By Sushil Kutty
The song ‘Manikya Malaraya Poovi’ of Oru Adaar Love, which went viral because Priya Prakash Varrier, the overnight Internet sensation, raised a couple of eyebrows with a wink, has landed in a police station in Hyderabad because it contains an ‘objectionable’ reference to Prophet Muhammad’s wife. In Mumbai, the Raza Academy wrote to the police commissioner, protesting against the song and its singular connotation. Railing to protect the image of dead human beings is a religious prerogative, and Muslims carry that privilege to extreme lengths.
Priya translates to ‘My love’, ‘Love’, ‘Beloved’. Asked what she felt being declared the ‘National Crush’ after winking to glory and fame, Priya Prakash Varrier expressed happiness: “I feel so happy to be loved by so many people.” Little did she know the “fringe” was waiting to invade, raise a couple of eyebrows of their own!
The ‘eyebrow and wink’ sequence is hardly 10 seconds and the much-maligned Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC) has already given its pass certificate to the film and the “offending” song Manikya Malaraya Poovi. It will be interesting to see how Censor Board chief Prasoon Joshi treats Oru Adaar Love. Will it be different from the way he went about clearing Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati?
Nipping off the ‘i’ from Padmavati was the solution he chose for Bhansali’s flick. But if he knocks of the ‘e’ at the end of Oru Adaar Love, it wouldn’t work because the problem is in the detail, not the tail. Joshi is pals with the Bollywood crowd. He had an interest-factor guiding his decision. Being a poet and writer, a definite ‘conflict of interest’, too. He might not have that same preference for Malayalam and Malayalee.
Besides, most important of all, the ‘Hindu’ is a punching bag. Hit the Hindu in the gut and if he doubles up and screams, stand over him and give him the full grim count, the judges outside the ring will without fail rule ‘technical knockout’ or ‘KO’, meaning the golden belt goes to his opponent. That is because the Hindu is supposed to have no sentiments, therefore, cannot be hurt!
But try the same stuff with the Muslim, and Joshi will have to climb a tree to escape being strung from a branch. The Karni Sena is no match to Raza Foundation, which has threatened to launch an India-wide movement if Manikya Malaraya Poovi is not taken off the movie, preferably off the charts, too.
The secret is nobody in Raza Foundation speaks Malayalam, understands Malayalam or writes Malayalam. These rabble-rousers of Mumbai just can’t do without a controversy. They have been hitting below the belt for a long time. Google and their exploits will out the cupboard in a flash.
As for the Hyderabad Spoilers, they are an engineering student and his businessman cousin, two people who want their 15-minute fame. Student Mohammed Abdul Muqeeth Khan and Abdul Kauser’s religious sentiments were hurt when they googled a translation of the Malayalam lyrics of Manikya Malaraya Poovi and found them to be “offensive” to Muslim nerves. Possible because they happen to live in Asaduddin Owaisi’s Hyderabad constituency.
Mercifully, the duo said they are not gunning for Priya Prakash Varrier. “We don’t want to take to the streets or organise people to protest. In fact, I too was floored by the clipping of the song, which went viral. But when I heard the complete song, I felt there is something wrong in the lyrics,” student Khan said. Cousin Kauser intends to take Manikya Malaraya Poovi to court. All part of a day in the life of an average Indian Muslim – nothing to raise an eyebrow.
Oru Adaar Love is slated to release this June. Now these Hyderabad heroes and their Mumbai Indian Muslim counterparts don’t know that Manikya Malaraya Poovi is not an overnight sensation like Priya Prakash. The song has been on Malayalee lips for 30 years, belted out at Malayalee Muslim weddings and functions without a single Malayalee Muslim raising an eyebrow.
The original track is a traditional Mapilla song from the 1970s that has been sung and enjoyed by people, said director Omar Lulu. He doesn’t see what the controversy is all about. The Malayalee Muslim is heads and shoulders above the petty politics and religious sentiments of Hyderabad cousins and their Mumbai brothers.
By the way, what has Hyderabad Police got to do with censoring a movie and a song? The police say they are “meticulously investigating the case” and that “appropriate action would be taken”. Isn’t the police assuming too much? No police interference was there in the case of Padmavati till the Karni Sena took to the streets and targeted a school bus.
Also, what is this about “police talking to the clerics”? What has bearded clerics got to do with the making and release of a movie? Somebody should remind law enforcement in Hyderabad that if anybody can “take action”, it is the Censor Board of Film Certification, not constable Pandu!
Manikya Malaraya Poovi is a lovely song, easy on the ear and pleasing to the sense. It doesn’t offend anybody’s wife, dead or alive. This whole thing about “hurting religious sentiments” has been brought down to a preposterously ridiculous level – a red herring to divert conversation, engineered! When two sets of eyebrows play tango, it is not for rabble-rousers to raise an eyebrow. And for once, a wink is not sly! (IPA Service)
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