An Jo on Phantom

MILD SPOILERS…

I quite liked Phantom and am not sure what all the negativity is about. The BEST thing about it is it doesn’t have SALMAN KHAN [or actually any star; I mention Salman since Kabir works with him]. It then gives the makers some leeway into THINKING about other aspects of movie-making. With a below-average actor but a humongous star like Salman Khan, there is always the bait of ‘circling’ around the star. With Saif, there is none of the challenges! He is neither an above-average actor nor – obviously – a star. So Saif’s Daniyal Khan passes off quite well within the parameters of Phantom. It gels quite well with the basic plot – fetch an internet/face-book/twitter-dead Indian Army soldier cursed to anonymity and get him to join an outlandish plot – on paper at least – of bringing covert justice to the perpetrators of attacks on Bombay [there is a smart scene where even a terrorist like Hafeez Saeed’s character is shown twitter-feeding his rally! And in contrast, you have just one internet piece on a disgraced Indian soldier (quite liked the throw-back to Amitabh’s disgraced character in KAALA PATTHAR though). [By the way, this fellow with a moniker of ‘Harris’ Saeed is supposed to be some Professor in the eyes of ISI – you can quite well imagine where he got his ‘Professor’-ship from.]

Kabir Khan pleasantly surprised me with this: Mainly because he keeps his focus throughout. He doesn’t ‘meander’ onto by-lanes like he did with the utterly stupid NEW YORK [only Nawazuddin’s CRASH-inspired patrol-cop humiliation scene saved the film for me] and the pathetic ETT. ETT completely went off-line with ‘Salman Khan’, the star, taking over and the ‘love-story’ between Salman and Katrina taking precedence over ‘spy-antics.’ [Kabir should have watched Redford’s SPY GAMES at least 10 times before even attempting ETT]. Throughout PHANTOM, the slowly bubbling romance between Saif’s Daniyal and Kaif’s Nawaz is relegated to its rightful place – the back-log. That works big-time for the film, and more so in the TITANIC-ESQUE finale. It is cut-to-the-core for the screen-play writers in this movie. The running time is completely devoted to the ‘business’ of eliminating covertly the master-minds of 26/11 Bombay attacks. Very logically then, any ‘tender’ moments or feelings between Daniyal and Nawaz are just fleeting moments brought forth when they are walloping in loneliness in front of the fire-place.

The quest to regain respect – not jingoism— takes Daniyal to London to elimate Abu; to Chicago to eliminate Headley [the only most-wanted character NOT with a false moniker in the movie]; to Beirut to eliminate Qureshi; and finally to Pakistan itself to eliminate Saeed and Ummavi. He is aided by Dark Waters [another convenient moniker to the US’s pet BLACKWATER] security consultant Nawaz [Katrina] in his quest. Of course she is in only because of the pounds [and I mean the English currency] she is getting. Somewhere down the line the mission becomes a part of her too owing to her Parsi roots and thus to the ‘chai’ at or in-front-of Taj at Appolo Bunder (you see, in Bombay, you just cannot separate the Parsis from Taj!).

Now folks – going by Saket’s recent comments against BABY – might try to ‘uncover’ loop-holes in the plot and what not. Yes you might wonder at some convenient contrivances adopted by the plot. But this is NO greater than the ‘glossed-over’ plot-holes in many of the Hollywood flicks at least. This ain’t exactly TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY or even CHARLIE WILSON’S WAR. This is merely MISSION IMPOSSIBLE just wrench-worked with a wee-bit more realism. Coming to sophistication, there is really not much!! And not needed either. I mean here, you are dealing with a country’s administration that has the audacity to claim that Ajmal didn’t belong to Pakistan since his name didn’t show up in their data-base! Right I never realized India and Pakistan have such strong bio-metrics cross-check. You have some-one like Zaid Hamid [ a ‘security-consultant’ – go figure] who claimed that Ajmal was a RAW Hindu named Amar Singh—[I distinctly remember in 2008 thanking God that he didn’t name him Manmohan Singh – that would have been quite weird; not because he would have named India’s PM as a terrorist but because, quite frankly, I – and by extension, I am assuming almost the whole of India at that point in time – was quite skeptical of associating ‘activities’ with Manmohan]— just looking at the CCTVs and pointing out a ‘red’ dhaaga – yes that eternal indicator of a Hindu terrorist – on his wrist. Man, what eyes! Who actually needs a face-recognition software when you have such eyes?

Where Kabir fails in this endeavor is in the finale where the narrative suddenly takes a completely masala turn. This just doesn’t gel with the narrative laid out thus far. Even a fantastic actor like Zeeshan isn’t able to salvage a scene where he convinces the Indian Navy to enter Pakistani waters! [Kabir still tries his wit there by going ‘below’ Pakistani waters and not ‘above’ Pakistani waters]. If rhetoric will be what drives policies of these two nations, only God or whoever substitutes for him can save them. I have to admit, though, that Zeeshan’s reactions and the cycle chai-walla’s scene distributing free chai in front of the Taj on the anniversary of the attacks and on learning that the perpetrators have been brought to justice did have me well up. I admit I KNEW I was being manipulated but it sure was hard to resist.

After my ‘logical’ sense possessed me, I realized this might be the BEST way to attack plastic-brains like Shobaa De— or even The Goddess of ONLY words like Roy— who calls herself a ’Mumbaikar’ but brought in class/status into a horrific event claiming that TAJ was being given undue importance since the terrorists were killing ‘rich’ people. Here you have a road-side chai-wallah distributing chai right in front of the ‘rich’ people’s hotel since he too is affected by what happened at the Taj. No class there eh Shobaa?

One of the characters that really left a lasting-impression on me was Suhaila Kapoor’s Amina Bi. What a dignified presence and performance! As a lonesome mother who lost her son to the proxy wars, this is a fine, fine performance. She is never playing to the gallery and never under-playing either: A very fine balance indeed. Katrina seems to have hit the recidivist-syndrome with this movie. She lapses into bad acting so often that one’s memory goes back to her BOOM days. She looks beautiful indeed. But that’s like saying the sky is blue. Saif is adequate. As mentioned before, his lack of stardom works quite well for the movie. And to his credit, he does have his ‘mannerisms’ restrained. Zeeshan’s role could have been played by anyone.

Make no mistake; this movie is NOTHING MORE than an average Indian’s wet-dream. And it should not be construed as anything more. This is just a symptom of the proxy wars engaged by Pakistan. This is just the Hindi film industry’s milking of the situation – just as Hollywood milked the Cold-war scenario for decades. It might fail on many other levels, but it works as an entertainer. And that’s what worked for me.

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121 Responses to “An Jo on Phantom”

  1. Seems to be not such a bad movie as the critics are unanimously making it out to be!

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  2. tell the truth ,in pakistan they are livid with this film,although its banned there,watching it tomorrow and in need of the some cheerment after AIW dissapointment

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  3. What a delightful read….forget the movie…forget everything…just the word play and humor in the writing is AWESOME…someone please pay this guy to write reviews (sheesh I am totally copying Meryl Streep’s oscar speech here without exaggeration!). You need to quit your day job AJ and do this for a living. Seriously. Writing and reviews per se, without humor (should be totally banned) is constipated motions (copying piku here)…painful to read. LOVED it. Loved the humor. Loved the wordplay Please keep on writing (and yes, ignore OmRocky comments to my comments, because he gets jealous easily)

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    • What a funny review! Agree with review. But I would have loved little more realism like Baby in terms of treatment. But then Kabir Khan and Neeraj Pandey work on different planes.

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    • Thanks Di and Munna.

      Glad that you liked my thoughts Di. I am a very lazy writer and I just felt like writing something because I sensed a SEA of distance between what everybody/every-critic was saying about this movie and what I watched and I just didn’t feel it was that bad. It is not great, but it is not bad either. I mean they used words like ‘listless’, etc. while I felt the film moved at a frenetic pace.

      Hopefully you will catch it sometime soon…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent piece An Jo. Though I haven’t yet seen the film it seems to me you’ve got to the essence of things.

