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Khans' 'intolerance' & Bollywood's contribution over the years to India's unity

E R Ramachandran

Updated: November 25, 2015, 9:57 AM IST
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Khans' 'intolerance' & Bollywood's contribution over the years to India's unity
It drew warm response from our soldiers and a grateful Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru appreciated the fine gesture of the troupe.
After the 1962 war with China which was called 'Chinese Aggression', in which India was routed by a much superior opponent and who took the then government totally by shock, understandably the mood in the country was one of despair and despondency. Defence Minister Krishna Menon had to resign because the country was ill-prepared to face the aggressor. It was even rumored that our soldiers didn’t even have warm shoes to wear when faced with the enemy on icy slopes of North Eastern Frontier Agency, NEFA.

Something had to be done quickly to remove such a state of depression especially among our forces. It was Bollywood that rose to the occasion.

Actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis took the challenge of the times. They took their troupe, Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe with several actors and singers and toured below- zero temperature places like Ladakh, Aksai Chin and performed for our forces.

It drew warm response from our soldiers and a grateful Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru appreciated the fine gesture of the troupe.

Even after 1965 and 1971 wars against Pakistan, Ajanta Arts went to border areas and performed for our soldiers. In fact it was the first troupe to perform in Dakha after the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971.

Again, in front of the Prime Minister, Lata Mangeshkar sang poet Pradeep's song composed by Music Director C Ramachandra the song, 'Aye Mere Watan ke logon' on the occasion of Republic Day on January 26, 1963 just couple of months after the Chinese war. The song moved the Prime Minister so much he found it difficult to hide his tears. After listening to the song, the Prime Minister said: ‘Those who don’t feel inspired by ‘Aye mere watan ke logon’ don’t deserve to be called a Hindustani’.

All the Artists and technicians involved with the song pledged the Royalty of the song to in perpetuity to the War Widow Fund. In 2005 the Bombay High Court asked the music company HMV to indicate a lump sum payable to the Army Welfare fund from the song’s royalty proceeds.

The film industry is a microcosm of India. Muslims, Hindus, Christians and literally artists and technicians from all parts of the country live like a family. It has worked in total harmony all these years without ever getting drawn into political issues and parties’ politics. That is why it has been able to produce classics like Chaudhvin ka Chand, made by Guru Dutt, Shatranj ke Khiladi by Satyajit Ray and films like Razia Sutan, Mugha-E Azam, Tajmahal, Pakheeza which were all classics liked by all sections of the country. Some of the patriotic songs like,’ Insaan ki dagarpe, Bacchon ki gaao chal ke’, ‘Nanha Munna Raahin hun’ from ‘Son of India’ asking children to love their country was composed by Naushad were huge hits.

Credit must be given to senior actors like Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand who never allowed any communal and fissiparous issues to go out of hand and kept the film industry as a cohesive industry throughout.

In all those years they ensured there was communal harmony even when the country was at war with Pakistan or even the communal disturbances in 1992 and 1993 that rocked Mumbai. That is why their contribution to the industry and country is much more than the films they acted in, the films they made and the songs that they song. They were really heroes of the times in all respects.

In sharp contrast, it is amusing and sad to see talk of ‘intolerance’ by leading actors like Shah Rukh Khan or that of Aamir Khan who is even thinking of leaving the country and settling in some of the country because of few isolated incidents.

That is why Poet Iqbal’s song, ‘Saare Jahan se Accha. Hinustan Hamaraa’ is so appropriate even today.

His words, has long been the corner stone of our beliefs and way of life:

Mazhab nahin sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna
Hindi hain hum, watan hai Hindustan humara
First Published: November 25, 2015, 9:57 AM IST

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