When you pick up a flower that needs care and love, you do it with the sensitivity it deserves. If you are holding a dagger in your hand and mind is full of anger, then it is not about who you are and what you do to yourself, but what you do to another life that becomes critical.
32 year old Naeem Khan alias Guddu wanted to marry his friend’s sister – 15 year old Lakshmi Agarwal, who was constantly rebuffing him.
One day, Naeem Khan came along with his younger brother’s girlfriend and poured acid on Lakshmi’s face. And, she went from what she was in the left to the face on the right within a matter of seconds.
Lakshmi’s story and those like her are of flowers. Buds which were preyed upon by the devils in the society like Naeem, and saved as flowers.
The stories of such flowers need sensitivity, love and care to handle and nurture. Just like a flower, there is the danger of fragility giving in to the rough hand that holds it and the ethereal beauty withering away right in front of our own eyes.
When tales of human suffering are told, they need to be done within a certain sphere of grace, humility and reverence. The teller of the tale, the writer and the portrayal cannot be larger than the suffering.
If the primacy and the centrality of suffering is compromised even some, it becomes a mockery. Worse than the original crime.
You can leave the victims of unimaginable suffering like acid throwing, rape, or genocide alone without showing concern for them overtly and they will learn how to handle their grief, their fightback and their travails.
But, if you do want to engage, and show them the promise of their struggle being shared to the world for it merits a portrayal of a courage unbound, almost superhuman in psychological dimensions, then it has its norms. Maryada, if you will.
Once you put your hand on such an issue, then you cannot be there. Should not be there. It is only about the courage of the one who fought, inside and out. That person, no matter what you do, will stand far taller in every dimension that you can ever muster. You, as a writer, as the protagonist of a play or a movie or documentary are a pygmy. And, you need to acknowledge your own deficiency in front of such a superhuman being. Such as Lakshmi.
When Deepika Padukone went to JNU 3 days before her movie on Lakshmi was to open, while having by-passed all the other events or causes or victims of the professed cause – including the minorities languishing in India for several decades after they somehow made their way here as the devils in that society raped and murdered their daughters – there was a stink that emanated from that glossed veneer.
The stink of an actress assuming precedence over the story of unimaginable human suffering.
Lakshmis of the society were no more important. Daughters of the victims of hate who are central to CAA was not important. Thousands of poor students who somehow come to universities to study but are being held back because political mileage needs to be made by manufacturing dissent and anarchy, are also not important anymore.
Sale of a movie is.
Naeem Khan may have thrown acid on the beautiful self of Lakshmi. But Deepika, in her mockery of the story of that suffering, demeaned far more than acid victims.
She debased the trust that a victim in her complete fragility reposes in someone who professes to stand by her.
You see, in a world where Lakshmi is a brand-building opportunity for Spice PR company to create a value-add for their client, suffering is just a story. An interesting story. Which will be told and listened to by self-important people with their cocktails and pockets full of cash made from selling human suffering as a commodity. Well, some times as a luxury brand as well.
When the going price of our conscience is so low, Lakshmis will be tools and the fodder for the enterprise of human suffering and the profits it brings.