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    • Thanks Satyam. You might want to catch this if possible sometime. It does have rich production values and looks good on the big screen..

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  5. Read bits amd that’s a v good post by Ann
    Agree mostly But there are some points I disagree with

    ETT is an under rated piece of work and imo it’s the best film of Salman (other than dabang)–that’s perhaps a topic for another day..

    It’s become fashionable to diss katrinas ‘acting’ skills
    Here there’s a certain sense that most people miss. Even ‘greater’ film thinkers like Rangan/ Satyam have never really got this concept but will try to simplify it briefly …
    MOST people in REAL life do NOT have spot on body language, aren’t the best communicators (verbal and non verbal) and aren’t the most demonstrative of their emotion (or lack thereof)
    So it’s but natural that even in REEL life, u do NOT need a kangana or konkona or vidya balan in EVERY role..
    Yup katrina is incapable of a TWMR, a kahaani, but in Phantom or in ETT she is good enough, infact very effective (won’t say she’s a ‘handful’ to avoid mischief makers from haven’t a field day!)
    I will even say I LOVED katrina in ETT& even here she was v good

    U got the vibe of ‘phantom’ and the placement of saif nearly right.
    As for saif, will add that he’s a UNIQUE actor in Bollywood and one who doesn’t remind of anybody else
    But herein as the role of Daniyal demanded
    Saif is Untouchable in stuff like cock tail, or happy ending
    He underplayed here nicely did what was was meant for him to do –
    Be EXPENDABLE…

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  6. Contd from my comment here
    https://satyamshot.wordpress.com/2015/08/27/phantom-the-rest-of-the-box-office/#comment-313128

    Some suggestions–
    What this review may also benefit from
    Is reduced emphasis or ‘need’ to be politically correct,
    The ‘please everyone’ mentality is good to get votes but not here

    For eg the negative comments or criticism on baby by somebody else in a different thread were absolutely fake and unjust and should be called or for what they are!!!

    Also the good thing u seem to have been picking up is that flowery or heavy vocabulary is not a substitute for correct or apt ideation,
    Something that the likes of Rangan and co find so difficult to grasp…

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  7. omrocky786 Says:

    Great piece AnJo….could not watch it last weekend due to Rakhi …but watched Baby again on DVD…
    what a movie, and what a superb performance by Akhshay Kumar !!
    Aadat hai !!
    BTW- Obama also ordered a Name change…. Adarsh liberals are wondering how to react !!lol

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    • do you support name changes? Just checking!

      My own sense of these things is complicated. Name changes are as old as history itself. Yet at any precise point it is important to ask why the name change is being done and what politics it serves. Beyond this one must also distinguish between places that might have had other names and those that did not. For instance it’s absurd to change the name of VT or Marine Drive because both were created by the British and had no other name ever.

      Finally there is quite often a misplaced impulse behind such name changes. Leaving aside the politics there is a practical problem as I see it. History cannot be reversed or washed away, at least in this day and age where all records are preserved technologically, simply by changing names. But the reason one must be very careful about this logic is that we see how this path leads to those great ancient sites of the Mideast, some of the oldest surviving ones of human history (or almost), currently being blown up by the cancer that is ISIS.

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        Yes I do..
        Kalam was the head of the nation, Aurangzeb was the Beheader..lol

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        • just extended my earlier comment..

          The problem with this name change is that it’s utterly cynical.. Muslim for a Muslim so no Muslim ought to object! And of course this is one Muslim the Right loves! Meanwhile the Sena wants to rename Aurangabad.

          But if you support name changes you should be ok with older ones too.

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            But more than the Muslims the Adarsh liberal are objecting and making this point.
            Imagine agar name change would have been Guru Teg Bahadur Marg , tab toh qayamt aa gayee hotee…

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          • I never knew Sena [is it MNS or SS?] was suggesting name change for AURANGABAD. I mean I know in the past Balasaheb had suggested that; didn’t know that it was being propped up again. More than anything else, it suggests a ‘lack’ of priority on the part of the polity. When you expend your energy on such type of things, one knows what kind of development one can expect. The pot-holes in Nashik and Pune are giving the impression of Mars being a Dubai!

            Russell Peters has the best answer to such wasteful practices..

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Re,-More than anything else, it suggests a ‘lack’ of priority on the part of the polity
            So now erasing the name of a mass murderer projected as a hero by Sickulars suggests lack of priority ??
            Jai Ho !!!

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      • If things were made during British (or any era) then they should remain like that. If places and things had different name and were changed for whatever reason could be changed back.

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        • I’d agree.. but again the question is always about politics. People who are into these name changes never do it that logically. Because of course their goals are always political. This is why I keep saying that even that which is ‘unpleasant’ in history is still history. One might not like the idea of Muslim conquests or British rule or whatever but it’s not going anywhere. Hence any politics that tries to ‘reverse’ all of this has to engage in a certain kind of violence (leaving aside the quixotic nature of the enterprise). Now of course name changes are constantly done for political reasons. All sides, everywhere in the world are equally guilty in this sense. But the question is always about what politics is being served at any given point of time. Also it is about whether the changes are being done to satisfy a fictitious version of the past. So it keeps getting complicated. The problem is that all these questions come into play when name changes are discussed.

          I’d finally say as I always like to in these contexts that one cannot judge the past by the standards of the present. So not only is it about a mythologized understanding of the past which has little to do with facts but it is also equally about what the standards of any given age were. There are things that happen in the world today that are appalling but that would have been par for the course centuries ago.

          Getting back to the point in the context of contemporary Indian politics I don’t support most name changes whether it’s Aurangzeb Rd or Chennai or Mumbai or whatever. Because most of these come about in the service of a chauvinism or false nativism that has very little to do with the facts. In some cases I don’t have a problem with the individual change (I mind Aurangzeb rd less than Mumbai for example) but I nonetheless object equally because I don’t trust the politics either way.

          Now the rename of Mt McKinley (to use Rocky’s example) is a different matter because here no such chauvinism is being served. Here the move is the opposite. To restore a certain slice of the American (minority) past . The problem is that majorities in a right wing discourse pretend to be exterminated (or on the verge of extermination) minorities.

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Did I understand yourt point correctly-
            Name change for Minority is Shithachaar!!

            Name change to a National hero over a Mass murderer is – Atyachaar ?????

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          • No it’s a name change that reflects the highlighting of a slice of history that has been erased. If you name something in South Dakota after the Sioux it can hardly be said that you’re doing something chauvinistic. You’re celebrating a more or less exterminated nation. The naming of that mountain in Alaska does not serve any chauvinism related to the US nation-state. However if the opposite were done it would be a problem. The point is to give voice to those aspects of history and present day communities who don’t have enough of one, not to let those already in control become even more tyrannical!

            But again if one is going to call Aurangzeb a ‘mass murderer’ that is simply not a serious position. By any historical standard. There have been mass murderers in the past. Aurangzeb isn’t one by any stretch of the imagination. But again the question is whether one is interested in mythology or history? If the former one shouldn’t mind the fact that other folks bring their mythologies to the table also! one of these led to the nation across the border..

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          • Incidentally and to make this clear Aurangzeb is no kind of model emperor as far as I’m concerned but that doesn’t mean I won’t argue for history as opposed to the mythology surrounding him. Of course in the same circles Akbar himself is getting a bad name. So again it’s not just one king or the other, it’s about everyone who’s ever ruled India and who was a Muslim.

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          • omrocky786 Says:

            Re.-There have been mass murderers in the past. Aurangzeb isn’t one by any stretch of the imagination.
            Utha ley Rey Baba !! LOL!!

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          • LOL, I am all too aware of what a mass murderer really looks like and the bar is a rather high one. By the way I’m also not saying that anyone who’s not a mass murderer is ok. I’m just saying that Aurangzeb isn’t particularly atypical in any sense though not otherwise a figure I’m a fan of.

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          • There is fine line dividing chauvinism, jingoism, nationalism. Reading wiki page I think older name (Mt Mckinley) was just fine. Even Mt Everest has different local names.

