The Controversial Deepavali Ad by FINAS

November 9th, 2010 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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Here’s the ad. Have a look and share your thoughts.

Basically the ad is about a Hindu guy who marries a Muslim. The pregnant wife is seen singing Tamil song while cooking muruku (symbolising her acceptance of some of the Indian-Tamil aspects) and later the couple is invited to celebrate Deepavali with the husband’s family.

At the grandmother’s house, the husband’s father and grandma are comfortable with the couple (symbolising that older generation are more forgiving and tolerant?) while the the husband’s siblings ignore the couple (symbolising that younger generation is more intolerant, narrow-minded, ignorant?).

The muslim wife is seen not partaking in the lunch because worried about the food being served. However, a malay neighbor drops by and informs the wife that the food was prepared by her (the malay neighbor) and its safe to eat (here, the muslim is seen worried about halalness of the food).

After the meal, the wife gets labor pain and we see everyone rushing to help her (symbolising that in times of need, the younger and older generation will help regardless of religion, race?).

Finally, the scene cuts to a hospital where everyone is in a joyful mood  due to the first grandchildren (twins) being born to the family. Here the meaning may be that our differences (race/religion) can be overcome/forgotten when there’s good thing happening.

The ad can be easily misinterpreted to convey the message that converting is acceptable and the families of the convert will accept the convert. Indirectly, some feels its subtly (or subconsciously) promotes conversion to Islam among Hindus.

The ad doesn’t show any signs that husband has converted (he eats the food without thinking about the halalness nor does he advice his wife to eat), thus giving false impression that he is still a Hindu, but its a known fact that once you want to  marry a Muslim, you must convert.

The ad also tells us that we should get a muslim to prepare the food for Deepavali because to cater for muslim. Well, sorry to say, its our open house and we will serve it any which way we like it. We can’t guarantee that the Muslim won’t use same utensils used to cook non-halal item like beef when preparing food for Deepavali. All my life, never did I see food prepared specially for Muslims for Deepavali (not including the Deepavali open house by politicians). I think this is a bad precedent to set.

While the ad doesn’t insult Hinduism (to me), i’ll say its an ad to promote conversion to Islam rather than a Deepavali ad. Its telling “OK to convert because everything will be OK in the end”. Unfortunately, we are leaving in an unequal state, thus we have lesser rights and depend a lot on the interpretation of the authorities on the “rights”.  So, I expect nothing to change after this.

Some, like Senator Ramakrishnan questioned the ad, saying its belittling the holy festival. He also questioned why not show a reverse scenario where a person converts from Islam to Hinduism. But I think they forgot that’s a no-no in a unequal-rights country. Silap silap, get caught under ISA!

Finas on their behalf said there’s nothing wrong with the ad:

The Deepavali commercial by the National Film Development Corporation (Finas) has nothing to do with religious conversions and it should not be taken out of context in the way it was conceived and acted out in the commercial.

Finas director-general Mohd Mahyidin Mustakim (right) said that the commercial was aimed at promoting 1Malaysia in the spirit of various races and families celebrating the different Malaysian festivals. 

“This commercial is a follow-up to the commercial we had during Hari Raya when Muthu marries the Sarawakian, Rina.

“So we are portraying how Malaysians of different races celebrate their festivals and we will also have another follow-up during Christmas and Chinese New Year.

“This is a work of creativity and should not be mixed with politics. 

“The advertisement was certainly not conceived to put down any race and the idea of conversions was not on our minds at all.”

Mahyidin was responding to senator S Ramakrishnan who had questioned the message the commercial’s producers were trying to put across.

The storyline, he added was similar to a Bollywood drama where there is conflict in the beginning and eventually it all ends well with a happy ending. When the commercial ends it shows a positive and happy mood among the two families. 

The 30-second film – said to have appeared on RTM and Astro – shows how a male member of a Hindu family faces reluctance on the part of his siblings to accept his marriage to a Muslim girl. 

The Muslim girl, on her part, shows reluctance to partake of the meals prepared by her in-laws. She concedes, however, after being assured the food is halal by a friend of the family.

It is only after the Muslim girl has given birth that her in-laws warm up to the fact of their marriage and display affection toward the new-born child. 

Ramakrishnan noted that the Finas advertisement showed the hostility of the Hindu family while neglecting to address the compulsion on non-Muslims to convert before marrying Muslims.

Mahyidin said the advertisement was actually projecting tolerance and caring feelings among the different races. It demonstrates the various races showing respect for one another even when food is served and this is visible in the way the halal food is prepared for the visitors.

Hindu Sangam just issued statement protesting the ad:

Hindu Sangam has called a recent television advertisement on Deepavali insensitive and is meeting Finas officials tonight to protest its screening.

The advertisement, produced by Finas, or the National Film Development Corporation, and aired in conjunction with Deepavali, has provoked protests from Hindu politicians and community leaders.

They are unhappy with what they say is the insensitive undertones portrayed in the advertisement.

