Quantico is not the problem. The reality of 'Hindu terrorism' is
Outraged groups forcing Priyanka Chopra to apologise for showing ‘Hindu terrorism’ in her American show evade the truth. Saffron terror is real and has taken real lives. Why are we not outraged about that?
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Priyanka Chopra is the poster child for the term "desi girl".
She emphasised brown is indeed beautiful. Photo: Screengrab
Way before Instagram, western YouTubers or female bloggers popularised tanning and that golden-bronzed hue as the ideal skin hue, Priyanka Chopra owned up the "brown girl" tag and began the conversation around darker skin. She opened up about her insecurities that she had developed as a teenager abroad over her complexion.
For many young teenage girls in their most impressionable age, particularly those in India who look up at Bollywood and are impacted by what is said by the industry’s popular and hugely influential artists, Priyanka became the one actress amongst only a few who made one want to feel confident and own up to one’s dark brown hue and desi-ness.
But Priyanka Chopra isn't just limited to this — something in any case that sets her apart from everybody else in Bollywood, including top actors who've been the heart and soul of the nation and the industry.
What sets "PC" apart, aside from her candour, is her hunger for more, her aspiration to keep moving, keep achieving and keep hitting new heights. A hard worker who makes everything she does look easy when it’s hardly that. Quantico and the success of the early seasons of her American show made Priyanka Chopra the true representative of Indian talent abroad.
Don't mess with the desi girl. Priyanka Chopra as Agent Alex Parrish in Quantico. Photo: Screengrab
But recently, what shocked the world, and all her fans in India, was the backlash an episode of Quantico, one that carried the plot of "Hindu terrorism", received.
However, what is the fuss really all about?
To someone fairly accustomed to the news and "outrage" cycle in India these days, this did not come as a huge surprise because currently, anything even slightly critiquing the majority or the government is tagged "anti-national" immediately. Alongside, the level of outrage this sparks almost borders on riots.
Considering the possible consequences of this, Priyanka Chopra and ABC both apologised for hurting religious sentiments. But the most tragic bit out of the whole Quantico "apology" fiasco is not the apology tweet itself, but the need for Priyanka, who has represented her country on platforms like never before, and is herself the daughter of an army doctor, being made to prove her love for the country in this tweet.
Saying sorry. Photo: Screengrab
This makes one really wonder — just how far are we taking nationalism?
This isn't even the first time Hollywood or Bollywood used the ploy of demonising a particular religion for the sake of a richer storyline. If one was to sit down and try and count how many movies included the plot of "Islamic terrorism", you would eventually lose count. Yet, there hasn't been any outrage from the Muslim community out there.
The generic 'Muslim villain', here, in Homeland. Photo: Screengrab
There is a wider background as well which travels from religious identities to national identities — many movies based on the Second World War have demonised the Germans, and understandably so.
WWII movies such as Schindler's List depict the reality of Nazis and their victims. Photo: Screengrab
Yet, several decades after WWII, there isn't a backlash when such films are shown. Is it because the international collective as a community accepts both the good and bad from the past and present and works consciously towards creating a better world?
If that is so, where is this leaving us in the current context wherein "Hindu terrorism" isn't fiction — not with the recent lynchings that have taken place in the name of the cow or the cold-blooded murder of a journalist Gauri Lankesh?
So, who exactly killed her? Photo: PTI
Junaid, Akhlaq, Gauri Lankesh, these have now become cue words to remind us of all the terrorism that has taken place in India only in the last few months, none of which the West is unaware of or the foreign media hasn't covered.
The 'Not In My Name' protests across India made international news. Photo: PTI
The history of religious terrorism isn't new, whether Islamic or Hindu, but what is strange is our denial of the latter.
As a community, instead of asking our actors to apologise for a fictional plot, shouldn't our attention and our outrage be directed towards the acts of such terrorism occurring within the boundaries of our own nation, acts that give our religion a bad name?
As we keep asking for apologies over hurt religious sentiments, it is important to keep in mind a check that we’re not swayed with emotions where we’re defending violence — and that we are in effect turned into apologists for terrorism.