Padmavati to be released as Jill and Jack

“Jill and Jack.”

There was a hushed silence. People in the audience looked at each other. They were used to outlandish statements by Bollywood film folks, but this one took even them, hardened film scribes, by surprise.

“Jill and Jack”, the veteran film-maker repeated, in a louder voice, to make sure everyone heard it clearly, lest another fringe group decides to save the country’s honour laid low by film folks not speaking clearly. “Yes, that is the name we have now settled on for our movie that is based on a work of fiction of a noted Indian Sufi poet of the fourteenth century, which will be released this week in theatres across the country. It has been chosen after careful thought, since works of fiction, and movies based on them, are bound to tarnish the reputation of historical figures whose veracity has not been established, and bring shame upon our rich culture of tolerance and plurality.”

The veteran film-maker had been here before. He could sense that it was all getting a bit confusing for the gathered scribes. He decided to elaborate.

“You know that ‘not on my watch’ was the verdict of four states ruled by one particular political party, who, despite clearance by the highest court of the country, banned this movie for fear of a widespread public outcry since only a handful of fringe groups had raised the outcry for banning the movie. These states were also concerned that a widespread law and order situation would have arisen. And this was despite taking the last letter, the letter ‘i’, out, and changing the name of the movie to Padmavat, from Padmavati originally.”

The gathered media persons were only too aware of the situation. They were proud participants in the democratic traditions of the country where fringe interest groups protected the country’s rich culture and traditions on behalf of a billion who did not give a second thought to them. These groups had such a great influence on the hearts and minds not only of their members, but also of the common man, that if they gave the cry for boycotting a certain movie, nobody would heed it. As such, per highest traditions of democracy and civil society, the only logical way out was to resort to threats of physical violence on behalf of all the people who did not pay heed to their cry, as it was for their own good.

“You have witnessed the agitation that gradually spread across other states, as we kept dropping letters from the name, first dropping the “t” from Padmavat to make it Padmava and then dropping even the “a” to make it Padmav. We kept dropping letters like items of clothing worn by a screen vamp while seducing the hero in a seventies Bollywood movie, and fringe groups, working for protecting the rich culture of our country since time immemorial, kept taking birth like the hundred Kauravs born to Gandhari. These name changes stoked the embers of not only cultural, but also literary fires buried deep inside the hearts of fringe groups unilaterally representing the entire nation. We were blamed for distorting and misrepresenting not only the rich culture, but also the richness of the Hindi language as no words like Padmava or Padmav existed in the language.”

Gathered media persons were riveted. They did not realise that such a logical thought process had been followed behind the naming of this movie.

“Now, we are a reasonable set of people, as you are well aware, especially when commercial interests are at stake. Taking a cue from the fringe elements claiming to represent the entire nation, we dropped one more letter and changed the name to Padma.  Now, as you all know, Padma is a synonym for Lotus. It is also a popular name for females. As you all also know, Lotus is India’s national flower. And as you probably also know, Lotus is the symbol of the party currently in power at the Centre. While I consider myself to be brave in the face of adversity, suicidal is not a trait I associate with myself. Having already upset the cultural and literary fringe groups unilaterally protecting our heritage, could I afford to distance even the political establishment and the female population? Hence, without waiting for a new fringe group to take birth claiming to protect our rich culture from time immemorial, we took suo moto action and changed the name to Padm, in effect dropping the anglified “a” at the end, as many Hindi speakers call the Lotus Padm and not Padma. Like Ram and not Rama.”

You could have heard a pin drop.

“But superficial actions can only take you so far. And people cannot be fooled easily, as we realised to our anguish, especially the fringe elements who claim fiction and mythology to be the rich history of this land. Unfortunately the meaning of the word did not change from Padma to Padm. It stayed as Lotus. So we made it Pad. “Guess what? The movie Padman, which was scheduled to release on the same day as the now-rechristened Pad, took objection to the move and blocked its release. Left with no other option, the name of the movie was soon changed to Pa and soon thereafter to P. I sometimes marvel at the federal setup of the country. Did we need so many states? Every time we dropped a letter 4 new states stood up and banned the movie. This could not go on forever. Fortunately we started with 8 letters when we started dropping letters with Padmavat.“

Normally a boisterous lot, the audience of film scribes did not even have a question to ask.

