this be true? Just two examples from the film industry will debunk the entire theory of the world being a better place in the post-COVID-19 era.

No sooner was the Laxmmi Bomb trailer released than a Hindu fringe outfit lost no time in demanding a boycott of the film. Reason? How can a film be titled after Goddess Laxmi? It would hurt the sentiments of the Hindus who worship the Goddess of Wealth. When some people had been demanding a ban on the Laxmi Bomb as a Diwali cracker because it was named after the Goddess, how could a film have the same title? Blasphemous! That was not all. The Hindu outfit also reasoned that the film dealt with love jehad because the name of the hero’s character in the film was Asif (Muslim) while the name of the heroine’s character was Priya Yadav (Hindu). Is this the first Bollywood film to deal with the story of inter-faith love? Such questions were not even deemed necessary to answer. So where did the so-called compassion and love for one another go? If the film is indeed banned by the authorities for the reasons claimed by the outfit, or boycotted by the public for those reasons, the outfit’s grouse could at least be considered to be valid. But we all know, that’s never going to happen. So then what?

The Hindu outfit also reasoned that the film dealt with love jehad…

The other example is that of Tamil film 800, which was supposed to be a biopic on the Sri Lankan cricketing sensation Muttiah Muralitharan. As soon as Vijay Sethupathi’s name was announced as the film’s hero, such a horrendous controversy erupted around the film that Sethupathi was forced to withdraw from the film. Why, Muralitharan himself asked the actor to desist from acting in the film. The controversy related to the Sri Lankan civil war of 2009 when Muttiah is alleged to have remained silent rather than sympathise with the Indian Tamilians allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan army. As if the furore over the film and over Vijay Sethupathi’s casting was not enough, some troll on Twitter threatened Sethupathi’s family members and even warned that he’d rape the actor’s daughter if Vijay did not quit the film.

…Some troll on Twitter threatened Sethupathi’s family members and even warned that he’d rape the actor’s daughter if Vijay did not quit the film.

Was this the compassion and love people were talking about in the New Normal? Nothing’s changing. Not so soon at least. Perhaps, nothing’s gonna change — ever!


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