The Church’s (Perceived) Bezhti

After Mian Hussain withdrew the screening of his latest bout with insanity film Meenaxi, I await to see what might happen to this yet-to-be-released movie, Sins. Going by a preempting move by the Church, this has potential to cause a fair amount of turbulence.

He starts off as her benefactor but develops sexual feelings for her. Soon, they embark on a clandestine affair. But there’s a hitch: William is a priest in a church in coastal Kerala. And his lover Rosemary is half his age.

The Church was quick to respond.

But the Church is not amused. Father Pravin Fernandes, spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Bombay and co-ordinator Catholic Communication Centre, told Newsline: ”Though we haven’t seen the film, we strongly object to the content that deals with the details of the sexual life of a Catholic priest. We want the film to be withdrawn and are gathering all relevant information to stall its release.”

So there! Sexual lives of Catholic priests is a forbidden territory eh? But of course. The public doesn’t need to know the lurid details of a person who takes vows of celibacy and later indulges in some hanky panky in what is generally the teenagers’ domain: the car. Wouldn’t sit well with the believers, I agree. Father Pravin Fernandes’ words (underlined) smacks of a fatwa, a la Satanic Verses style. The news item about the car affair is similar to the plot of Sins: the priest was aged 46 and the nun, 23.

The whole idea of taking vows of celibacy in the times we live in is absurd: there are too many distractions and too many temptations that one can succumb to: and the presence of nuns to yield to the said temptations doesn’t help either.

The film’s director, Vinod Pande has spoken rightly:

Pande didn’t see it fit to take permission of Christian bodies.”I am entitled to make a film on any subject. Anyway, this is a fictional reconstruction and is not targeted at any one particular person,”

Moreover, as Pande says, this film is based on a true-life incident. And that perhaps angers the Church more than anything. Bitter truth told on celluloid. What did the Church expect? That Pande take “permission” to make the movie? This again reminds me of the all-powerful Medieval Church that mandated what writers could (or could not) write, or what artists could (or could not) paint. Hypothetically, if Pande had approached the Church for “permission,” what were his chances of securing it?

The reaction of the secularists in the coming days–and I’m assuming the film will be released in India–will surely be interesting. This being an “art” movie, we’ll see whether these worthies will praise it to the skies for the director’s “sensitive portrayal” of a “delicate subject,” or as his exercise of “artistic freedom,” or a film with an “agenda hurt the minority sentiments.” If however, the film is:

my faith in Indian secularism will stand reaffirmed.

6 comments for “The Church’s (Perceived) Bezhti

  1. February 24, 2005 at 11:26 AM

    Sandeep, the film was indeed banned at the behest of Nationa Minorities Commission.

  2. February 21, 2005 at 2:57 PM

    Hi Sandeep,

    You put forth a very good perspective.

    In fact do drop by at my blog for a similar but alternative view of the same issue.

  3. Reader
    February 19, 2005 at 2:19 PM

    Sex sells. Though regular music and other channels refused to show the promos, news channels tried to encash this opportunity by creating a news item “channels refusing to show promos of Sin” and showed some sizzlers from the movie! I enjoyed it :-)

  4. Satish
    February 18, 2005 at 10:45 PM

    You are quite right about Indian (Psedo) secularism. The double standard of using freedom
    of speech/expression when Hinduism is involved.
    When Islam, Christianity is involved, at the least saying “minority sentiments
    are hurt” and at the worst, saying “fascist, fundamentalist Hindus”. This is deplorable.

    On the other hand, there is a fight going on, all over the world, between free speech and sentiments being hurt. The sentiments could be faith/culture/patriotism. This definitely needs
    a public debate to figure out limits on both sides.

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