‘Neerja’ was released worldwide on February 19, 2016. I watched the thriller recently at my wife’s insistence and I did not regret it at all. It is based on a true incident – the 1986 hijacking in Karachi, Pakistan of Pan Am Flight 73 by the Libya-backed Abu Nidal Organization.
(Spoilers ahead. If you know Neerja’s story, please keep reading!)
The movie revolves around the life of a flight attendant, Neerja Bhanot, (played by Sonam Kapoor) whose brave and timely actions saved the lives of 359 passengers and crew on board.
If the actors succeed in making you forget that what the audience are watching is only staged enactment, then they have succeeded in their job. The actors who play the terrorists, particularly the two lead characters do justice to this statement. Sonam Kapoor, too, does a great job portraying Neerja’s character.
For instance, Neerja was fondly called “Babu Moshaay”in the movie, that famous phrase from Rajesh Khanna’s hit movie “Anand”, in which Khanna plays a terminal patient with a jolly heart. It is sadly curious how Neerja’s life would also be cut off unnaturally early like one of her favourite movie characters.
The movie also has a lot of nostalgia value for those who grew up in the 80’s in urban India.
Parties in the society lawn with cool, yellow “squash”(drink) being served as big fans blow air onto a sultry evening?
Fifteen years ago, if someone had predicted a national controversy about the phrase “Bharat Mata ki Jai” (Victory to Mother India), I would have shelved that idea with other revolutionary and fanciful notions like “Batman exists” or that “God does not exist”.
Who would have ever thought. In a controversy that had embroiled popular political figures like Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS, Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM, Baba Ramdev of the Patanjali and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri. Devendra Fadnavis, our nation (or at least our nation’s blogosphere, Twittersphere and “newsphere”) was buzzing through with variants of the question –
Can any Indian citizen choose not to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” ?
If not, aren’t such people anti-national?
Should this debate concern Indian Christians?
I think it should concern anyone who is part of a religious minority in our country.
Barely a few weeks ago, Muslim youth from a Delhi Madrassa were beaten up by some men allegedly because they refused to say this potent phrase. The cops have claimed that there are conflicting versions about what the victims of the attack were asked to say – “ Victory to Mother India” or “Victory to the Mother”, which is Jai Mata Di, a worship chant for Vaishno Devi, a Hindu goddess popular in North India.
At a sadbhavana sammelan (compassion rally) in Haryana, Baba Ramdev said that but for the law, he would have chopped heads of those who refuse to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai“.
He now has a police complaint registered against him for making a hate speech. It is yet to be seen what legal action would be taken against a prominent pro-Hindutva guru in these times. But my point is – if an Indian citizen who is a Christian refuses to say “Bharat Mata ki Jai”, it is quite possible that he or she shall face no small repercussion in India’s tangible summer of religious intolerance.
So, is it right for Christians to say this phrase?
Quick question – what hymns or songs did you sing this Easter morning?
Though it is the most momentous Sunday in Christianity and the most incredible event on planet earth, our fickle memories can even turn Easter into a distant memory. The tears about Jesus’ death – Good Friday – have long been wiped and so has been the Sunday sermon on Jesus’ resurrection. The final busy week of March is upon most of us, employee appraisals hang like Goliath’s sword above our heads and it’s India vs. West Indies at World Cup T 20 tonight. Thank you, but move on Easter!
As the intensity of that empty tomb in Israel dwindles down to “harmless” levels, here’s an encouragement for all Christians out there.
Easter is more than an annual festival. It’s a quiet revolution that should rightly turn your world upside down, one day at a time.
For starters, consider what Billy Graham once said –
“There is more evidence that Jesus rose from the dead than there is that Julius Caesar ever lived or that Alexander the Great died at the age of thirty-three.”
The undeniable reality of Jesus coming alive three days after dying a bloody, brutal death on the cross is so solid a supernatural event, that I still wonder how as a knowledgeable Hindu, I was not aware of this truth for twenty-one years.
Siblings just don’t know how to live with one another. At least, that’s what you would say if you tried to trace out the lives of most siblings in the Bible.
We see Cain murder Abel, Jacob tricking Esau and Joseph being sold into slavery by his own older brothers. Jesus’ biological brothers made fun of the very Son of God- we’re glad He did not zap them with thunderbolts in return. If you’ve had siblings, you would have had your (un)fair share of animosity, bruises and tears.
But sibling apathy is another matter. This less-intensive but destructive phenomenon is easily noticeable in adults.