In the commercial, a Muslim convert and his pregnant Muslim Sarawakian wife visit his Hindu family members for Deepavali. They are treated with hostility by the man’s brother and sister-in-law.

At lunch, the man’s wife is hesitant to eat the food until a Malay guest assures her that it is halal.

The advertisement however ends on a joyous note with the wife giving birth to twins.

“I find this advertisement insensitive. Even some of my Malay friends are unhappy with it,” Hindu Sangam central council member Shanta Venugopal said.

She said the advertisement in no way portrays the spirit of 1 Malaysia, adding that instead an advertisement showing all the races enjoying a Deepavali meal would have served the purpose.

DAP’s Senator S. Ramakrishnan said: “This advertisement was done in bad faith. It has a subtle message underlying it.”

Calling it a mockery of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept, Ramakrishnan told The Malaysian Insider that the repeated airing of the commercial could “subtly influence gullible and innocent people. They will be more accepting of Hindus converting to Islam. And why are they playing this advertisement during Deepavali?”

“The advertisement seems to be leading the community in one direction. Why does it have to be a Hindu converting to Islam? Why can’t it be the other way around?” Ramakrishnan asked.

Hindu Sangam deputy president Dr M Bala Tharumalingam said 45 Hindu NGOs, including the Hindu Sevai Sangam and the Hindu Youth Organisation, would be attending the meeting at its Petaling Jaya headquarters.

For me, say no to “conversion without proper counseling and information”. Counseling here means the convert-to-be should be counselled by his/her current religion officials/authority to ensure he/she is clear on leaving current religion. Information means the next of kin is made aware of the conversion plan BEFORE converting. Can or not? 🙂

Note: Still waiting for self-proclaimed guardians of Indian community to open mouth. Maybe to tired from all the deepavali open houses.

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9 comments

  1. Linges says:

    I was thinking about the same thing when i saw the ad…it does not bode well with the occasion…maybe FINAS the gov body is just representing the thought of the gov?..by the way, if you noticed, this is a continuation of the Raya ad from Finas…all the character and the family is the same…

  2. devamanohari says:

    Why are we expected to think so narrowly i don’t understand. It is deepavali. What the advert should protray should be the meaning of the festival so that the others can understand his fellow citizen better and not die of ignorance………… that is how it is going to promote 1Malaysia. Understanding each other better for the betterment of a multinational country. Please apply empahty.

  3. Careena6 says:

    Finas can come up with a 1 Malaysia Diwali ad without a ” conversion” theme. A Yasmin Ahmad conversion love story is OK, it was just not appropriate for Diwali. The worst part of the commercial was the “wife” not eating until the neighbor assured her. Don’t tell me Hindus have been serving their Muslim friends non-halal food over the years???? How crappy.

  4. Intheran says:

    1 Malaysia should be portrayed by showing the public that this Government is fair.

    Deepavali ad didn.t display any of that the Ind sentiments Indian actors should pondered deeply before enacting the parts,it’s a sorry sight that they can be easily manipulated for the gains of others. Will the malays tolerate the conversion quite easily.
    Read the news on staronline 12/11/2010.

  5. Riyaz says:

    The ad was too complicated.

    FYI – I consume halal food only (even don’t consume beef/mutton) but I love all the beautiful idlis, tosais, varuval prepared by my Hindu neighbour.

    We even share things: at times when we run out of say, eggs, we’ll run over to each other’s home and get it.

    The Finas people tried too hard and made it complicating, rather than keeping it simple.

  6. hardasnailz says:

    Crass and immature. It tells us there is only one way traffic for Indians in malaysia i.e to kow tow to the islam’s directives, even at the expense of being rude to your hosts. Poochi lah.

  7. Nanban says:

    Periodicaly as shown in the short ad is the obsession of fanatism born from the alley of reprimand over whose religion is popular above all.
    Well as we see god will not ask for blood of an animal sloughtered so its non the less the different motive is behind a kind fiasco religion turned cunning by the amount of blood shed punctured on a said to be a holy day turned beastly affair of satanic bloody rituals.
    As its the multitude of cunningness doubles up the sole purpose of the occasion expires in sickening culling of animals.
    Beyond it there is some quarters propagating the convertion as non satanic and well received, like shit being said as non-smelly!
    Where is those barbarians go if not to the end of the universe with sins!

  8. 0808nes says:

    yes.. im agreed with the description of the ad. it didnt executed well or in a right way.. even when i saw the first part of the ad which is aired before deepavalli, i get mad and started to think emotionally ..

  9. tink_la says:

    come on la… where is the relevance of “deepavali n this Ad??? Please dun squeeze 1Msia concept til it looks more like NON 1Msia concept at the end… If really want nurture 1Msia concept show it in equality matters not in Festive season Ads… Think before really committing into something… Why cant the Ad shows other races what is Deepavali is bout? Do not have political interest included in Ad be mature la…