Rahul Bose-an actor turned activist

An actor turned activist ( influenced by Paash )

An interaction with an actor turned activist

Gurpreet Singh writes from Vancouver

IT was the Hindu Muslim riots of 1992 that turned Rahul Bose, an actor of the parallel Indian cinema into an activist. Currently on tour in Canada with a green message, he remembers how those riots in the Indian city of Mumbai had changed his outlook towards life and politics. However, the anti Muslim pogrom of Gujarat ten years later became a turning point in 2002. The Hindu right wing BJP government of Gujarat is blamed for the targeted killings of the Muslims by the Hindu extremists in connivance with the police.

Bose admits that he was scared to help anyone in 1992, but the villainy in Gujarat changed him completely. “I am not even scared of calling Mumbai, Bombay’’, he said in a private and informal chat at a party hosted by the Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) in Surrey in reference to the threats made out by the Hindu fanatics to anyone who call the city by its old name. A film director had recently apologized to the Mumbai Nav Nirman Sena for doing so. “He should have gone to the police’’.

Bose is here at the joint invitation of the PICS and the Climate Change Action Network.

He has come with a message to the influential South Asian voters to press the politicians in the swing ridings for some action on climate change. He also reminds them that India is struggling hard to eradicate poverty and unemployment. “The developed countries like Canada which still remain big polluters compared to the developing countries like mine have no moral authority to press them to cut emissions’’, he told a gathering at the PICS’ Senior Center.

Apart from being an environmentalist, he is one of the prominent humanist and secular voices from the Bollywood. However, he prefers to be identified more with the alternative cinema than the mainstream Indian film industry. He has been writing for the Communalism Combat, a magazine of the peace activists who had helped the victims of the Gujarat massacre. “The terrorism should be treated alike as terrorism in the name of the Hindu religion is no different from Jihad’’, he said in a radio interview. In fact, the film Shaurya in which he played a young army officer posted in Kashmir touches an unconventional subject of the Indian army being infiltrated by the radical Hindu officers who kill Muslims in the name of war against terrorism. Although he believes that the Indian army is secular and can’t be blamed for a few bad apples, yet he is concerned with the violation of human rights in Kashmir. “If anyone raises that question he is branded anti national’’, he said at the party during a dinning table chat over range of issues. He believes in solving the problem of terrorism through dialogue and peace initiatives instead of resorting to tough laws and police repression. “The naxalites are fighting for the basics. There are strong socio economic reasons behind their violent actions. Even Rahul Gandhi (the son of the ruling All India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi) acknowledges this. Anyone else suggesting that would have been killed’’. He disclosed to me that he was influenced by Paash, a progressive Punjabi poet who was associated with the ultra leftist Naxalite movement. Paash was assassinated by the Sikh extremists.

He does not forget reminding youngsters to vote. An inedible ink mark on his left index finger suggested that he voted before coming to Canada. The assembly elections were held in three provinces, including Maharasthra where he voted on October 13. He was at the party when the counting of the votes began. “Some students question why should we vote? I tell them why not when the Hindu right wing parties try to control your lives by telling you not to wear jeans or oppose the Valentine’s Day’’.

http://www.southasiapost.org/2009/20091031/canada.htm

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