Bollywood and culture in an emerging India
Jana Gana Mana ‘Rann’: new-age anthem?
Varma uses the tune of ‘Jana Gana Mana’ and adds to the lyrics, making it a full-fledged song for his film about India’s media industry — “Rann”.
The 47-year-old filmmaker has maintained he meant no disrespect but only wanted to use the anthem as a vehicle to “draw attention” to the country’s problems.
“For any right-thinking person, I do not believe that he can take offence to the way it’s been done and in what context it’s been shown,” Varma said at a news conference during the unveiling of “Rann” in New Delhi.
Unfortunately for Varma, his adaptation of “Jana Gana Mana” has proved to be more controversial than the film itself. The Censor Board refused certification to the song promo on grounds of it violating the National Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950. And the song is no longer being aired on television.
But that hasn’t stopped curious netizens from checking it out on video-sharing web site YouTube.
“The National anthem is not meant to be Remixed. End of Discussion,” YouTube user ‘orionrage’ wrote in response.
Some in the media have warned things may take a turn for the worse.
“Narrow-minded priggishness posing as patriotism has long been one of the less attractive features of our national life and Ram Gopal Varma would be prudent in keeping a weather eye open for stormy protests,” columnist Jug Suraiya wrote in The Times of India.
There have been some protests already.
Effigies of Varma and actor Amitabh Bachchan, the protagonist of “Rann”, were burnt in Ranchi.
But the filmmaker is unperturbed and plans to challenge the censor board decision.
Media reports have quoted Varma as saying he will now be taking the case directly to the Supreme Court.
“The promo has been refused certification without me getting any chance to explain my case,” Varma said. “Where is my freedom of expression?”
What do you think? Is the “Rann” song a new-age national anthem, a parody or just a publicity stunt?
(Reuters photos of a ‘Rann’ press conference in New Delhi)