वैलेंटाइन’स डे, अम्मा, और हमारा प्यार।

फिल्म डॉन में अमिताभ बच्चन ने दो भूमिकाएँ निभायी हैं। उनमें से पहला किरदार नकारात्मक है। डॉन एक बहुत खतरनाक अपराधी है और उसके ही शब्दों में ११ मुल्कों की पुलिस उसका पीछा कर रहीं होतीं हैं। फिल्म शोले में जय और वीरू टुच्चे चोर हैं। फिल्म डर में शाहरुख़ खान ने एक बेहद संगीन और जुनूनी आशिक़ का किरदार निभाया है। फिल्म स्पेशल छब्बीस में अक्षय कुमार ने एक ठग का किरदार निभाया।

ये सब मैं आपको क्यूँ बता रहा हूँ? इस से पहले कि मैं उसका जवाब दूँ, मैं एक बात और बता देता हूँ। अभिनेता प्राण शायद अब तक के सबसे हरफनमौला कलाकार रहे हैं। कहा जाता है कि उनके नकारात्मक किरदारों को इतनी नफरत मिली कि एक वक़्त पर दर्शकों को यकीन हो गया कि प्राण निजी ज़िन्दगी में भी वही हाथ में चाबुक लेकर घूमने वाले पूंजीवादी हैवान हैं जो गरीब किसानों का खून पीता है। लोगों ने अपने बच्चों का नाम प्राण रखना बंद कर दिया। Continue reading “वैलेंटाइन’स डे, अम्मा, और हमारा प्यार।”

Grapes of Wrath -‘We take a beatin’ all the time.’

I like to look at a book as though it was formed like the universe (with all the conjectures) and grew and nurtured on the world around it. However, a book is incumbent to live up to this perspective.

Grapes of Wrath is such a book. It starts from the dust bowl Oklahoma and moves to California, tracing the trajectory of becoming and unbecoming of migrants, a family seen from close quarters by the author and the graph it scales. While it is the essential storyline of the book, Grapes of Wrath has been able to capture life as it is. I can conclude the book with this imagery: concentric circles, where, in the outermost circle lies nature, in the middle is the Manself (a word coined by the author to denote man and his desires) and within their lap lie the Joads (the family). Continue reading “Grapes of Wrath -‘We take a beatin’ all the time.’”

Bangalore Mirror ran this blurb for its news story. What happened next …

What happened next shall be a lesson for Bangalore Mirror. When the citizens act more mature than the so called conscience keepers of the society, we should not lose hope of a better future for our nation. The story runs like this – Bangalore Mirror reported a crime incident in the city – “A 40-year-old man is fighting for his life in the ICU after being stabbed and robbed behind Mecca Masjid in Austin Town in the wee hours of Sunday. After the robbers left him bleeding on the deserted street, he ran 1.5 km to reach home, and collapsed at the doorstep……”
The man is fighting for his life in ICU and we hope he recovers well. However, men at the social media desk of Bangalore Mirror wanted to get more visitors and shares and likes and follows and what not – so a plain report detailing the incident wasn’t enough. The social media link came with the following blurb while the article didn’t have a single mention of ‘Patna‘-

“Shocking! Is Bengaluru the new Patna?”

Now, how much of the comparison is true/untrue is something I will leave to the sensibilities of the readers. It’s not very difficult to bring up a comparative study of crime rates of Indian cities. However, there is no denying that the introductory note to the article was in utterly poor taste and a vulgar visage of sensationalism. However, many of the readers chose to react to this mockery of journalism in a way that surprised me. While I had expected an unfortunate bickering between Bangaloreans and Patnaites because of Bangalore Mirror’s hara-kiri, I found something that must have made the social media rookies at BM chew their own feet.

Following are a few comments that we have chosen to highlight from the article link on Facebook. We salute these sensible readers for showing such maturity in an age when media is trying its best to disintegrate the society.
Do let us know what you think about all of these –

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Orwell on Gandhi

To judge somebody you haven’t ever met can be a daunting task. To judge somebody on the basis of what the person has done or written can be a miscarriage of fairness. Political heroes or villains are primarily judged in time by their actions in public view and their writings if available. This is to say for commentators who haven’t met the person. How your actions are judged depends largely on the media of the time as well.

