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”.
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.
More coverage of the case can be found here.
Though this kind of thing is much more a problem in India than it is for writers here in the US, we have seen the phenomenon before--an apparent unwillingness among some people to comprehend the difference between portrayal and advocacy. All Murzban is doing here, of course, is trying to show life as it is actually lived, and it is this, not some imaginary threat of "communal disharmony," that bothers his critics.
We American writers tend to take our free speech for granted, and it's shocking when someone we know is actually threatened with prison time for telling it like it is. You might want to let him know he's got your support.