Suddenly, it is as if there are no holy cows in Maharashtra. For, the Mumbai police have decided not to file an FIR against comedian Tanmay Bhat. No, Tanmay Bhat is not the holy cow, but the persons he lampooned: Sachin Tendulkar and Lata Mangeshkar. It was just comedy!
The police have said, according to The Times Of India, “Prima facie, after going through the video, we have come to the conclusion that the video was meant for comedy and humour. The political party’s complaint does not even attract a non-cognisable offence.” See, there is no slight.
The political party they refer to is Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena. And what the world has been saying, that it was humour, even if of the low kind, but nothing more. Both the targets, Tendulkar and Mangeshkar, both Bharat Ratna recipients preferred not to complain. The latter condescendingly had asked, “Tanmay Bhat, who?”
But it is not yet a decisive stand, for the police have kept the door ajar, because of the potential for trouble from MNS. “We would have registered an offence immediately had Mangeshkar or Tendulkar approached us with a complaint,” and that the state’s law and judiciary department was yet to submit its report.
Another reason to smile is the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s 24-hour ultimatum to a trust to remove an art installation on Marine Drive — the country’s first-ever concrete road, generally seen as a VIP road because ministers take it to travel between Mantralaya and their Malabar Hill residences.
One cannot clutter a place which has been nominated for, but not assigned yet, and not known if it would happen – a heritage status by the Unesco. The local citizens who raised the alarm bells when the RPG Art Foundation installed it, should be pleased. It is not that they do not rejoice in the greatness of Tendulkar. They surely don’t mean to disrespect him by seeking its removal.
That installation is a tribute to – let’s use the stock terms for him – a master-blaster – and great or greater than Don Bradman etc. The installation was, the locals claim, was ad hoc though it was on a most valued precinct. That also shows that local communities care for their environment, though not across the city, at least in one pocket.
That is worthy of encouragement. Mumbai is a city where most people don’t care about the city. Even if some passionately do, the civic body does not keep the city the way it ought to be, despite the past ambitions and dreams of making it a Shanghai or Hong Kong. The dilapidation of the city is more than what you would think the glass-fronted towers try to hide.
This, however, is backed by the Bombay High Court, because, when an open-air gym was arbitrarily opened even without the permission of the civic body, and then this installation emerged, the locals went to court. The gym was dismantled, and the fear that the promenade may get cluttered, the Tendulkar installation came up. The foundation had said it had “formal permission” to set it up.
The Bombay High Court set up a panel which ruled nothing of the sort and it would be an invitation to disfigure the 4.3 km stretch, as iconic as the Gateway of India. In fact, the lighting had to be restored after the civic body had fiddled with it to cut electricity consumption. The change had ensured that the glittering streetlights did not look like the Queen’s Necklace anymore.