An Open Letter To Mr Amitabh Bachchan
You wrote a poignant poem after the 'Delhi incident' last year. At that point in time, the nation was in a rage. There was an uproar. Sadly, it has now died down.
This letter is an attempt to ignite that same spark of outrage that fuelled the nation after the gruesome and barbaric Delhi gang-rape after which 'Nirbhaya' fought a losing battle for 13 days.
Last week, the first verdict was out: three years for the juvenile, who according to the police report was the most brutal of all. Eight months have elapsed. The anguished cry of the mother has fallen on deaf ears.
Her brother Gaurav (20), who accompanied his parents for the verdict, said they could not believe the verdict. I quote an online interview: "Yes, we knew the rules that govern a juvenile accused, but we thought the judge will consider that he was the most brutal among all the six men. The board went strictly by the rule book, not the case. The world knows how my sister died, yet there is no punishment for that man.
"We thought the nation was with us, we have strength in numbers, but it really makes no difference to the government. All those protests will not end rape, only the death sentence can make a difference."
This telling statement from Gaurav brings to the fore why this missive is addressed to you. I hope you don't mind my doing this. But I do see a ray of hope from Bollywood... through you.
We have seen life imitate art. Time to reverse that.
In Satyagraha, you play Dwarka Anand, a firm believer in truth and someone who will not buckle under pressure. Dwarka fights for what is right and wants to give to the people of Ambikapur solace from the many years of tyranny from politicians.
Your look, your mannerisms matched those of David from AAKHRI RAASTA. Only the road your character took in that film, almost 25 years ago, was different. David wanted justice... he took the law into his own hands. SHAHENSHAH did the same. Dwarka does not believe in that.
This is a ripe time for the character of Dwarka to become larger than life in real life.
In an online interview, just before the JJB verdict, Asha, the mother had stated: "She (my daughter) told me how those monsters pinned her down. They sat on her arms and legs, they bit her. People compare them to animals. Animals eat other animals and discard the half-eaten carcass. But this happened with a human being! Un logon ne kaise, jiteji, ek insan ko nochke kha gayen! (How could these men eat her up alive!)"
At Jantar Mantar in New Delhi, five people have been coming together daily (according to reports) since the past nine months awaiting the death sentence for the rapists. The rest of the country has stopped protesting, but they still come to this spot.
Bollywood has the clout to make a difference. For long, violence in society has been blamed on the glorification of crime depicted on screen. Now is the time to change that perception.
If you choose to lead the way, I am sure there will be many to keep the movement alive. There's Farhan Akhtar who was visibly shaken by this incident. There's also Anupam Kher who has expressed shock over the verdict on the juvenile. There are many others who are distressed with this verdict.
This is not only about standing alongside the parents and their two sons in their cry for justice. It is about fighting for every daughter of our country. Fighting for their safety; fighting for their right to live a fearless life.
The penultimate verse of your poem for 'Nirbhaya' and the last line are heart-wrenching...
Maa tere liye ab kya kahu..
dard ko tere shabdon main kaise bandhu...
fir se jeene ka moka kaise maangu...
... Maa sab sah lena par ye na kahna
"Agle janam Mohe Bitiya na dena"
Let's fight to keep her memory alive with a verdict that will do justice not only to the family but also to all the women in the country. They will never get their daughter back, but at least (if the verdict is favorable to all the women) they will know that she did not die in vain.
Let's show the crushed family, 'Bollywood Cares'.
God Bless You
(This weekly column tries to be as honest as honest can be... )
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