Truth Be Told

“Which word I uttered did you construe as conveying that?” The words were uttered in an even tone but the menace was palpable. If this was a comic strip, icicles would have formed around the speech bubble.

“Does that mean that you are against the Kashmiri Pandits, who have suffered so much?” was the query from a reputed reporter upholding the noblest traditions of media reporting, of asking irrelevant questions, that had elicited the response from John Abraham.

This question had been the natural outcome of Abraham’s silence on the earlier question asked by the same journo, “What do you think of Kashmir Files?”

Kashmir Files, incidentally, is the name of the commercial movie directed by a private individual that, according to some, lays bare the ‘truth’ behind the atrocities against the Pandit community by another community in Kashmir leading to a mass exodus in the eighties and nineties. The truth that the director was able to lay his hands on, that multiple governments formed by multiple political parties at the centre, could not unearth. That no enquiry commissions or judicial cases or military action could unearth in the last thirty years.

In fact, going by the reactions, it seems our political leaders had no idea about the ‘truth’ till the movie was released, as they appear to be quite effusive in praising it. I think we are in good hands. Immature leaders might have taken issue with being upstaged by a private individual with perhaps no access to government archives and records, presenting a ‘truth’ that they could not. But mature leaders take it in their stride and shower praise where it is due. On a private individual who has made a commercial movie.

Several states, it appears, have also exempted the movie from entertainment tax, in order that more people have access to the truth presented by a private individual in a commercial movie. Seemingly a better choice for entertainment tax exemption than ‘83,’ a movie about India’s unlikely victory in the World Cup of cricket in 1983, that, arguably, put India on the path to leadership in world cricket, that released around the same time.

But then, ‘83’ did not need a director to unearth truths that no government could access. The truth it presented has been known to everyone interested in cricket for 39 years. It is only a feel-good presentation of that truth. So, on second thoughts, how can one justify entertainment tax exemption for such a movie? Good it did not get it.

But I suppose I am guilty of doing to Abraham what the journo did to Attack; of ignoring him.

It was clearly the most pertinent question as the occasion was of Abraham promoting his upcoming movie Attack. He should have come prepared to answer questions about Kashmir Files. What was he thinking?

“What do you hope to achieve with Attack?”

“Will Attack be a suitable movie for families to watch together?”

“How do you keep yourself physically fit to execute the demanding action sequences in the movie?”

“What advice do you have for youngsters who come to watch your movies?”

Such questions are passe when there is an unrelated commercial movie in the ecosystem directed by a private individual that claims to lay bare the ‘truth.’ They need to be consigned to the dustbin. When you come to participate in a promotional event for the movie Attack, you must, as a journalist, ask for the producer’s views on the unrelated commercial movie. Quite simple.

And Abraham should have come prepared to answer questions about Kashmir Files whether the name of the movie he was promoting was Attack or Defence. Quite simple.

In any case, who is he trying to fool? Does he not know that there is also an interpretation for silence?

The Kashmir Files director is expected to announce the commencement of his next movie, Taiwan Files, to unearth the mystery behind Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s plane crash and disappearance in Taiwan in August 1945, followed by Tashkent Files, to unearth the mystery behind the death, apparently of cardiac arrest, of then Prime Minister Las Bahadur Shastri in Tashkent in January 1966.

The judiciary is considering keeping the execution of death sentences for heinous crimes pending till the same private individual has been able to craft a commercial movie on the case, so that there is no chance of an injustice. The trial of heinous crimes may be entirely done away with.

The possibilities boggle the mind. The common man will finally get a Bollywood commercial movie directed by a private individual to provide the answers, beyond doubt, that governments and commissions have failed to. Most importantly, the answers that he wants.