Why Quantico is wrong in raising bogey of 'Hindu' terror

The Priyanka Chopra starrer show has been under fire for showing 'Hindu' extremists plot an attack in Manhattan with the motive of blaming it on Pakistan.

 |  5-minute read |   09-06-2018
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An episode of Priyanka Chopra’s TV series Quantico where apparently "Hindu" extremists plot an attack in Manhattan with the motive of blaming it on Pakistan has drawn much flak and ridicule from most quarters.

While a major portion of the criticism could be directed towards the abject stupidity of the contrived plot device —Chopra’s character Alex Parrish discovers a rudraksha mala on a terrorist believed to be Muslim but as Muslims don’t wear rudraksha, therefore, it must be a "Hindu" trying to do bad things and pin the blame on the other side — there is enough reason for impassioned reaction coming from people

Losing credence

A platform such as mainstream television or online streaming, and shows such as Quantico, which despite now being cancelled is one of the most recognised American television series globally, is the easiest tools to deliver any message. Although one could be crediting Chopra and her popularity or that of the show with a little too much, such depictions help not only mainstream but also legitimise concepts such as Hindu terror, which otherwise don’t have much credence.

In a few months from now, India would observe the 10th anniversary of the heinous 26/11 attacks in Mumbai where 10 operatives from Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, an Islamic terrorist organisation based in Pakistan, carried out a series of coordinated shooting and bombing attacks.

The attacks lasted four days leaving 164 people dead and over 300 wounded and had it not been for the bravery of Tukaram Omble, a former Army man and an assistant sub-inspector in Mumbai police, who laid down his life to capture Pakistan national Ajmal Kasab alive, the whole in Mumbai via a boat that originated from Pakistan were made to wear saffron wristbands or maulis as a part of the deception.

During interrogation one of the LeT operatives, Abu Jundal, has also believed to have said that the terrorists were given IDs bearing Hindu names like Sameer Chaudhury and the plan would have perhaps succeeded had all the terrorists been killed.

But Ajmal Kasab’s capture was a spanner in the works. Now, if someone from Quantico were to recreate this as fiction, they would probably be fooled by the maulis or the spatter of Hindi words that Kasab and company were taught to carry out the mission.

In the last decade, even in the face of glaring evidence, there has been a great thrust to pin the 26/11 attacks on just about anyone but Pakistan. There have been conspiracy theories galore — some intangible and some tangible like the Aziz Burney book 26/11 RSS Ki Saazish (26/11: An RSS Conspiracy) — but much of it was mostly limited to television debates or panel discussions at literary festivals until now, perhaps.


Terror distorted

A small dialogue in Quantico can initiate the process of hyphenating Islamic terror and all other terrors, in this instance Hindu terror, without any grounding in reality and before you know it would become a thing. Most of the annoyance with the Quantico episode has been directed at Priyanka Chopra and this writer doesn’t find anything wrong with that.

As an Indian, and also a Mumbaikar up until recently, Chopra should be aware of the price that her adopted city paid in 26/11 and the manner in which she agreed to be a part of the episode where she practically endorses a false narrative, which has also been peddled by Pakistan on international forums to absolve itself from the terror attacks, is rather immature.

She could argue that this is fiction or that her character is imaginary and not "Indian" at that too, but like VS Naipaul felt, fiction never lies and reveals the writer totally. There is no fooling anyone of Priyanka Chopra’s nationality and the manner in which she or Alex Parrish associates Hindu symbols such as rudraksha with terror is an irreversible action.

Big backlash

Most newspapers and portals are reporting the backlash coming Priyanka Chopra’s way as the ire of Indian nationalists, which is unfortunate as today any emotion evoked by the word "nationalism" is bad. Most liberals, for the want of a better word, would equate an opposition to Quantico as a direct attack on Priyanka Chopra’s freedom of expression or creative liberty.

Here, it's fine for a Mahesh Bhatt, whose own son, Rahul Bhatt, was questioned by the authorities for his connection with David Coleman Headley, the American terrorist who conspired in the plotting of 26/11 attacks, to endorse the book 26/11 RSS Ki Saazish in the name of freedom of expression, but anyone on the "other" side is a rabid right-wing stooge because the word "nationalism" comes into play.

In an episode of My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, two Jewish women, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) and Audra Esther Levine (Rachel Grate), engage in a rap battle to find out who is the real JAP (Jewish American Princess) and while they try to outdo each other’s achievements by harping how liberal they were, the can’t help but say in unison “Though, of course, I support Israel” as being liberal and progressive is assumed to be critical of Israel and sympathetic to Palestine.

So, in essence, any nonsense can work, even lauded for if the opposition were based on a sentiment of nationalism the argument would never fly.

(Courtesy of Mail Today)

Also read: Veere Di Wedding is the story of every confused modern Indian woman today


Gautam Chintamani Gautam Chintamani @gchintamani

Cinephile, observer of society and technology and author of the of Dark Star: The Loneliness of Being Rajesh Khanna.

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