AMAR, AKBAR, ANTHONY!

Anthony Prabhu Gonsalves was an Indian musical composer, music arranger and teacher

By Rajan Narayan

IN a conversation between veteran journalist MJ Akbar (Mobasher Jawed Akbar) and GCCI president Shrinivas Dempo, MJ Akbar was asked a question. Are the days of “Amar, Akbar, Anthony” over? Akbar replied that it could continue but in a very changed manner.
When the president of India, Droupadi Murmu addressed the budget session of Parliament she was greeted with chants of “Jai Sri Ram!” This was when she listed the new Ram Mandir in Ayodhya as one of the major achievements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. President Murmu insisted that it would change the way the world perceived India. Never mind that the president herself was not invited for the pran pratistha or consecration of the new temple in Ayodhya which awaits completion.
However, it is filmmaker Manmohan Desai’s blockbuster film “Amar, Akbar, Anthony” we are reminded of now, where the three characters worked and lived in total communal harmony. MG Akbar himself is an outstanding example of how Muslims reached the top of the top. MG Akbar started his career in media as a sub-editor in Khushwant Singh’s “The Illustrated Weekly of India.”
Later he moved on to the “Onlooker” as editor in 1974. Later on moved back to his home in Calcutta or Kolkatta now and persuaded Aveek Sarkar of the Anand Bazaar Patrika group of publications to launch the weekly news magazine called “Sunday.” The USP of the magazine was that it was priced at Rs1 only. Akbar hired the best reporters, most imported from Mumbai. The weekly was an outstanding success. It climbed quickly to two lakh circulation. Akbar also started a Hindi version called “Ravivar.”

JOURNALISM TO POLITICS
AFTER this he went on to start the “Telegraph” from the same Anand Bazaar Patrika group. Which too was a success story and diminished the stately “Statesman” daily considerably. It is not too difficult to move up in journalism as newspaper owners are indifferent to caste and communal factors. It is performance which counts and revenue the bottomline.
I have myself experienced this on my success with editing the monthly “Mirror” in Bombay, now Mumbai. Then I was offered the then high paying job of editor of “Imprint.” It is far more difficult to reach the top in politics. Akbar used his political contacts to become external affairs minister in the Rajiv Gandhi government.
When the BJP came to power MJ (as he is popularly called) reached out to Narendra Modi. Ideology was no deterrent to Akbar’s ambitions. Modi picked up Akbar for external affairs minister. This demonstrated that in the early days of Modi he was willing to reach out to Muslims. However, Akbar was forced to resign when he was found guilty of a defamation case by a young woman working for him in the “Sunday” offices. This is the famous or infamous “MeToo” case which resounded across the world on the subject of sexual harassment of women in the work place.
Modi hardened his stand when all this blew up and he started targeting Muslims. This is what later on prompted Rahul Gandhi to call the BJP a “nafrat ka dukan” on the eve of the imminent Parliament elections. This prompted Narendra Modi to reach out to Christians over the last Christmas season. Modi even claimed that his government was inspired by Jesus Christ.

RAM MANDIR URGENCY
IN THE rush to inaugurate the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya and its consecration with grand fanfare it is clear that Hindu fundamentalism is witnessing a resurgence. The day after the Ram Mandir opened kar sevak were on a jubilation rampage. There was little reporting of this in the mainline media. The bitter truth is that the Muslims at least have to reconcile themselves to the status of second class citizens. The Ram Temple marks the end of communal harmony.
Former Bombay Commissioner of Police Julio Ribeiro has warned against India becoming a fascist state. Ribeiro makes no secret of his unhappiness with the Modi government. He just stopped short of calling for a change in government. With Modi now expecting to cross 400 seats in Parliament in the forthcoming election Hindutva will reign supreme.

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