If I may, I would point you to the essay – ‘Reflections of Gandhi‘ by George Orwell. Why? Because his observations are as objective as they can get. In my opinion the essay stands out for a couple of things –

1. As the title suggests, the essay is indeed a reflection on Gandhi. The observations are so fluidly presented that it often feels like Orwell is talking to himself oblivious of our presence around him. He is not a great fan of Gandhi, neither is he a hater who can’t see beyond the aesthetics of the man. This puts him in a unique position.

2. Through his other essays, his hatred for any kind of imperialism is quite evident. However, since he knew the British ways too, he could look at Gandhi from the other side of the fence and was still in harmony with the dreams of free India that Gandhi nurtured.

George Orwell wrote his essay on Gandhi in 1949, a year after he was dead. He derives most of his ideas about the man – Gandhi from his autobiographical work My Experiments With Truthand other articles Mr Gandhi wrote for the press of the time. Mr. Orwell himself having lived a few years in the colonial Indian subcontinent, had a fair awareness of the situation back here. In addition, he was a prominent political observer and commentator of the time and hence must have judged Mr. Gandhi via his actions, interviews, and media interactions. What Mr. Orwell has written about Gandhi is of paramount importance and has been rightly placed at No 2 in the list of Greatest essays of Orwell as judged by Pulitzer prize winning writer Michael Hiltzik. The commentaries in our own country over Gandhi have been largely either biased highly in favor of the man or extremely against him. The Marxists and the so called Ambedkarites can’t contain their hatred for the man. The Indian National Congress though has nothing in common with the original Gandhi, is religiously exploiting the last name that they actually got from Mr. Feroze Ghandy (Do not get surprised here, many actually believe Mahatma Gandhi and present Gandhi scion are related.). If Mahatma Gandhi had the copyright to the surname Gandhi and had actually disallowed the usage of it, Mr. Rahul Gandhi would have been called Rahul Ghandy today and Mahatma Gandhi could have been spared some unfair posthumous embarrassment. The BJP has been trying to appropriate Mr. Gandhi in its own way and have been quite successful in leaving congress with nothing but shrill calls of ‘He-Is-Not-Yours’ and ‘You-Are-The-killers-Of-Gandhi’! This was not entirely unexpected given the predilection of the Congress party over the surname rather than the Gandhian way of life and politics. When you don’t feed your dog well, some day your neighbor will!

 

One important question that I have asked myself is whether the essay is prejudiced. Largely no, but there are enough signs of prejudices to be detected by any reader who has followed Orwell and his life for some time. Orwell’s own lifestyle has an effect on the essay and at times he digresses for the sake of satirical declarations that are hallmarks of his writings. However, such utterances are rare and the piece remains rational for the most part.

Orwell goes on to ponder upon the extent to which Gandhi was responsible for India’s freedom and counts many reasons that could have been responsible. He doesn’t give a judgement and says – “But if, by 1945, there had grown up in Britain a large body of opinion sympathetic to Indian independence, how far was this due to Gandhi’s personal influence? And if, as may happen, India and Britain finally settle down into a decent and friendly relationship, will this be partly because Gandhi, by keeping up his struggle obstinately and without hatred, disinfected the political air? That one even thinks of asking such questions indicates his stature.

Orwell would have celebrated his 113th year on 25th June had he been alive. His bio headline is perhaps a signature to the eccentricity of his life – Born in Motihari, Bihar and Died in London, United Kingdom. Mr. Orwell has been one of my favorite writers for some time now and Mahatma Gandhi will remain a Hero I shall admire all my life. Though they might stand diametrically opposite to each other on the clocks of life and lifestyle, both of them had their own fallacies. However what they achieved in one lifetime makes the fault-lines almost invisible. My only regret is that while I can read and decide what Orwell thought of Gandhi, I have no way of knowing what Gandhi thought of him. I wonder what took Mr. Orwell so long to write about Gandhi. Sometimes it needs a death to trigger those thoughts that we keep pushing to the next day. Sadly, Orwell didn’t live much longer either. He passed away in 1950. I would have wished him a few more happy years for his life on his birthday.