Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Prakash Jha should make another movie

I went to see Rajneeti over the weekend with my daughter. After all the press coverage about how the movie was largely based on the life of Sonia Gandhi and all that, one expected a lot of that, but unless the censors have completely distorted the film by cutting of big chunks of the film, one can hardly see evidence of that. Katrina Kaif for some moments in the film does play a widow and her mannerisms do like one of the Gandhis – could be Sonia or he daughter, the similarity about ends there. The movie is not anything about the Gandhis – Sonia or Priyanka. Rather the movie is about the lumpenization of Indian politics.

We have all grown up with the notion that politics is bad and politicians are the baddies. If one had somehow missed out this bit of a middle class Indian’s education, Prakash Jha can fill the gap. His depiction of Indian politicians – not the underground Maoist types; but the types that fight elections is such that one would come out of the theatre shuddering with horror at our plight as we think about how we are ruled and by whom. And that raises a question.

That politics and politicians are corrupt, inept and amoral has been taught to us from the time we learnt to listen to stories in our mother’s lap. It began with stories of wicked kings and as we grew older, began to be replaced with other people we recognized or knew. Eventually the media created bigger ogres of our ruler and politicians. But coming back to the question that arose after watching the film, I fail to understand one thing – if all our politicians are like the ones portrayed in “Rajneeti”, how are we surviving as a nation?

Rajneeeti’s political figures are barely human. Ranbir Kapoor is supposedly cast in the role analogous to Arjun (the film has shades of the Mahabharata in it), but could well have played the Biblical Satan with ease. Though there is a whole lot of dark side to the so-called democratic Indian political system, but murdering someone from the rival side at the broad daylight in front of masses as shown in the film is like a little too far stretched.

Of course, bad and even villainous politicians live and thrive; we all know that. But what about the good ones, they too exist, don’t they? they may not be saints, and possibly don’t even claim to be one, but they are the ones who ensure that anarchy doesn’t run amuck, and that there is at least some attempt at governance and the rule of law.

Take for example our freedom fighters- people whose birthdays we love to celebrate and whose statues and portraits adorn all public squares and several calendars all over the country. Bhagat Singh, Mahatma Gandhi, Veer Savarkar , Sardar Patel, Nehru... and many , many others. Weren’t they politicians of one hue or another, whose beliefs differed widely, usually vary widely, but because of that they wouldn’t kill each other and cause mayhem. They did give each other that space.

Even today such people exist; politicians who are quietly and silently burning the mid night oil so that they can serve the country as best as they can. They may not make it to the newspaper headlines because they are not looting the exchequer and amassing assets; neither are they plotting intrigue and communal violence in the dead of the night. Such people exist; and it is because of such politicians that the nation still runs and that we are not yet a failed state. Their story too deserves to be told. Prakash Jha ought to write the script of another movie. He has exposed the gory side of Indian politics. Now he ought to project its golden side.

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