ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Two Films, Two Opinions

The courts must decide whether free expression is a constitutional right.

A symphony orchestra has different musical instruments. But when they play together, there is music. The trick is to have a good score, a skilled conductor and musicians who follow the rules. What happens if half the musicians play one tune and the other half another? You get cacophony, not symphony. This is precisely what seems to be happening as a result of the observations on freedom of expression emanating from the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court.

In December last year, believers in the right to free expression sent up a silent cheer when a Supreme Court bench ruled out banning the popular multi-grosser Bollywood film PK. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, the film depicts an extraterrestrial landing on earth and mocking the strange rituals and beliefs of the humans he confronts. Expectedly, in a country that ought to be renamed the Republic of the Offended, some people objected to the film. Ban it, they demanded, because it hurt their religious sentiments. How could anyone, even an extraterrestrial, mock religion and “god”-men?

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