Unnecessary Frivolity

Unnecessary Frivolity

The Saudi crown prince has allowed cinemas to run in the country. It is a statement of the obvious to assert that Saudi Arabia is the centre of gravity of the world of Sunni Islam. The Saudi prince’s decision to “liberalize” culture is part and parcel of a slew of packages to “reform” the country- economically, politically, culturally and so on. The cinema thing, offensive to the sensibilities of many Muslims, is the most cosmetic of these measures, which appears to be aimed at pepping up the country’s image in the West. This particular measure has elicited both favorable and unfavorable reactions in Kashmir. While some sections of the so called “ mainstream” has lauded the move, others have criticized it. A review of these reaction(s) , in terms of and in the context of Kashmir, suggests that the cinema reopening in Kashmir , is uncalled for. Kashmir, contemporarily, is at a delicate phase in its history- economically, politically and so on. Bread and butter issues which have assumed salience , gradually but inexorably, are complemented and supplemented by conflict related ones. A fundamental uncertainty therefore defines life in Kashmir. Under these conditions of uncertainty, people’s gravitational field, if the metaphor may be employed, stretches mostly to survival issues. Given this context, structure, and conditions of life , it is incredible that parallels are drawn with Saudi Arabia and the possible potential of reopening of cinemas is being touted. While people do need legitimate entertainment avenues, but invariably , all psychological theory and practice suggests that this desire comes last in the pecking order, after all other genuine needs have been satisfied. So, even the suggestion is reopening cinemas, under given conditions in Kashmir, is rather strange. (It may even be held to be frivolous). Instead of these frivolities , powers that be should concentrate their minds and energies on the conflict in and over Kashmir and its resolution thereof. This must be priority and can then be followed by other germane and relevant themes and ideas like improving the lives of people. But, this would entail a paradigm shift on their part and might even entail paying prices of a political nature. However, as the political history of Kashmir demonstrates, very few or hardly any is willing to pay these prices. Careerism , political ambition and the elevation of the self over the people – another theme- will combine to ensure that the frivolous will be privileged over the real and the serious.

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