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Letters to the Editor: Avatar running into controversy

Readers write in from Calcutta, Sholavandan, Nadia, Berhampore, Maruthancode, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai

The Editorial Board Published 03.01.23, 06:05 AM
The portrayal of the oceanic Na’vi clan in the film is heavily inspired by the native Maoris of New Zealand.

The portrayal of the oceanic Na’vi clan in the film is heavily inspired by the native Maoris of New Zealand.

Imperfect picture

Sir — The lines between fiction and reality are often blurry. The recent sci-fi film, Avatar: The Way of Water, which chronicles the anti-colonial struggle against humanity by the inhabitants of the fictional world of Pandora, has courted controversy for cultural appropriation. The portrayal of the oceanic Na’vi clan in the film is heavily inspired by the native Maoris of New Zealand. In fact, several sci-fi movies, including Dune, Star Wars and Star Trek, have been similarly accused of misrepresenting native cultures. While historical accuracy is not a prerequisite for fictional works, the fact that real experiences of colonial oppression continue to be usurped and depicted through the lens of white privilege is problematic.


Archana Singh, Mumbai

Storm’s coming

Sir — The economic outlook for 2023 is not particularly bright. The world economy is in bad shape after the ravages of the pandemic. Further, the Ukraine war has greatly disrupted global supply chains. India’s economic woes are also increasing with surging inflation, the rupee falling against the US dollar, and the depletion of forex reserves. These will have a significant bearing on national income and, subsequently, public demand. Countries must remain alert and bravely weather the forthcoming hardships.

R. Narayanan, Navi Mumbai

Sir — During the course of 2022, the world emerged from the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic only to plunge into an economic slowdown, owing, in a large part, to the Russia-Ukraine war. The year, 2023, is expected to be even more challenging on several counts. First, there is no sign of a truce between Moscow and Kyiv. This means that prevailing economic uncertainties will worsen even further. Second, Covid has made a comeback last December, wreaking havoc in China and other countries. It seems that the strength and resilience of humanity will be severely tested in the coming months.

M. Jeyaram, Sholavandan, Tamil Nadu

Unfair cut

Sir — Majoritarianism and moral policing are increasingly curbing creative freedom. In a recent case, the Central Board of Film Certification directed the makers of Pathaan to implement certain changes in the film (“Prasoon proposes Pathaan ‘changes’’’, Dec 30). This came after the release of one of the film’s songs, Besharam Rang — it features Deepika Padukone in a saffron bikini — which led to nationwide protests allegedly for hurting religious sentiments. Such curbs are uncalled for in a democracy where there is freedom of expression. It seems that the CBFC is dancing to the tunes of hardline religious groups like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Madhya Pradesh Ulema Board, which have called for a boycott of the film. People must realise that these protests are nothing more than attempts to incite hatred.

Sambuddha Sinha, Berhampore

Sir — Films that do not adhere to the Hindutva agenda are often being targeted by the ruling regime. Worryingly, the CBFC has been reduced to a government tool. It must be noted that in 2017, the film, Padmaavat, was subjected to several changes by the CBFC as a means of pandering to Rajput sentiments ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections. However, The Kashmir Files, which espouses hate propaganda, was given certification for everyone above 16 years. This exposes the CBFC’s hypocrisy.

S.S. Paul, Nadia

Clean up

Sir — It is disheartening that in the aftermath of a recent fair organised at Maddox Square, the park has turned into a plastic dump. This is the case with most parks in the city which suffer from such post-mela damages. It is only when the matter is highlighted by the media that the authorities take action. A similar problem arises after Durga Puja every year when pits dug to erect pandals are left unfilled. These accumulate water and become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The municipal corporation must look into this.

Amit Brahmo, Calcutta

Lost heritage

Sir — As a Calcuttan, I want the civic authorities to scale up their conservation efforts to restore old buildings in the new year (“What Calcuttans want in the New Year”, Jan 1). Buildings of historical importance are vanishing fast from the cityscape as a result of their dilapidated condition. In the past, several historical buildings have been demolished to make way for shopping malls and multiplexes. The city fathers should save these structures from obscurity.

Sourish Misra, Calcutta

Artful player

Sir — Pelé was one of the transformative figures of modern sports history and it was sad to learn of his demise (“The Giant”, Dec 30). The Brazilian football star made his debut at the age of 16 and went on to become the only player to win the World Cup title three times. Pelé was not only instrumental in making Brazil synonymous with the game but also reshaped football into an artform. Pelé’s electrifying speed, his control over the ball and agility, not to mention his dribbling techniques, set him apart. The fact that he rose from such humble origins endeared him to the world.

G. David Milton, Maruthancode, Tamil Nadu

Sir — Pelé’s legacy as the king of football lives on. There are several anecdotes about his exploits. One such less talked-about incident happened during the 1970 World Cup, wherein his header was stopped by England’s goalkeeper, Gordon Banks, with a miraculous acrobatic feat. This is still acclaimed as the ‘save of the century’.

Tapes Chandra Lahiri, Calcutta

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