It is not often that you get popular film actors in India articulating themselves on political and social matters in a way that does not make you cringe. Led by Amitabh Bachchan, most of what is called Bollywood fawns on Modi (and with the way Maharashtra assembly results are expected to go, there will be even more love for him). These stars being obsequious to Bal Thackerary was common sight. At such a time it was refreshing to read Saif Ali Khan speak his mind on ‘love jihad’ in a crisp essay in Indian Express two days ago.
What delights us is that, for a change, the usual suspects for the lib-sec brigade, Nehru and Gandhi, were not invoked. Instead, we had Saif Ali Khan evoking Ambedkar and even talking of a law in India that is ‘truly secular’:
“The good news is that no one needs to convert from their religion to get married. The Special Marriage Act, when applicable, is the paramount law of the land. If you marry under this, it is upheld over any religious law. It is truly secular.”
We already have seen how CSR-friendly Aamir Khan refused to even mention Ambedkar and reservation in a show focused on Dalits. But Saif takes a step in this direction:
“Intermarriage is India. India is a mix. Ambedkar said the only way to annihilate caste is intermarriage. It is only through intermarriage that the real Indians of tomorrow can be truly equipped to take our nation forward with the right perspective.”
The Special Marriage Act incorporates much of the Ambedkar-piloted Hindu Code Bill that was stymied in parliament by a pusillanimous Nehru. Brahamanic Hinduism’s bedrock has been strict rules on who can marry whom. And Ambedkar’s views on this issue have been brilliantly put together by the late Sharmila Rege in her best-selling book Against the Madness of Manu: B.R Ambedkar’s Writings on Brahmanical Patriarchy.