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          • I don’t think Mt McKinley was a burning issue either. I don’t care that much about it one way or the other. But there is a larger symbolic message here. The idea is that you’re restoring a name from a obscure slice of history. Whether one agrees with the decision or not it’s not serving a larger chauvinistic nationalist purpose. But I would agree that even for that sort of symbolism one could pick better sites perhaps.

            The other point I’d make here is that there is this whole archive of ‘discovery’ attached to Europe or the ‘West’. In other words continents and mountains and so on somehow are ‘discovered’ by Western man and we never bother to wonder if this was indeed the case. ‘America’ was presumably not a discovery for those already inhabiting it! This is basically a discourse of colonization. Now does this mean one should start going back to the regional names in all these cases? One could after all rename everything in the United States! Of course not! And this is the point I was making in the Indian context as well. The history of colonialism is still history. It is part of human history. one doesn’t have to like it but it has to be acknowledged. And we already operate within that colonized space when we question a lot of these things. Because we rely on political and intellectual histories that also belong to the West (at least in their contemporary manifestation). For example India’s history is at this moment also a ‘Western’ one. Because the British ruled India and because the present Indian state has been fashioned after the Westminster model.

            I think the way one does both things at once is not by crudely changing names all over the place but by recognizing problems where they occur without reversing history. So there is a history of colonization that exterminated people from America to Australia which must be recognized but this doesn’t mean that we start giving Aborigine names to every part of Australia. This partly because the present state of Australia is a Western creation. Constantly trying to press the rewind button on history gives rise to dangerous mythologies and inevitably breeds more violence.

            Finally I’d say that there is no nationalism free of chauvinism or that dark side if you will. Which is why I always have a problem with words like ‘nationalist’ and ‘patriot’ and so on. And again it’s a simple logical exercise. If every country believes it is the best on the planet everyone can’t be right at the same time! In other words it’s a myth one subscribes to (for the most part) as part of the duties of citizenship. That’s all there is to it. People love any and every country they’re born in and are willing to die for any and every country. One can of course be attached to one’s country in a cultural sense and because of one’s roots and so on. There’s nothing odd about this. But this is different from believing that culture and country superior in some other sense. of course some cultures are richer for historical reasons. So India is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. It is one of the most important ones of human history. But that’s different from being nationalist in the contemporary sense of the term. Not least because those longer histories cancel out any attempts at nationalism if one reads them carefully. In any case how can every country be ‘nice’ or ‘great’ or ‘greatest’ at the very same time? But people still believe this. Some countries even believe they are the greatest in history (the US for example). So chauvinism is tied in with nationalism. Because one cannot really believe this stuff but also say it’s all relative.

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          • Anecdotal arguments may not be useful but for what it’s worth I’ve been to Denali twice, once at the national park and once on the mountain and I never came across a single person including NPS rangers who called it McKinley.

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          • thanks GF.. this is useful to know. had no idea.

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          • Of course, the irony is that Flora Fountain, VT and Bombay still survive in the oral traditions. But I guess that is the sinister motive behind any ‘legal’ change of name. That which eventually survives only in oral tradition is deemed illegitimate, and legitimacy is accorded to that which is in written history.

            The farce of it all, if it were not downright sad, is that a party which went about renaming every terminal and terminus on Shivaji is now proposing for a part of the erstwhile Shivaji Park to be named after Bal Thackeray!

            And the Bard said What’s In A Name! Bah!

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          • yes quite true.. I’ve had that experience myself.. you mention the new names and the cab drivers and so on look funny at you. But again these things stick over time. Flora Fountain is a particularly good example. If you have to even rename fountains it’s a rather sorry state of affairs!

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          • Re: “Of course in the same circles Akbar himself is getting a bad name. So again it’s not just one king or the other, it’s about everyone who’s ever ruled India and who was a Muslim.”

            Of course, which is why things begin with Aurangzeb, but won’t end with him. Because similar arguments can be used against any number of other “Muslim rulers” (at least some temples were destroyed during the reigns of Jahangir, Shah Jahan, Akbar as well, for instance). Meanwhile, rulers associated with other sorts of atrocities (e.g. the Peshwas and the sort of Dalit repression that state was associated with) get a free pass, as if there is no other sort of violence to reckon with. Stated differently, the Muslim ruler needs to pass standards of 21st century liberalism, but other rulers need not (actually neither do our current rulers!)…

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          • Hey when even Di doesn’t want to get rid of Mughal cuisine you know that cultural politics isn’t going to dislodge them!

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          • Re: “Constantly trying to press the rewind button on history gives rise to dangerous mythologies and inevitably breeds more violence.”

            It’s also nationalism on the cheap, by people who are bereft of other ideas. Take the Sena’s renaming as an example: it’s obvious that the party is not going to be the source of any new/great/creative ideas on how to acknowledge and celebrate Shivaji’s legacy (among other things, because the Sena is very far from the great man’s legacy), so a “low cost” way of going about things is to simply slap a “Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj” sticker on The Prince of Wales Museum, or VT, or what have you. Literally nothing ELSE is done about it.

            …and that’s precisely why these sorts of moves are dangerous: because the material conditions don’t really change (Modi’s economic policy is essentially the same as UPA’s), the temptation to wage cultural war cannot be resisted, as that is the ONLY kind of meaningful change that can be implemented.

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        • “The history of colonialism is still history. It is part of human history. one doesn’t have to like it but it has to be acknowledged. ” I have never heard/read more illogical statement than this one!!

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        • Re: “If things were made during British (or any era) then they should remain like that.”

          Generally agree, although Aurangzeb Road presents a challenge: the road was built by the British and names by them (clearly to draw a link between the Raj and past “great emperors”, hence there is a road in Lutyens’ Delhi named after every one of the six “Great Mughals”).

          Aside: I find it very offensive to rename in favor of a “good Muslim” to replace a “bad Muslim”, as if the former must bear the weight of the latter. If one had to rename it, I would have preferred to rename in favor of Sheikh Sarmad, Guru Tegh Bahadur, or — my favorite of the suggestions made — Dara Shikoh. To rename in favor of someone who had no connection to Aurangzeb and is from a completely different symbolic universe (except for the one that matters to Sanghis: Muslim) leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.

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      • “Leaving aside the politics there is a practical problem as I see it. History cannot be reversed or washed away, at least in this day and age where all records are preserved technologically, simply by changing names.”
        Utterly stupid logic by someone who hasn’t travelled in India and gone to various temples for instance. It was shiva temple (frm so and so BC), ; then krishna (shivalingam gone and Krishna is the deity bet. x-y years); then shiva; then krishna….and it goes on…and it is all here to see in present day even! Who is talking history. We are talking present as we are making history in the present! It is about present pride, current memory and not about spinelessness. If it was me, I would erase ALL mughal names because all of them were cruel with Aurangzeb being the worst of the lot.

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        • “If it was me, I would erase ALL mughal names because all of them were cruel with Aurangzeb being the worst of the lot.”

          the ISIS folks would agree with you.. hope you won’t move anytime soon..

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          • And ISIS is gently renaming things right!?!

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          • nor are you.. as the violence of your comments in all of these contexts reveals! Bigotry would be a kind word for the views you routinely express.

            I don’t mind anyone on any side of the political spectrum. One can disagree with a lot of things but with folks like yourself there’s no debate to be had. Yours is the mindset that leads to pogroms. And worse.

            My mistake though.. I shouldn’t have engaged with Rocky and opened up the topic more. We have our friendly disagreements and I at least always enjoy them. But with someone like you it’s a different deal altogether.

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          • “Bigotry would be a kind word for the views you routinely express.” And it can happen ONLY in India!! Where majority are bullied and called bigoted (for wanting to do something as simple and innocent as changing a name, that too of a street, and that too to anoher minority person who is a good role model that can be adored, admired and looked up to by one and all) and Aurangzeb is worshipped. Ulti ganga behti hai yaha..ulta chor kutwal ko dante. The person-blogowner whose first most favorite word is pogram (followed by bourgeois) doesn’t see the irony of original pogram chieftan! And to come to think of it, all mughal rulers perpetuated pogram, if you read Aakar Patel.

