Freedom of expression is supposed to be just that, the freedom to express what you want to express. But more often than not it turns out to be the freedom to express what others feel is right for you to express. I have always believed that India is one of the best places to live in as far as this aspect was concerned. The governments have always been criticised balantly sometimes with reason and sometimes without any reason by the media and the people alike. The number of parties with different views on different issues was supposed to be a representation of the right to hold an opinion which is true according to you.
But every now and then an incident occurs which shakes my faith in the system. A recent one was the controversy involving the movie Ore Oru Gramathile a movie which showed how reservations are used and abused by people to secure jobs and admissions in educational institutions. Some people were not happy with the movie and as has become a convention in India they threatened vioilence against cinema owners if the movie was screened.This much was the epected part. Living in Gujarat and having seen the kind of responses that Fanaa got the kind of reaction was not actually a surpise. What actually surprised me was the High Court judgement against the screening of the movie. The Supreme Court did finally reverse the High Court's decision but that does not correct the basic feeling of fear among the government and the judiciary that a film will provoke people to violence.
What they chose to forget every now and then is the fact that people generally do not prefer to get violent and burn down whole cities just because they did not like the message of the movie that they just saw. They have better things to spend their time on. Its only the political parties or the units that work under them that have the time for stuff like this. And they have a very good reason for this: They donot have issues to stir up people with and if there are any issues that deserve to be raised they never are as they will only reveal the failures of the parties.
And a request for the judiciary: You people up there are no different from us citizens and if you have enough discretion to not go on a city burning spree every time you see a new movie, so do we.
I read an excellent article on Freedom of Speech by Dr. Ajai Sahni. If you would like to go through it too, read it here.