“But objections kept coming. Having come so far we could not turn back at this stage. Being a fan of the musician Prince in my younger days, I found the inspiration to change the name to “”. Yes, that is correct. The movie without a name. As my idol Prince had once done by changing his name to a symbol followed by the tagline, ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’.

But it wasn’t so easy for us. What would we use as a tagline?

The movie formerly known as Padmavati?

Or, the movie formerly known as Padmavat?

Or, the movie formerly known as Padmava?

Or, the movie formerly known as Padmav?

Or, the movie formerly known as Padma?

Or, the movie formerly known as Padm?

Or, the movie formerly known as Pad?

Or, the movie formerly known as Pa?

Or, the movie formerly known as P?

We were forced to look beyond the obvious. That is when we discovered the rich world of fables and stories and myths outside India. That is when we settled on Jill and Jack. I have to say it was a tough choice. When the other names in contention are Alexander, Pocahontas, Shakespeare and Aristotle, a choice is never easy.”

The audience seemed to come to. A senior reported asked, “With the new name, will the film be able to overcome objections from these fringe groups?”

“Honestly, I don’t know. As the objections were raised on the basis of imagination of what the film might contain, without it having been viewed, it remains to be seen. I cannot say how creative the imagination of these groups might be and what they might imagine to be portrayed in the film without having seen it. But the good thing is that so far Bollywood films have remained confined to the actions of fringe groups operating within the country. It is our desire to take the culture overseas and be banned by overseas interest groups. So far no Indian movie, to the best of my knowledge, has been banned overseas, especially in a western society that upholds the rule of law and democratic traditions, like India does. With Jill and Jack, we expect the overseas market to open up and establish a global market for the banning of Bollywood movies.”

“Surely you meant the name to be Jack and Jill, and not Jill and Jack,” another scribe found his voice and asked.

The film-maker was silent for a few moments. Then he said, “I am not sure how to put it in an inoffensive way. You see, it appears that some of the western audiences are not as culturally sensitive to the erosion of their historical and cultural legacy through fictional books and movies as we are. A name like Jack and Jill might not get much attention. Hence, it was necessary to tamper with the name to ensure that the movie gets the full opportunity of being banned overseas.”

The audience stood up as one and applauded the film-maker’s farsightedness.

36 thoughts on “Padmavati to be released as Jill and Jack

    • Thank you Peter! To your point about censorship, there is an independent Censor Board that needs to clear all movies slated for public release. It is normally staffed with eminent film personalities. Of course, different people and institutions do try to exert pressure to try and bend the board to their way of thinking. This is the formal structure. Of course, beyond the formal structure there is a vast and varied population, with their own beliefs and aspirations. Again, various people and institutions try to mould this vast population to their own way of thinking. Sometimes it works. Cinema being the most popular form of entertainment for the vast majority, often rouses strong emotions and has the potential of being used for good and bad.

  1. You have written about the one-who-cannot-be-named by making references to, namely, the party of the one-who-cannot-be-named. In so doing, you pose the risk of spoiling the party for the one-who-cannot-be-named. In the name of the one-who-cannot-be-named may you be condemned to become the one-who-cannot-be-named.

    – one-who-cannot-be-named

    • Is that true? I though changing names was an Indian affliction. But we had comfort in knowing that the choice was between the name being changed to either Gandhi or Nehru, though that list is expanding now. 😦

  2. “They were proud participants in the democratic traditions of the country where fringe interest groups protected the country’s rich culture and traditions on behalf of a billion who did not give a second thought to them.” How delightful! You have, as usual, put your finger on the troubles that beset us all. We too, have tiny fringe groups that push and poke and upset the apple cart of genuine Australian indifference.