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          • “no debate to be had.”
            You are a very sore loser Satyam. :-)))

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          • Re: “And it can happen ONLY in India!! Where majority are bullied and called bigoted …”

            If you think the majority want the names of every Mughal emperor erased from India’s cities, you’ve been living in a different country than the one I’ve been living in for the last five years.

            PS– to say that Aurangzeb is “worshipped” borders on the hysterical. With the exception of some ultra-orthodox Sunnis and local folk who go to his tomb in Khuldabad, I’m not aware of anyone “worshipp[ing]” the man or hailing him as a hero, in any of India’s religious communities.

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          • It’s sometimes useful to remind oneself that the BJP got 31% of the vote last time. Even with allies it was around 38%. That’s well short of other huge elections in the past. Perhaps the comparison is not fair when one compares it to Rajiv Gandhi’s victory or Nehru’s or whatever. But if it is going to be called a massive sea change election or whatever these numbers have to be pointed out. I bring this up in this context to amplify your point. Indeed the vast majority of Hindus are not for any of this nonsense either. It’s also too easy to make it a majority/minority thing. Of course this is an old political trick as well. And even within those 31% there are very large numbers of those who went for (or fell for) the ‘development’ project. So the appeal was a technocratic one here. had they fought the election on this sort of cultural politics and so forth they would have been no closer to victory than they have been in the past. Yes it was a Modi deal but Modi also packaged himself as a technocrat. Anyway don’t wish to start a political discussion here except in defense of the vast majority of the majority in India! But I’ve said this in the past. Before all else Hindus have to be defended or shielded from Hindutva! The good thing though is that in India and for all sorts of reasons the majority will never be persuaded of this message. The numbers so far bear this up, even in this wave election.

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      • Re: “For instance it’s absurd to change the name of VT or Marine Drive because both were created by the British and had no other name ever.”

        Exactly: that’s also why there is a difference between renaming Aurangabad (the city was founded by Aurangzeb and was for a brief period the capital of the Mughal Empire) and Benares or Baroda (those cities have always been called Varanasi/Kashi or Vadodara in the native languages). The latter set of renamings is akin to the Denali/McKinley example (the Inuit have ALWAYS called it Denali, and still do; it’s the English name that is of recent vintage), whereas the former is done to ERASE a certain history. All renamings/namings serve political agendas, but merely erasing important pieces of our history is highly problematic.

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  8. omrocky786 Says:

    Anand Ranganathan ‏@ARangarajan1972 · 44m44 minutes ago
    A well-dressed NDTV panellist says “We should let History be.” So why did Congress remove ol’ George from India Gate?

    Every time I drive on Delhi’s Aurangzeb Road, I wonder; I wonder why there isn’t a Hitler Road in Tel Aviv.

    And why was the silence of those now protesting of library thickness, when UR Ananthamurthy got Bangalore changed to Bengaluru? Shhh…

    Govt should also consider changing the names of SEVERAL other cities and towns based on popular DEMAND.” – UR Ananthamurthy, Shiv Sena MP.

    Plus- CP renamed Rajiv Gandhi Chowk !

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    • It’s particularly rich for a Sena MP to be saying this given that Bal Thackeray was also a Hitler admirer. But leaving this aside this is the larger stupidity (to be kind about it) that is served by such politics. The equation of Hitler and Aurangzeb. Gimme a break. I’m hardly a fan of the latter but let’s be serious! There’s no connection between the two ideologically or otherwise. Put differently what would India look like if Aurangzeb were like Hitler?!

      But one must take this further. Even the ultimate conqueror ‘demon’ in this whole discourse — Mahmud of Ghazni. there’s nothing special about what he did in India given the standards of his day. People were doing far worse to their own co-religionists in other parts of the world (Central Asia and so on). Similarly (and this is borne out by the research) the idea that many of these conquerors were out there just to destroy temples or to loot the richest ones is also false (the documentary evidence belies any such claims.. lots and lots of very important temples weren’t touched.. yes many were looted and desecrated.. but many others weren’t.. either way the actions were not unusual in that period). They did things that were fairly typical for their age (among all kinds of conquerors… and it didn’t take conquerors even.. the same kind of plunder was performed by Hindu rulers against Buddhist temples and rulers and so on and to the point where the religion was chased out of India.. in the land of it’s birth there are hardly any Buddhists to speak of! eventually Buddhist temples were running armies in Japan and in the contemporary world we see their excesses from SL to Burma..).

      History offers lots of morality tales. But only for the human species. Not for particular groups or ethnicities or religions or nations or whatever. Humans behave the same way given similar contexts. Hence any cautionary tale about history must include everyone. When one picks and chooses one is always following a certain politics. of course in any given context one of course has to choose but without pretending it’s a problem with a particular group in general. There are blood-soaked centuries in history and no one’s hands are clean. Quite literally.

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      • omrocky786 Says:

        Sir that was satire by Anand Ranganathan, –
        UR Krishnamurthy is by no means a Shiv Sena MP ….LOL

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      • “People were doing far worse to their own co-religionists in other parts of the world (Central Asia and so on).”
        IF someone gave you a stupid name or a vulgar name, would you not have right to change it?!?! Do you have to go around rest of your life with that name? There was a village in Maharastra that had name like Kulla (which means buttocks) back when I was growing up. So they petitioned and changed it to sound more decent. Recently Shivnagar changed to snapdeal.com nagar. So what? Name changes in present is ALSO creation of history for future to consume!! I don’t want to live on Aurangzeb nagar or galli. So british were stupid and ruled me and did that, doesn’t mean I have to suffer that name for rest of MY lifetime. So the analogy of hitler is correct in the context.!

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        • no of course not but you would not just have to rename things but remove every structure, every stone, brick and bit of dust constructed by Muslims or Britishers in India, you’d have to erase every word they’ve contributed to the languages of India (and stop speaking English while you’re at it), banish every last bit of Mughal or British cuisine, all the artistic influences, etc etc. And when you’ve finally achieved this modest aim you can start taking care of all those who are not ‘Hindus’ in India. You see I chose the ISIS example with care! And if you like the Hitler analogy it takes one to know one! Now after you’ve achieved all of these modest goals you might want to start living in your country again…

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          • “you would not just have to rename things but remove every structure, every stone, brick and bit of dust constructed by Muslims or Britishers in India, you’d have to erase every word they’ve contributed to the languages of India ”
            And you call me extremist. lolz. Given a choice, I would gladly rename Abdul Kalam to be my street name because there is positivity associated with it. If changing name is ‘violent’ in your hyperbole then so be it!!!

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    • What really disheartened me watching the TV debates on the renaming issue was that all Muslim panelist showed their liking towards Aurangzeb , they were just using the renaming ”
      historical road” argument as a ruse.
      Even Mihir Sharma the guy I hate and who is against renaming showed his disliking towards Aurangzeb, but Muslim panelist after panelist could not muster courage to say that he was wrong.
      They actually admired Aurangzeb and dream of having a Aurangzeb like figure rule India again.
      I was really disturbed, and no amount of long essays will convince me otherwise.

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      • Yes but some of the folks you admire on the other side are considered exactly like Aurangzeb by the Aurangzeb-admirers. And vice versa. This is the whole problem. We never quite see the extremism in people we like. When we don’t like people the ‘truth’ is always obvious, any facts to the contrary are inconvenient things to be dismissed. We prefer believing in myths rather than testing them out in ways because we prefer clinging to ‘belief’ in these matters. Belief in the myths we have either grown up with or learnt to invest in. On the other hand when we like people then any such claims by the other side are only evidence of the that side’s madness and unreasonableness. So people keep talking past each other. We cannot hold on to all our own positions without submitting them to any ‘tests’ of any kind (historical or otherwise) but expect others to change their minds.

