Sunday, August 17, 2014

68th Independence Day... and beyond!


                               Singham Returns…as  NaMo at the Red Fort.
“Darwaza tod do, Daya…” thunders Bajirao Singham, the Scowling Supercop. His burly junior kicks open a heavy, wooden door and voila! The bad guys are caught red handed. It is a perfectly pitched Bollywood moment from the distant 80s, when our movies stuck to linear storylines ,simplistic plots, over- dramatic dialogues, exaggerated body language, emotional outbursts and babyish plots that didn’t demand the slightest mental exertion . It is also a symbolic line that encapsulates the rage of the oppressed. The movies of that era were crammed with similar lines and scenes. There was always one larger-than-life hero, capable of single-handedly taking on hundreds of  adversaries. The hero believed in old-fashioned, traditional ‘Indian’ values, like worshipping the mother, protecting sisters, respecting elders, helping colleagues and destroying evil people. His love interest was generally incidental and played a largely decorative role. The hero invariably took on the ‘system’ at enormous personal risk. He was ready to sacrifice his own life when faced with moral issues . His  chief adversary was mostly  one- dimensional and heavily armed. The hero’s levels of personal pride were second to none. It was ‘izzat’ he lived for. ‘Izzat’ he died for. ‘Izzat’ was all that mattered. It goes without saying, this mythical hero always won in the end…. no matter how daunting the odds.
Bollywood was missing this brand of stereotypical herogiri for a while. Indian audiences had started to stray. Some movies featured clever canines in title roles. Others had masked men in harness fighting gravity and logic. The ‘weepie’ was virtually dead. And the high -pitched amir-garib confrontation that got all the taalis, had been replaced by amir-amir romances featuring Bollywood bachchalog of the third generation  ( some with talent, most without). With Singham Returns, the blockbuster formula is back with a bang. And the timing couldn’t have been better. Let’s call this a double dhamaka weekend for viewers. The action in both mega productions was superbly staged by technical teams that understood the mood and pulse of the nation. While one portly hero, wearing a tri-coloured turban dominated  television channels across India, delivering  catchy lines from the ramparts of the historic Red Fort, another flexed his coiled-oiled muscles dressed down in a spotless white ‘ganji’. The message embedded in both performances was exactly the same : Mein leta nahin, deta hoon. Roughly translated : I don’t take, I give. The give-and-take as exemplified by Bajirao Singham  is in the larger interests of society. Each time Ajay( Singham) Devgn, utters that line in the film, audiences clap as if on cue.  It is obvious an emotional chord has been struck… and successfully exploited. There is hope for India, after all.
Since dare devilry and fearlessness play such key roles in the projection of superheroes, it is significant that Narendra Modi – the Singham of  Politics – shunned a bullet proof screen while addressing the nation on Independence Day. Since nothing he does is divorced from design, one can safely assume, it was a calculated decision to project courage and confidence. Analysts will describe it as a shrewd if fool hardy move. President Barack Obama is seen as a pretty smart  world leader  -  but even he doesn’t deliver public speeches without mandatory protection and top security in place.
Narendra Modi’s speech has been deconstructed and decoded to death by experts. The hidden meanings have been unearthed and analysed by those in search of deeper agendas. The wah- wahs for going extempore on such a significant occasion , are still pouring in. Professionallyy trained theatre artists are known to work hard on monologues. But even by their exacting standards, a one hour, six minutes monologue is one hell of a challenge. Modi, like Singham, conclusively proved he’s the boss, while pressing all the right buttons (“ I come from a poor family…and here I am addressing the country from the Red Fort’’). By displaying concern and respect for the women of India, he won over millions of female hearts. Bracket ‘women’ with ‘izzat’ and you get two buzz words that are at once inclusive and emotive. If Singham took  an ‘aie shappat’ (“ I swear on my mother’) and followed that up with a ‘vardi ki kasam’ (“ I swear on my uniform”), when he vowed to  vanquish enemies, Modi  too, didn’t lag behind in the promises he made for a stronger and safer India.
At a time when connectivity is the key, it can be safely declared that the Prime Minister succeeded in socking his message to the waiting nation, preferring to stick to a chatty, avuncular approach, using uncomplicated analogies and easy-to- get , easy-to-digest , bite-sized , home grown platitudes. No grand flourishes, no poetry, no high-flown lines. Much like Bajirao Singham. Let’s hope Narendra Modi takes the next logical step forward and translates these good intentions into real action… without stripping down to his ganji, of course.

