Parsi Author Murzban Shroff uses word “Ghati” and lands in court

Use of the word ‘ghati’ in his book Breathless in Bombay has landed first-time author Murzban Shroff in trouble, with an activist claiming that it “lowers the reputation and image of Maharashtrians in the eyes of non-Maharashtrians”.

01-01 While 47-year-old Shroff, a Mumbai-born Parsi, maintains that the term is not aimed against any community, activist Vijay Mudras wants the government to seize all copies of the book, which he feels is a serious threat to communal harmony.

However, political parties like the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena – who call themselves champions of Marathi pride – have not objected to the book.

“I don’t think the word ‘ghati’ is derogatory. To me, it means someone from the ghats and is not aimed against any community. Personally, I never use the word,” Shroff said.

On Friday, the Bombay High Court will hear Shroff’s plea for quashing of a case filed against him in February by Mudras. He is charged under Section 153 (b) of the Indian Penal Code for making statements prejudicial to national integration.

Mudras objected to certain dialogues that include the word ‘ghati’ in ‘This House of Mine’, one of the 14 stories in the book. The story revolves around occupants of a society who face an eviction notice from the housing board. One of the characters, named Olaf, repeatedly uses the word ‘ghatis’ to describe the Marathi-speaking people in the building.

In his complaint, Mudras alleged that the book could foment disharmony, feelings of hatred and ill will and demanded seizure of its copies. On the basis of his complaint, a metropolitan court had ordered a probe by NM Joshi Marg police, following which the case was registered against Shroff.

However, a police source said the charges are likely to be dropped.

Shroff pointed out that the book is over a year old, and there is no sign of communal disharmony so far. “It is ridiculous that I am being charged. If the police found me a threat to national security, they would have arrested me,” he said.

He added that the book deals with biases and the class-divide in society, and the views of the villain in a story can’t be taken to be the author’s.

“It is a compilation of short stories written over seven years, on the theme of migrant workers. The character Olaf suffers from a class bias and calls everybody a ‘ghati’. But the protagonist in the story tells him that his attitude is wrong,” he said.

Mudras’s lawyer R Satyanarayanan refused to comment on the issue.

  • Siloo Kapadia

    If he had said something like “sakubye” or “chumpubye” then I can understand the outrage. But I doubt that “ghati” is such a horrible word.

  • rustom jamasji

    Prejudice to national imtegradtion….

    Mayawati stating only dalits are suposed to be favoured.

    One of the thackreys stating Maharashtrians are to be favoured in Maharashtrians.

    T.N or chenai favouring more than 40% reservation…one of the ministers claiming that if tamil is not spoken in the house in soth india, then tamil is not given importance…
    Gorkha national front asking for seperation from Bengal,
    Uttharkanhd seperated from U.P
    Assam Bodos asking for seperation..
    Huriyat asking for seperation though ethinic clensing of the indegenious people of kasmir i.e kashmiri pandits…

    And ta zoroastrian i.e called parsi in dia pak ..the minority of the world using the term for the people of the ghats booked under such an act…

    wake up monmoham or sonia or jaswant singh…

  • Farzana

    As per the defination of ‘ghati’ it is indeed ‘ppl from ghats’… but in a relative term in mumbai it is used as a mild derogatory slag to describe certain section of society….There are more serious derogatory words like ‘katwa’ and ‘nigger’…and i have heard ppl loosely using them everywhere in public space…Not that i support the use of such terms, but relatively i find use of a word like ‘Ghatti’ is not as defamatory as its made out to be…
    In my opinion, the person taking objection is overreacting or craving from some free publicity at the expence of this bawaji…Anyway Marazban, no publicity is bad publicity… way to go!!

  • Jehangir Chinoy

    Murzban Shroff and me should both thank ‘activist’ Vijay Mudras.

    As in Mr. Shroff’s case, may his books now enjoy greater sales thanks to Mr. Mudra bringing this frivilous suit against it.

    On a personal note, I would like to thank Mr. Mudras that an Indian author and specially a Zorastrian author, had escaped my attention.

    My best to you, Mr. Shroff and may we all look forward to more books from you.

    Jehangir Chinoy.
    Poona.

