Sunday, October 01, 2006

Munna Bye !

No doubt, Lage Raho Munna Bhai was a real break from the mundane mush-mush pyar-ishq-mohabbat Hindi movie genre. But I certainly had reservations on the way it has portrayed the Mahatma . No better time to think about it, than now.

Today is October the 2nd ..This day, 137 years ago, someone was born in Gujarat, who would, for ever, change the way we look at resistance movements. ( this also being the 100th year of the revolutionary Satyagraha movement ) Albert Einstein would later say about this man ...
"Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth."
The Hindu Sunday Review yesterday rightly had an article on the way the latest Munna Bhai flick 'uses' the Mahatma as a novel story line - a break away from the usual formula.
It should have stopped there ! The media, religiously followed its instincts, portraying in a heroic way, the great effort done by the director (Raj Kumar Hirani) to spread the Gandhi ideals .

A very bad message - the Mahatma would not be claimed as unreasonable - he was politically savvy - You need to know whom you are fighting . You cannot use the principles of non-violence and civil disobedience against an irrational enemy - ( these links would be a perfect read . and )

"If Gandhi were to take up the Dandi yatra against the Nazis, he would have barely made it one mile " - Since Gandhi knew that the British were very respectful of the political system and their own judiciary - non-violence seemed to be a very radical idea through with you can attain what you wanted from the British.

The way this is portrayed in the movie is pathetic - it would be senselessly stupid to compare Gandhis non-violence with that of Sanjay Dutt showing the left cheek to the watchman in front of Boman Irani's mansion ( towards the end of the movie ) .
Here is interesting the dilemma - Gandhi could be reliably trusted to never resort to violence even if his methodology of non-violence failed. He could be taken as very honorable and reliable. MunnaBhai is unreliable, unpredictable and unreasonable. As expected and wanted by the audience , MunnaBhai whacks down the watchman after he has shown the second cheek.

With great power comes the need for great composure to restrain it ! - the movie fails to portray that . Gandhi was powerful - very very powerful. He could have easily channelised his mass ppeal to expedite the process of attaining freedom - if he had taken the masses to violent actions - but that would mean the essential breakaway from his own principles.

The movie's stand on consmption of liquor is also not devoid of questioning - how could a iam-drunk-all-the-time goon take up portions of Gandhian philosophy to achieve his needs ? It would be unreasonable to assume that even though knowing about Gandhi was not his primary objective, ultimately the ghost of Gandhi transformed MunnaBhai to a perfect Gandhian. ( compared to the beautiful manner RDB shows DJ ( Aamir Khan) and his friends being transformed into modern day Bhagat Singhs ) But MunnaBhai does not go away without any social implications - a public screening of the movie on October 2nd !!

Needless to say, we essentially live in a period of induced jingoism and irrational nationalism - fueled by the tension across the border and the subtle religious equilibrium. We need to rethink - if movies like L.O.C , Border and their likes ( inablility to recall more names ) should ever be screened.

To leave you with a thought, ...
"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."
- the Mahatma

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"Florentino is so in love with Fermina that he eats gardenias and drinks cologne so that he can know her taste. He becomes drunk on the cologne, and his mother finds him the next morning, in a puddle of his vomit, in a cove of the bay where drowning victims are known to wash ashore" - Love in the time of Cholera