        I incidentally saw Mihir Sharma on NDTV on this topic. I actually thought he was trying to pay lip service to a certain thought on Aurangzeb. The whole ‘hey I’m not a fan of Aurangzeb but on this issue…’. The falseness here is in the initial claim. Because no one can really dare to say publicly ‘what’s the big deal about Aurangzeb’?! I frame this here in a rather radical way but then one must never avoid such statements simply to ‘negotiate’ in these matters. I mean here exactly what I said the other day. I too am no Aurangzeb fan because I am not a fan of that Puritanical type anywhere in the world, at any point in history. But whether there is something historically atypical about him, whether he deserves the reputation he’s acquired in many quarters is a wholly different matter. And here I’d answer in the negative. But again the subject is complicated. Could one argue that Aurangzeb might have been a disruptive force in many ways inasmuch as he represented the withering of the Akbar compact in these matters? Sure! Did his Puritanical instincts create an atmosphere that was toxic in certain ways? Sure! Even if the Mullahs had been resurgent since his father’s reign (that’s another discussion). But to go from all of this to ‘Hindu-killer’ is ridiculous.

        One doesn’t have to defend any excess in history. The question is whether the excesses of one figure or another went far beyond the pale given the contexts of that age. Again we can’t use the standards of our age. Keeping slaves was a horrible practice and also completely common once. If we’d been born in those contexts we’d be slave owners too! The question then is whether one slave owner was cruel in a way that was par for the course for that time or whether he was better or worse than this.

        And again unfortunately the two nation theory has been a bit too successful. Because people on both sides now read this into the entire history of India or use it as a template for everything going back. For everything that every happens the ultimate fault line seems to be the Hindu-Muslim one. This is utter nonsense. But it’s our reality. This is really the terrible legacy of this idea. And to stick to the subject of Mughal history there was no such defining fault line for most of that period. Which is to say these labels were not unimportant but they were often outweighed by other social and political considerations. Again one just has to examine the history.

        I’m guilty of yet another essay! but again one can stick to an extreme position or keep investing in the myth. The other side does exactly the same. Both equally believe they have truth on their side because neither really wants to be tested by any more objective standard. And so it goes on..

        The hardest thing in life is shedding the ‘truths’ we are most comfortable with..

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        • “some of the folks you admire on the other side are considered exactly like Aurangzeb by the Aurangzeb-admirers.”
          Now HOW I wish THAT was real truth, nothing but truth. If that was the case, you would know it and won’t be sitting on some panel to throw your weight around. hahah

          Liked by 1 person

        • “he deserves the reputation he’s acquired in many quarters is a wholly different matter. And here I’d answer in the negative”
          You need to shed this truth that you are comfortable with! Your true colors are coming out ‘satyam’!

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          • I’ve been accused of all sorts of things from Hindu communalism to Muslim communalism (for those who might not be aware this is literally true in each case!). As a Desai fan I eagerly await the day when I will be accused of Christian communalism! But as a general matter extremists like yourself have a habit of engaging in all kinds of attacks when they don’t like the message. Can’t say I’m bothered in the slightest by this stuff. At least not on a blog! Maybe in a real world situation where one can be killed or beaten in many parts of the world for saying many kinds of things I might decide to be a bit more practical (!) but online I have no reason to.

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          • “extremists like yourself ” So are you! You have extreme views on everything starting from abhishek to aurangzeb :-)))

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          • There’s one more extreme view I hold.. that in a somewhat ‘democratic’ setup even you should be allowed to air your views..

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        • Re.- Because no one can really dare to say publicly ‘what’s the big deal about Aurangzeb’?!
          That was my point, watch Zee news debate- the Muslim panelists openly said there was nothing wrong in Aurangzeb, and that if he destroyed temples then he also destroyed mosques and that makes him even.
          The point is that secretly most Muslims long for another Aurangzeb …
          On your other point- by your logic then Germany should not be paying compensation to the holocaust victims, Somnath Temple should not have been rebuilt by Patel.
          By your logic the massacre at Jaliawala Bagh was par for the course , given the context at that time !!
          Kya sir , kuch bhee ???

          P.S.-The Icing was even Keju baba praised the decision so Aaptards are totallu confused. LOL !!

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          • The University of Texas at Austin removed a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis on Sunday.In March the UT student body had voted for the statue to be removed from its prominent spot on campus. The Sons of Confederate Veterans had sued to prevent UT from moving the statue, but lost.
            http://time.com/4017022/jefferson-davis-statue-removed/?xid=tcoshare

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          • so what? A lot of this symbolism takes place all over the world. I’d say the same for Jefferson Davis. He wasn’t atypical. There might have been some of those on his side but he certainly wasn’t one of them. I’m not against all changes. Some are more problematic than others, some more defensible than others. Taking down the Confederate flag as a symbol of slavery might be one thing but if someone said they wanted to remove Andrew Jackson’s name wherever it occurred because he went after Seminoles and so on with a particular aggressiveness I would have less sympathy. Not because I disagree but again because he wasn’t necessarily atypical. Why doesn’t this apply to the Confederate flag? Because in this day and age to keep flying it outside a State Capitol is far more potent a symbol. Otherwise there are still all kinds of streets and squares and what not named after important pro-Slavery figures in the South. I don’t have an issue with this. That is the history. Again when you get into someone like Hitler that’s an extreme example. But there’s a lot of violence out there that doesn’t rise to this level and which is sadly enough historically commonplace. If one wanted to change the name of every street in the South bearing such a name nothing would be more absurd than this.

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          • But note I’m not saying ‘everything’ is par for the course. Jalianwalabagh is not a common occurrence in the British history of India. But there are plenty of other things they did that are deeply disturbing without rising to Jalianwalabagh status. Extending the same argument Aurangzeb is precisely not the Holocaust! Wouldn’t India’s population distribution be rather different if he were? Much as the population of Jews in Germany and many parts of Europe is dramatically different now than it once was.

            Now on the destruction of temples the point is that in all ages of human history this is what conquerors did as a matter of course. Sometimes for the riches (which doesn’t then make it a anti-Hindu deal! they would have sacked churches as easily!), sometimes to subjugate the local population by destroying important symbols of their cultural heritage. I of course don’t think this is all ‘ok’ but it certainly is par for the course. It is what Christians did to other christians, to Muslims to jews, it is what Muslims did to christians, to Hindus, it is what Hindus to other Hindus, Buddhists… the list goes on in all sorts of permutations. The question only is: what history are we looking at? Now if one wants to believe in a mythology where before the advent of Muslim conquerors India was an abode of peace and tranquility where nothing ever happened and everyone loved everyone else that’s one’s problem. But that’s not something the historical record shows. Much as the idea that everyone in India was a ‘Hindu’ before the Muslims showed up is equally absurd. This very label is a British invention. This however could constitute a different discussion. Getting back to the point at hand humans have done this throughout time. Destroyed each other in the ways I’ve mentioned. When Mahmud of Ghazni enters India there is no special status that a ‘Hindu’ has in his mind. For him this is just another way of live he encounters as a conqueror or marauder wherever he goes. He went to other places not populated by Hindus where he did the very same things. Again there was no Muslim-Hindu fault line then. Even the Muslim/non-Muslim fault line didn’t mean much in many of these cases. in the history of the last 1000 years in Central Asia and Iran and so on the worst crimes were quite often committed by Muslims against other Muslims. Many of the worst crimes were committed by Christians against other Christians in Europe before the Holocaust. The question then is whether what Mahmud of Ghazni did in India was atypical for his times. This is the only question worth asking. Otherwise in a historical vacuum I’d say that all of these are equal crimes and none of it is justifiable. When you build pyramids with slave labor, when you more or less do the same to build all the great monuments of the world, including temples and taj mahals and what not.. you can admire the aesthetic wonder of these buildings but consider the human cost that went into all of these. But again this wasn’t atypical for the longest time in the history of the world.

