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...Over the years, increasingly, I have thought about his works, spoken about them, written about them. But something’s been changing. The recurrent need to explain something entirely in his words has diminished. The frequency with which I have to flip open the pages of my old, well-worn and underlined books on — and by — Vivekananda has been quietly reducing. The sense of panic when they get briefly misplaced isn’t as high. For something I wrote about Vivekananda recently, the learned gentleman reading the draft took a deep breath and said to me, “You know, don’t get me wrong, but there’s more of what you think here than of what he says”. That point was when I got some sense of why that charge was coming my way. ...TOI on Jan. 12, 2017, 12:12 p.m.
...It was as if an exaggerated virtue was being made out of everyday interaction. This week, however, i was reminded it is not as normal as one would assume. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, childishly thrilled at performing for the first time before his home crowd in Muzaffarnagar’s Budhana village, rehearsing for a small part in the village Ramlila with the other actors who had invited him to participate, was rudely reminded that it isn’t so normal. A group of Sainiks, local defenders of good behaviour and religious tradition, voiced vocal opposition. As is usual, when faced with angry, shrill groups espousing nonsense, the organisers and local administration buckled. The day’s Ramlila itself was called off. The subsidiary reasons: Nawaz is currently a controversial figure since his sister-in-law has filed a case against him, and him taking on the role (of Mareech, the deer) is unfair to the actor who had originally prepared for it. ...TOI on Oct. 8, 2016, 2 a.m.
...But I do care if Nawazuddin Siddiqui cannot act in a Ramlila in village Budhana, district Muzaffarnagar, state (poll-bound) Uttar Pradesh, on the basis of his religion. On Wednesday night, Nawazuddin, who was mightily kicked about playing a small role in the Ramlila in his hometown, couldn’t take the stage since the performance was called off after objections by the local Shiv Sena. The Ramlila’s actors who had invited him to be part of the performance could do little as the organisers preferred to call off the day’s Ramlila rather than risk taking a position in the ‘communally sensitive’ district. ...TOI on Oct. 6, 2016, 8:33 p.m.