  • Mickie Sorabjee

    For the information of all supporters on the Parsi Khabar site for community member Murzban Shroff:-
    According to an Hindustan Times report on pg 6 of their issue dated September 19, 2009, The High Court has restrained the police from taking any coercive action against the author Murzban Shroff for allegedly making prejudiced statements against national integration, in his book Breathless In Bombay.

    Mr. Murzban Shroff had approached the court for quashing an FIR against him filed in February by one Vijay Mudras for lowering the image of Maharashtrians.

    Judge S.A.Bobade has now directed the complainant and government to file a reply in two weeks.

    Mickie Sorabjee

  • Firoze Hirjikaka

    Let us not try to be hypocritical and holier-than-thou here. The average Parsi uses the term “ghati” in a derogatory sense: he certainly does not mean ‘people who live in the ghats”. I do not want to detract from Shroff’s constitutional right to freedom of expression; although, given the reality that this country has more than its fair share of “activists” who take it upon themseleves to decide – usually for cheap publicity – that a seemingly trivial statement “hurts the sentiments” of a particular section of society and sometimes leverage that into public disturbances, Shroff could perhaps been a little more circumspect.

  • Hillary bartholomew

    Type your comment here…a hich is a hick in ant language and if Murzban had reson to use the word in conjuction with his story; let him alone. the time is long past when the ignorant hicks of the world should tell an author what words to put in the mouths of his characters The educated of the world are with you, the ignorant are fast awakening and the stupid should return to the primordial enviroment that originally spawned them. hillary bartholomew miami fl usa.

  • farsheed96

    ghotao ne ghotao nayi ke ..toh pacchi su kevay ?
    This is Insane ! it very simple……being the local crowd of bombay i.e. our homecity…we evrybody still today call the maharashtrians as GHOTAAS !..meaning somebody from the ghats and ..its not foul ! They also  call as “BAWA “.!!
    and please its very common……for the people of south india we call them MADRASSI !..If Mahrashtrians think tht bombay is wholely and solely theirs..then forget it !..Marathi Influence only begin after 1996..And it is nothing to be ashamed off..However the migratory crowd is extensive in bombay especially North Indians {bloody idiots}..and they used the words GHAATIIEEE !..showing that they r superior and maharshtrians are inferior.Perhaps We Parsis dont do tht !…..Its a local term for us and it will not be changed.I call my Maharshtrians friends as “Ghoto bharakiyo” or “ghotan bharki “…..meaning..see how that MH lady/men is talking !!
    Perhaps,the people staying abroad including our community members still call the MACCHIWAALI ! AS gotan !…
    So dont giv me tht shit ! And yes Ghotas will be Ghotas..And this word will be used till centuries…I GARUNTEE YOU…. !CHEERS,FARSHEED COOPERAndheri – Mumbai !
    {from N. Petit Street,Grant Road}

  • farsheed96

    ghotao ne ghotao nayi ke ..toh pacchi su kevay ?
    This is Insane ! it very simple……being the local crowd of bombay i.e. our homecity…we evrybody still today call the maharashtrians as GHOTAAS !..meaning somebody from the ghats and ..its not foul ! They also  call as “BAWA “.!!
    and please its very common……for the people of south india we call them MADRASSI !..If Mahrashtrians think tht bombay is wholely and solely theirs..then forget it !..Marathi Influence only begin after 1996..And it is nothing to be ashamed off..However the migratory crowd is extensive in bombay especially North Indians {bloody idiots}..and they used the words GHAATIIEEE !..showing that they r superior and maharshtrians are inferior.Perhaps We Parsis dont do tht !…..Its a local term for us and it will not be changed.I call my Maharshtrians friends as “Ghoto bharakiyo” or “ghotan bharki “…..meaning..see how that MH lady/men is talking !!
    Perhaps,the people staying abroad including our community members still call the MACCHIWAALI ! AS gotan !…
    So dont giv me tht shit ! And yes Ghotas will be Ghotas..And this word will be used till centuries…I GARUNTEE YOU…. !CHEERS,FARSHEED COOPERAndheri – Mumbai !
    {from N. Petit Street,Grant Road}

  • Juzer Randelia

    very well said 🙂

  • Juzer Randelia

    very well said 🙂