            Until relatively modern times in Indian history it didn’t really matter to the average farmer or whoever whether the ruler was Muslim or Hindu or British. Because their lives were more or less the same. In pre-democratic, pre-nationstate times the principal fault lines were always of class not of religion or the latter weren’t defining ones for the most part. In the Mughal court some of the most important people (and allies) were Rajput princes (and others like them). This ‘combine’ if you will worked against other Hindu rulers in India but also Muslim ones. Again there were all sorts of permutations. The idea that the story ended with being Hindu or Muslim is ‘our’ perspective, it wasn’t theirs. Nonetheless religious zealots rose up from time to time everywhere and Aurangzeb might have been one but despite the zealotry he wasn’t doing anything utterly extraordinary. Had he done that he would have been a far less successful king than he was. He conquered more territory that any Mughal previously had. In a country the size of India you can’t really be that successful if you make enemies out of the the overwhelming majority of the population on religious grounds and certainly the princes who ruled them! That’s ridiculous. If Aurangzeb were that crazy he wouldn’t have lasted very long. Again all of this isn’t a defense of Aurangzeb, it is one of the historical record.

            On the rest I am not saying that temples shouldn’t be rebuilt or compensation not be paid or whatever. But there is plenty that happens in history that is deeply disturbing but that is also ‘mundane’ by the historical standards of that age. Yes it is true that people retain these grievances over centuries, more than this nationalist movements centuries later feed or even create these archives of resentment and the result is just more violence. Whoever does it. I absolutely refuse to take sides in such economies of violence. Nothing is more inhuman than this.

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          • by the way in terms of what Muslim panelists are saying about Aurangzeb I obviously don’t support that sort of foolishness. But note how this comes about. they feel they are under attack and this is the latest example of the same. So quite often it’s not really a literal defense. In any case I can’t say I am ever with most panelists on anything (though I love consuming cable news!).

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          • “It is what Christians did to other christians, to Muslims to jews, it is what Muslims did to christians, to Hindus, it is what Hindus to other Hindus, Buddhists… the list goes on in all sorts of permutations.” So basically what you are saying is its ok to remove babri for ram temple, right? 😉

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          • yes.. if you’re still operating by 10th century standards..

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          • “Not because I disagree but again because he wasn’t necessarily atypical. ” by gawd satyam…you are streching logic with your extremism like pizza dough. kuch toh logic banta hai. Agar puraney jamaney mai rape hote the, doesn’t mean we condone it and adorn it (gving extreme example here). We can show to the world that we have grown and we condemn it in present age, no?

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          • yes but here you want to commit revenge rapes and revenge destructions and what not..! You don’t have any standing in this matter. You’ll need to cure your own extremism first. Of course you don’t really have to. This disease is by no means uncommon. You are the very thing you pretend to hate.

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          • “yes but here you want to commit revenge rapes and reveng”
            boy you can twist my words. ANyhow, I agree with munna and agree to disagree. If you get elected, keep the road names same as b4. 🙂

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          • No I’m all for changing all the names.. but as I said the other day one must not stop with this. One must remove every last brick of every last structure, one must purge the languages of any such vocabulary, one must ban any influences in cuisine or elsewhere in the arts, banish all those who insist on clinging to their minority faiths. Once one has done all of this one must begin the project of digging up the graves and banishing skeletons (or Hamlet-like skulls.. as the case might be) belonging to these minority faiths as well. One must be thorough in these matters. Otherwise what’s the point?

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          • “One must remove every last brick of every last structure, one must purge the languages of any such vocabulary,….every brick…every mortar…”
            Now THAT is extremism. I can understand changing name of someone who was original originator of pograms and has such negativity connected to it. I can understnad people living on street name like “dawood ibramin” being embarrased. Why change mughlai cuisine which has nothing to do with tyranny!

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          • why not? It comes from the same ‘outsider’ doesn’t it?! So now when I take your thinking to its logical conclusion you suddenly recoil! Or do you want to make this even more absurd and just remove Aurangzeb’s contributions but leave those of the other Mughals intact? Just destroy the stuff he built! But many older Muslim rulers did similar things. One would have do the same there. Perhaps a ledger should be created with good Muslim ruler on one side and bad on the other. Then one could proceed to remove those bits of cuisine and art and architecture and administrative projects and so on that precisely can be traced back to the ‘bad’ rulers but leave others intact. Of course even on your side no one would agree with the choices. For many no Muslim ruler is by definition a good one. Hence one would be back to the position of removing everything. You’re a bit behind the times. These days Akbar is being questioned quite a bit too. If Aurangzeb were truly banished from popular memory the others would follow. Such craziness only leads to other craziness. I still say my plan is the best one and only follows from your own positions. Why should the skeletons of those who might have fought for Aurangzeb be allows to rest peacefully in Indian soil? They should be uprooted and exiled.

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          • phir se shuru…lol. You won’t even let me change MY own name on this blog. ROFLOL. So controlling. Chalo koi nayi. Aab ke liye itna hi kafi hai. Now on to eating some nice ‘mughlai’ cuisine the name I have changed at home already. 🙂

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          • IF stalin had three bad fingers, then we should chop those three only, no? Why chop the whole hand 😉

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          • Glad to hear you say that because this is a very different position you’ve now arrived at! All it takes is Mughal cuisine for one to become a sellout! Ha! You see how hard it is to do these surgical operations on the outsider’s influence?

            of course this still leaves the Aurangzeb problem intact. He might have made positive contributions in those other areas too. If the same person does both good and bad does one rename a street or not?

            My solution is an easier one. the long and great history of Indian civilization can by no means be equated with ‘Hindu’ even if this has of course been one of its predominant strands (leaving aside the vexing and vexed question of how ‘Hindu’ is to be defined). In any case it incorporates lots of other seminal influences from the Muslim to the British. Influence is never just a question of numbers, it’s about much more important seismic shifts. This is once again a great civilization that absorbs all of these. Those Muslim kings, specially the Mughals, became ‘Indian’ beyond a point. The history of the British in India is part of a larger history of colonialism but it is equally part of this longer arc of Indian history and which in turn has influenced the British themselves. Any civilization that endures for thousands of years has to be elastic enough to evolve in all sorts of ways and to absorb these influences. The result is a ‘masala’! You cannot remove the individual ingredients once the dish has been prepared. One might wonder why certain spices were introduced int he preparation and why not others, at what stage all of this happened but at the end of the day the only question is whether the dish is flavorful or not. If you try to disintegrate it into its original elements or remove something you’re left with a mess. This is how history works everywhere. You might not like certain strands depending on your political views but you cannot remove it either. Nor can you pick or choose in the way you think. Eitehr exercise reads to great violence. But if the civilization weren’t so elastic in the first place it would never be great. There is no case in history of cultural monomanias leading to great civilizations. People can say things at a political level but these things nonetheless happen. BJP mouthpieces on tv quote Urdu poetry with Islamic imagery to make their political points. The irony is quite lost on many including themselves! Much as you stumble the moment it becomes about Mughal cuisine!

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      • Re: “I was really disturbed, and no amount of long essays will convince me otherwise.”

        Re: “The point is that secretly most Muslims long for another Aurangzeb …”

        Perhaps you should also ask about why and how TV panels are chosen; clearly for maximum sensationalism, no? To infer something about people at large from the circus these TV channels try to put together is a bit much Rocky sahab! To say that “most Muslims long” for another Aurangzeb is just crazy.

        [Sometimes what you also see is fear operating: people worried that if “we” give ground on Aurangzeb then someone will say “What about Jahangir? Didn’t he in three instances order temples to be destroyed?” and inch by inch one’s nose will be rubbed in it. And then you also see people irritated by hypocrisy — as I have said on previous occasions, from a Dalit perspective it is hard to imagine a worse regime than the one the Peshwas instituted (one of the reasons so many flocked to join the East India Company’s armies), but no-one ever talks about renaming anything associated with them!

        Personally, I have not seen the panelists you mention so won’t comment, but my point is that don’t assume that they “represent” 180 million others! And second, holding a gun to someone’s head isn’t the best way to get them to face up to problematic histories (e.g. will you have a proper discussion of caste if the context is some UN forum against discrimination, as opposed to an Indian forum where people won’t feel the pressure that they somehow have to “stand up” for India?]

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  9. Saw the movie, was well made and engaging. Ending could have been better.

