There is something nauseatingly tragic about ‘A Suitable Boy’, a recently released Netflix show by Mira Nair based on Vikram Seth’s novel. Is it the music, the representation of Muslim identity, or the systematic alienation of Kabir Durrani and Lata? Maybe all! The portrayal of 1950s India in a number of ways reflects the contemporary cultural construct. Lata, a young woman who studies English Literature at the Brahmpur University falls in raging love with a Muslim man Kabir Durrani. Lata’s mother does everything in her might to find ‘A Suitable Boy’ for Lata who would belong to her own faith. The couple could have been eventually falling apart albeit not on the basis of religion as it may appear but analogous to the many ways in which interfaith couples are systematically made to fall apart.
Women! Not Gullible Puppets
The reductive narrative of ‘love jihad’ still looms over the constitutionally diverse land like India where many religions and cultures have co-existed for centuries together. The attempt to polarise two communities by labeling interfaith love between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man as “love jihad” not just flames communal animosity but it completely robs women of their independence and assertion of choice in their own lives. What is especially interesting to observe is how the hollow establishment of ‘love jihad’ simply considers women as gullible puppets who are not fit to make informed decisions of their own. It reinforces the misogynist idea that if a woman falls in love with a man, it would have been under some kind of unsuspecting influence.
Constitution And Law
Article 25 of the constitution of India grants to its citizens the right to freely practice, professor propagate their religion, and Article 14 prohibits any discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. This, however more often than not, fails to manifest in the conduct of several reactionary politicians who repeatedly attempt to interfere in the business of free-willing interfaith couples basis this imaginary conspiracy stemming out of Hindutva propaganda. The society which is still not ready to grant autonomy to women in terms of choosing their own life partner attempts to institutionally colonize the identity and individuality of women.
The Recent Madhya Pradesh Love Jihad Bill!
The Madhya Pradesh State government took a step back from evolutionary progress and talked about presenting a bill to curb “love Jihad”. In addition, if the marriage is not forceful, the couple is supposed to duly notify the district collector a month in advance before formalizing the interfaith marriage. It is the first bill that will make the offense not just cognizable and non-bailable but also punishable with five years of imprisonment. Criminalizing interfaith marriage is corrosion of personal liberty and a gory assault on the soul of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
The trends have seen organized assault even on ad campaigns that have tried to give out a message of communal love and harmony through the medium of their digital platform. The most recent one being the Tanishq ad which the brand had to, unfortunately, take down owing to the safety of their staff in various outlets. The digital campaign that had featured a Muslim family preparing for the goad bharaayi of a Hindu daughter-in-law was also recklessly labeled as “love jihad”. The question comes back on, “Why are interfaith marriages which are consummated between deciding adults well within their constitutional rights have to struggle at the receiving end of social prejudices?”
In The End,
What is a world without love? They say two souls who are meant to be, meet beyond all social limitations at a place where there is the religion of love and love only! A constructive society wheels forward and becomes a conducive force to become space for harmony. Inter-faith marriages equalize and integrate society and make it even stronger with the nourishment of secular values. Democratic freedom will ensure that no Lata has to forgo her Kabir to find a “suitable boy” because there is nothing called love jihad and there is everything called love!