  3. I protest, I protest because of… now let me think. Ah yes! I protest because you changed Jack and Jill to Jill and Jack. If that took off, what will we say to the children – all fed on western fairy tales. What will do with all the books in circulation? What will we —

    “Shut up! Ladies first.”

    I squeak – no protest.

  4. I Grew up in a foreign country where most movies where translated in subtitles, and almost never had the same title, to this day talking to friends about movies I have difficulty to come with the original title in English when I want to talk about certain film!
    Not to say anything about the lousy job they did at translation, combined with censorship…

    So, I can understand totally the humor on it, but I still I am reeling, from Padmaavat to Jill and Jack? 🙂

    • I assume “foreign” country means a country that is not India and where English is not common. And you are referring to English movies being released with subtitles in the local language. Because in many towns in India English movies are advertised with Hindi names and images that, many times, are lewd without the movie being so. Totally changing what the movie maker may be trying to convey. I think I get what you are saying!

      • Yes, I lived after for 31 years in the USA and it was difficult for me to know the original titles of the movies, they talked about it, or me trying to talk about a particular movie that I saw translated with a different title.
        Wrote a post in my blog, about my movie experiences as a child, and young man, on my country, on January 2017. 🙂

      • Thanks for pointing me to your movie-related post. Read it, with fascination and interest. I am now even more curious. You said you lived for 31 years in USA. Where did you live before and after? What is your native language? You mentioned watching movies from a lot of different places, including India, in one of your posts. If you don’t mind sharing, I would be interested in knowing.

      • I was born and raised in Mexico, and now recently I am back, and therefore my native language it’s Spanish, yes I wrote on my post:
        “And what a first class cinema education I got, the rich fare we were served, through our theaters we saw every movie made around the globe, not only by Hollywood, but French, Italian, British, Swedish, German, Japanese, Spanish, Indian, Mexican, Argentinian, Brazilian, and anybody who could make a movie, somehow slowly but surely the heavy canisters rolls of celluloid would reach our theaters, and were loaded into the big old projectors. ”
        Of course I do not claim to have watched every movie ever made, but a great deal of them reached our shores, from India, I remember particularly seeing Mother India 1957, Guide 1965, and a few others, which by the before mentioned habit of changing titles of foreign movies, to suit local audiences, would be very hard to tell. 🙂

      • Thank you for clarifying and telling me more about yourself. I think I now better understand your perspective. And yes, Mother India and Guide are two iconic Hindi movies. Movies are made in India in more than 10 languages. Of these, I only understand Hindi. And of course the English movies made by Hollywood.

  5. “Taking a cue from the fringe elements claiming to represent the entire nation”

    The US is plagued by this spawned by tiny groups that immediately become the darlings of the left making us moderates and tolerant people move further and further to the right in disgust. Every little group form those that think a man in woman’s clothing has a “right” to use the women’s public bathroom because of sexual identity to those who think they should have special laws designed for them and their “rights”. Society does not conform to people. People must conform to society. Naturally we want a society that is tolerant and advocates equal protection and equal justice for all but it seems self promoting idiots control much of the national conversation and also think President Trump is the source of all evil. It’s a “I’m special and kiss my feet” revolution. I wish they’d use those feet to walk off the planet .

    • Increasing polarisation does not bode well for the planet. Every person/ group/ nation/ culture is busy jockeying for whatever advantage they can get. Unfortunately it comes at the expense of someone else.

  6. This made me smile. It has been so frustrating and horrifying at the same time. I was home in Ahmedabad and stuck inside a building as people were rioting outside and burning up bikes and buses. I mean seriously. Over fiction.Over a name. Over an assumption??

    • Ridiculous, isn’t it? I saw the movie and the thing I found repulsive was how unidimensional the characters are. Rajputs all good. Khiljis all bad. In my view the only group that could have had a grouse with treatment is any Khilji descendants. Speaks poorly of the intelligence and pride of the common man, who seems willing to be used as a pawn by anyone with an axe to grind.

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