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  10. On the debate. Aurangazeb reminded us of a bad ruler who ill treated his own relatives. Now that reminder is gone to some extent. Renaming has become a craze among all political parties. It started long back.
    Why Kalam is associated with his religion? He is above religion.
    It is convenient to say that only a good muslim is replacing a bad muslim.
    Delhi has a rich Mughal history good and bad. It is sad to see every road is being named after all the political leaders mainly from the congress party and faithfully followed by others.
    I agree with Satyam rulers cant be taken out of their times and habits.

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  11. A Pakistan court has banned the film ‘Phantom’ on the plea of 26/11 plotter Hafiz Saeed. Is the image of a terrorist more important than justice for 26/11 victims? In times of failed talks and under the shadow of terror, can culture and cinema make any difference in the Indo-Pak relations?

    http://www.ndtv.com/video/player/the-buck-stops-here/pakistan-s-phantom-paradox-free-run-for-terror-ban-on-film/380236?pfrom=nri_videowidget_cat_1

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  12. THE NEW YORK TIMES

    MOVIE REVIEW
    Review: ‘Phantom,’ on the Trail of Mumbai Terrorists

    Katrina Kaif and Saif Ali Khan, in deadly pursuit of Mumbai terrorists.

    JOE DSOUZA / UTV MOTION PICTURES AND NADIADWALA GRANDSON ENTERTAINMENT

    By RACHEL SALTZ

    AUGUST 30, 2015

    Daniyal (Saif Ali Khan) and Nawaz (Katrina Kaif), the hapless secret agent heroes of Kabir Khan’s revenge thriller “Phantom,” could have used some pointers before being sent into the field.

    For starters, Nawaz: If you see a suspect two rows behind you at a cricket match, you can tell Daniyal, but first remind him not to whip his head around to take a look. And if you’re collecting cigarette butts for evidence at the stadium, try to be a bit sly. Wiggling around on the ground between seats until a young fellow with a broom demands that you get up and out of the way may call undue attention to yourself.

    And, oh yes, Daniyal: If you go to elaborate lengths to have yourself sent to prison in Chicago to eliminate a fellow inmate, have your handlers check to see if he’s about to be moved to another facility before you go to the trouble of excreting a battery (Did you swallow it? Well, points for that!) and executing the rest of your overly complicated kill setup.

    “Phantom” starts with news footage of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai. A voice-over tells us that the men responsible for their planning remain at large, sleeping peacefully beyond the grasp of India. Daniyal, the phantom of the title, is a disgraced Indian Army officer recruited to kill these men one by one in an extrajudicial way. After all, says a RAW agent (it stands for Research and Analysis Wing, India’s C.I.A.), if America can do it …

    The director Kabir Khan, who wrote the script with Parveez Shaikh, likes city-wrecking action sequences. After the opening documentary footage, we get a bang-up car chase, which moves us deep into movieland. Daniyal’s killings, full of pointless details and ginned-up obstacles, also reside squarely in this realm. (Nawaz is usually nearby swatting at problems.)

    Mr. Khan, whose movies include “Ek Tha Tiger” and “New York,” is consistently drawn to the same themes: terrorism, Pakistani and Indian relations, what it means to be a Muslim in Indian culture. In “Phantom,” he amps up the rah-rah Indian nationalism, though it is specifically not Hindu nationalism. Nawaz is apparently a Parsi, and Daniyal, at least in name, is a Muslim. First and foremost, though, they are Indian patriots.

    Phantom

    Opened on Friday

    Directed by Kabir Khan; written by Mr. Khan and Parveez Shaikh; director of photography, Aseem Mishra; edited by Aarif Sheikh; music by Pritam; production design by Rajat Kapoor, Sukant Panigrahi, Zeina Nawar and Paul McCulloch; costumes by Subarna Ray Chaudhuri; produced by Sajid Nadiadwala and Siddharth Roy Kapur; released by UTV Motion Pictures. In Hindi, with English subtitles. Running time: 2 hours 28 minutes. This film is not rated.

    WITH: Saif Ali Khan (Daniyal) and Katrina Kaif (Nawaz).

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  13. duniya waalon, yeh Phantom ka thread hai!!
    Sab log apne vicharron mei adig hain.
    Aap log vichorron mei matbhedh hone par sahmati zaahir karein, aur aage badhein.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. The song from Chetana is “Teri Galiyon Mein Na Rakhenge Kadam” though. “Yeh Galiyan Yeh Chaubara” is Prem Rog.

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    • Yeah realized the mistake and deleted the comment.

      The song from Chetna is “Har mod par”

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      • Munna sir- kyon delete kiya? Did Modi force you to delete ? they have arrived !!

        Meanwhile the Sahabzees from-Troll.in, Khalifa and Wires.in

        Eminent Intellectual ‏@padhalikha ·

        Sanghis criticize historical Muslim figures to provoke current Muslims, but we criticize Ramayana and Rama to civilize current Hindus.

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        • The comment was that I gave Chetna in dumb charades and people didn’t know the word or the movie. I still remember the Rehana Sultan’s legs on our BW Crown TV (DD late night Adult movie) and the song 🙂

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        • on aurangzeb, don’t worry about what famed muslims say on the tv. The fact is that no decent person in India will ever name their kid aurangzeb (or as a matter of fact any famous hindi film villain; on that note, our neigbhor in india, wanted to name her child amrish and weighed on it for months almost 2 decades ago!).

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          • I just read Aurangzeb’s title on wiki : Al-Sultan al-Azam wal Khaqan al-Mukarram Hazrat Abul Muzaffar Muhy-ud-Din Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir I, Badshah Ghazi, Shahanshah-e-Sultanat-ul-Hindiya Wal Mughaliya !!

            I am not sure who named the road in first place. Personally I would like to use Kalam’s name on something unnamed to avoid controversy. Having said that, I don’t know why people have problem changing it? I am not sure of Aurangzeb’s contribution to India or to people he governed. If he used to travel on this road or something of his significance related to it then I can think of keeping the name. But otherwise it is just waste of time.

            One issue I have is that since the invasion of India from 11th century to start of British rule, As a country we didn’t do any progress on Science and Technology. There were bunch of buildings being made but when other part of world was progressing we were stagnating. British at least started universities; passed some knowledge.

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          • “One issue I have is that since the invasion of India from 11th century to start of British rule, As a country we didn’t do any progress on Science and Technology.”

            this isn’t true at all. In fact this repeats what is essentially a British narrative that justified their rule and which was taken up by the colonized Right (or what became the Right eventually). The narrative went something like this — India was a paradise for thousands of years till Muslims invaded the country and basically stopped all its progress. The British then came and restored some of those more ancient ‘Hindu’ values. In effect the British were then merely stopgap agents bringing India back to its rightful place (of course this tied in with larger colonial narratives about civilizing the native).

            Currently much research is underway on the subject of for example sciences in the Mughal empire. But in any case the idea that nothing was happening for centuries simply doesn’t pass some basic historical tests. The Mughal empire was one of the world’s great ones for a while. You don’t become that sort of empire without being interested in a lot of things. Or one can approach it another way. You don’t build architectural marvels if your interest in the arts and sciences is otherwise zero! These things don’t come out of a vacuum. It might be that one culture or empire is more interested in one art form as opposed to another. So you have miniature painting and calligraphy, manuscript art and so on other than the obvious architectural accomplishments. But there’s a lot happening in other areas too. Again whether it’s the ancient Egyptians or contemporary America you can be a more repressive political regime or a very democratic one but the folks who have the power have to be interested in everything, have to be interested in absorbing those important influences wherever they come from. And ancient Egypt is a good example here. For the longest time people believe that ancient Egypt was all about magic and mythology and pharaoh cults and pyramids. The problem is the last item here. The scientific understanding required to construct those pyramids (it would still be a feat to construct them with today’s technological resources) could hardly have operated in a vacuum. Again there is Egyptian art and so forth. But this too is a larger colonial narrative. Where other cultures might be great for reasons of art or whatever but not really in more ‘rational’ ways or in the sciences and so on. every Western history before very modern times therefore ignores or underplays the importance of science and scientific inquiry in any area whether it’s about ancient Egypt or India or China or whatever. And to get back to the subject at hand it is not at all the case that there was nothing going on. By the way this wasn’t true even in the field of Sanskrit let alone anywhere else. Yes cultures go through periods of rise and decline owing to all sorts of factors. Sometimes invasion and conquest stunt cultures equally often they are symptoms of relative decline. Finally the other problem with this colonial writing of Indian history is that it is taken to be co-extensive with North Indian history. this considerably understates much that was happening elsewhere. For example the great example of Vijaynagar. But similarly other important Southern empires which were going through their own periods of cultural renaissance much later than those elsewhere in the country. All of this is quite complicated and certainly can be debated in various ways. I’m hardly offering a dogmatic view here. But yes I certain quarrel with the idea that nothing happened after the 11th century.

