Seizing the Moment

It appears that the Quit India Movement will continue, in fits and starts, until our country is completely free, and free to talk about it. Kamal Haasan almost hit the eject button, MF Husain was forced to leave India after years of trying to stay ahead of the mob and, after Pokharan II, Arundhati Roy had launched her career as a polemicist by threatening to secede and become a mobile republic. That was three months after the tests, actually. You could call it a well-considered move.

In the meantime Salman Rushdie, who has had to stay away from the Kolkata Book Fair, has declared a cultural Emergency on Twitter. And since he no longer faces financial ruin, or the prospect of losing his home to the all-powerful film financiers of Chennai, Kamal Haasan told Rajdeep Sardesai: "I am a sane man now." And then he added, significantly: "I was not insane yesterday."

Yet another crazy big-issue week, in which the media had little appetite for anything but the main course — censorship, well drizzled with hurt sentiments and topped by state complicity. And since TV went hunting for all the usual suspects and thrust a battery of mikes in their face, you had to look for the logo to figure out which channel you were watching.

The TMC MP Sultan Ahmed looked badgered but unbowed as he shouted into many mikes, "Nothing shame, nothing shame, I don't know, they have taken right decision … In our society, where Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Rabindranath Tagore and Nazrul Islam were born, we don't believe in this dirty free thinking." But an unseen reporter wanted him to admit that he was communal. And he was disarmingly honest: "You have come to me as a Muslim MP. Go and ask the state cabinet and the chief minister f you want to hear something different."

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