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          • History of education in India
            I am talking about Science and tech. in India India and Arab use to lead at one point but then we stagnated. Only remotely Scientific I see is Jantar Mantar. The buildings may be needing some Science but that Science was there before. So where is the progress or something new?

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          • check out this entry:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_science_and_technology_in_the_Indian_subcontinent

            not detailed enough but not bad as a broad overview.

            The point I was trying to make earlier is that any culture is unlikely to be ‘nothing’ in other sciences but great in architecture. On the knowledge being there before I’d again disagree. There are lots of architectural styles that depend not on a general knowledge of architecture but a more precisely knowledge necessary for that style. Sometimes it’s also a question of scale. The British for instance studied various structures in India to figure out ‘how’ these had been constructed. Architecture requires as much science and technology as anything else.

            But on the rest I’d say that’s too general a statement. There is indeed an extraordinary history of Indian science dating back to ancient times but it’s not ‘continuous’ and it certainly was past its peak by the time the first Muslim ever set food in India. Similarly in terms of Arab science the Abbasid centuries are called arguably the greatest in human history for the concentration of scientific research but it’s certainly one of the great ones along with the ancient Greek and perhaps Renaissance Europe. It all depends on what point one is examining in Indian or ‘Islamic’ (I use this label with great reservation.. it’s certainly not the same as Arab..) history. In each case there are peak points but then there are others where things are still pretty good but quite off-peak and/or someone else is doing even better. If you look up a similar entry for Chinese science on wikipedia you’ll find something similar to the Indian example in many ways. So there have been all kinds of cultures doing all kinds of things. It is assuredly the case that India is one of the world’s greatest civilizations and certainly one of the most important continuous ones. China is perhaps the only other such example.

            So I’d dispute who was leading when. When Muslim rule was established in India, India had not been ‘leading’ in science for a very long time. Of course there was still important work being done in many areas. Traditionally however some of these areas have been understudied or underestimated or both.

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          • Muunaji, apne shashi ki yeh video dekhi? agar nahi, toh dekh lo. Aurangzeb’s sey koi kum nahi the yeh brits!!! sab ne luta ki luta hai. what churchil said and did when millions in bengal were dying of starvation in the great famine they caused, is no less than what hitler did in germany! The name of current controversial road, was also named by them. so

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          • I have seen it earlier. I agree broadly with the speech but it is rhetorical at many points.
            We may blame British for what they have done but My main grouse is, now the country is ours and we have been independent for 68 years. Why we are not doing enough to educate people and remove poverty. Why many people still lacks basic amenities, food, water?

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          • “India and Arab use to lead at one point ”
            Iss rahsya kaa raz jaaney ke liye yeh link dekh jisme world famous astrophysicist (y’all will like it because they are also ‘atheist’) discusses why the science/astronomy per se went down in ArabWorld (baghdad)

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          • Thanks for the video. His last question is very profound.

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          • Thank you munnabhai. Woh mere favorite (astrophysicist) hai. I love to watch and have watched all his videos in spare time. Love the way he articulates/uses language and his body. The one person in movie industy that I cannot stop watching (interviews) is sir ben kingsley (of course movies too but I love them off camera as well). absolutely love-love-love the way he expresses himself!

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          • “My main grouse is, now the country is ours and we have been independent for 68 years. Why we are not doing enough to educate people and remove poverty. Why many people still lacks basic amenities, food, water?”
            Don’t have so much angst. India has come long-long-long ways. Even in just last 20 years or so. So many of my friends in India are crorepatis and doing extremely well and have no desire to immigrate like people in my generation did!! Some of my grad school (usa) friends are venture capitalists and have gone back to india to invest. There is lot of work happening in rural areas as well. You cannot expect a baby to start running marathon. It has to learn to crawl, wobbly walk with falls, then walk then run…and then train for marathon. We are not like those african nations or even some nations in south america (and thank god we are not like our neighboring countries like pakistan or bangladesh or china). We are unique. We are learning, growing, morphying, developing. Yes. There are some problems like inequality of income and wealth but that too will work out in future.

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          • P.S. Shashi tharoor’s video was posted because of your this comment:
            “British at least started universities; passed some knowledge.”

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          • “We are not like those african nations or even some nations in south america ”

            Funny how South American countries might actually be an aspirational goal for Indian. Every single South American country and a few African countries rank ahead of India on the human development index…

            http://hdr.undp.org/en/content/table-1-human-development-index-and-its-components

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          • Countries that follow socialism are at bottom of the pile. Countries that pursue market based economies are rich with educated citizens. India wasted 60 years after independence under Nehru’s socialist policies. Hopefully people will realize, growing the cake is more or equally important than focussing on sharing the cake equally.

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          • This whole opposition is false. All the great economies of the West are also ‘socialist’ enterprises. Which is to say they have already incorporated socialism at some level or the other. Or they have balanced out the market with those elements. Now a pure socialist system is something else but the idea that there’s some kind of opposition here is a very poor understanding of the subject. check out Piketty’s (the current rage in his field) thesis on the US for example. The US grows greatest when the welfare state is at its strongest and the govt is most interventionist.

            I could go further into the mythology of the free market and the religious belief in the idea that free markets liberate everyone when the historical record shows something vastly different. This is the ‘myth’ of the free market. It might better than many or all existing alternatives but it certainly does not live up to its mythology. You’re actually behind the curve here. For at least a decade if not longer economists have been broadly more attentive to this problem not less. But again this would become a longer more involved discussion here.

            On attacking Nehru mindlessly (which is different than disagreeing with him or debating his ideas and/or policies) I consider this the kind of intellectual (not to mention ideological) bankruptcy which need not really be addressed. It should be dismissed ruthlessly!

            Anyone and anything can be debated of course. But it has to happen seriously and in good faith. And even the ideological problem wouldn’t be the biggest issue if it weren’t founded on such total ignorance and ‘bad’ mythology.

            I’d lastly say about India that there was perhaps no excuse for continuing with the socialist model after the 60s. It went on at least twenty years too long. However all the great economies of the Western world have socialism and colonialism (and some other isms) in their DNA. They later pretend it’s only about the free market (though they’re not as obsessed with this idea in Western Europe).

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  15. AnJo: haven’t read the comments thread yet, but how did you think this film compared to D-day (which I liked quite a bit)?

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    • This is surely not as good as D-DAY. There isn’t a ‘human’ angle here the way Irrfan’s character was developed and shown in D-DAY [except maybe for Amina Bi]. This is just a fast-paced thriller with some good moments. So if you are very picky about ‘how’ thrillers should be made, you might not like it.Otherwise it is a good watch once for sure.

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  16. AnJo: I haven’t seen the film, but this is a very entertaining write-up, so vivid and funny — you should write more reviews!

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  17. Yes pretty nice take here on the movie. Watched the movie on DVD and once again Kabir has made a technically sound movie its a decent watch and wished it had a Devgn or someone else at the cast. Saif seems a miscast which also worked against the movie in terms of box office coming after a dud like Agent Vinod.

    On Saif , Masand uses a pretty common line, but sounds damn funny coming out of Rajeev Masand who himself seems homoerotic.

    Rajeev Masand ?@RajeevMasand Aug 28
    Every time Saif picks up a gun in #Phantom, you want to say: Rakh de yaar, chal jayegi! My review: http://goo.gl/CRc9xU

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