 “Darwaza Tod Do, NaMo!” Or else, it will be the people of India who will be vociferously protesting, “Aata Majhi Satakli!”
                                                         ***************

                         Modi woos the women of India…
The single most important takeaway from Narendra Modi’s premier Independence Day speech was the concern shown for the safety of  our women. Perhaps, for the first time in India’s 68- year-old history, a Prime Minister devoted a reasonably large chunk of  his bhaashan to the importance of  dealing with one of our society’s biggest blights – rape. There will inevitably be critics / cynics who will say that  the ugly, nasty word (rape) does not belong to such a closely watched, over analysed, historic address, delivered from the ramparts of the Red Fort, by a newly elected leader of  125 crore citizens. I would argue it was high time a neta had the guts to raise this diabolical issue on precisely such a vital platform. For, if we refuse to acknowledge its deep and tragic impact on our lives, we too will be guilty of perpetuating the shame. Significantly enough, Modi transferred this very ‘shame’ to those who perpetrate the crime – men. And urged families across India, to sensitise their menfolk to its ghastly implications… starting with boys in the household. Modi urged families to “question their sons, not daughters.” Articulating such a sentiment in a patriarchal society like ours is nothing short of radical. Nobody is India ‘questions’ a son! A beta is believed to be above and beyond reproach – no matter what crime he commits. This deeply entrenched attitude is not restricted to rural communities. Look around you… there are any number of  people in your own family… your neighbourhood, who might be shocked that such a preposterous suggestion was made in the first place. Modi took a gigantic risk when he went into this tricky territory. He took another, equally major  risk when he brought up the topic of toilets for women in our villages…. and  underlined the urgency of building  separate toilets for school/ college girls .
Having tabled his concerns , and expressed  sincere anguish, it is hoped Modi will swiftly do something about both issues. I wish he had announced concrete measures towards rape redressal, for example. That would have been far more reassuring, meaningful and substantive, than the big noises made from the podium. Let’s hope Modi’s government follows up the rhetoric with real reforms and focused guidelines. He had talked about zero tolerance for crimes against women during his Lok Sabha address months ago. And then withdrawn from the arena, while rapes continued unabated. While a traumatized nation waited for immediate and stern action against rapists, there was just a frustrating and stony silence from Modi. His non-committal stand disheartened those who had expected more from him at that critical juncture.On  Independence Day, Modi tried to make up for the lapse by emphasizing the issue, and placing it alongside other national priorities. Modi finally gave rape the importance it deserves.  It is upto citizens from this point on to monitor whether or not his speech will translate into an immediate action  designed to tackle India’s monumental stigma on a war footing. If Modi succeeds in making women feel safer, he will win over the hearts of millions. And if he does indeed convert our medieval thinking that unfairly protects and favours sons, he will go down in history as the architect of a major cultural revolution.
 The Badaun incident must have been that much needed, overdue wake up call for Modi’s government.Badaun represents the sum total of all that Modi referred to –  a lack of toilets for rural women, lack of basic security, lack of awareness, and a lack of accountability. Modi also mentioned the creation of 800 model villages. Great concept. We can do it. But more than building these model villages and giving ‘izzat’ to the poor, what India needs to do on a war footing is create model mind sets. Model thinking. Model communities. Even someone as charged up as NaMo will find that a far more daunting task to  tackle.
If even a single mother (or father) starts to think more deeply about bringing up a better son after listening to Modi’s speech, it will be a major triumph. If even a single rape is prevented because of his message, it will be his biggest contribution to transforming India.
As a man who qualifies as a ‘half husband’, Modi is stuck with a double responsibility towards the women of our country. We are watching! A promise has been made in public. Keep it! There are over a billion witnesses. Deliver… or else!

45 comments:

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Curb me said...

You are the single-most, powerful voice for women. The real question is: How can we get this message across to bus drivers, balding politicians/high level executives, uneducated animals, who don't understand the meaning to the word Respect.

vishalbheeroo said...

A powerful take on PM Modi Bhashan. Let's hope that it's not fizz but translated into actions.

Latha said...

This govt gave visa to the writer Taslima Nasreen (which the minority appeasing previous govt never did) which is a positive step. Let's hope that the same sensitivity will be shown to the women of this country by fast tracking rape cases & delivering speedy justice. The RSS has to have a political will to give priority to women's issues. Remember we are 49%(despite all the female foeticide), no less than men in any thing in any way.

vikram suryawanshi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vikram suryawanshi said...

wow..........u started wid singham and ended with such a impactfull thoughts..........i really liked ur article, reading something like this makes me believe that india is reforming

Kartik Mehta said...

giving it a POLITICALLY INCORRECT and sigham style headings, well proves that u lack intellect of any kind, since the speech was no where such, but amazing positive one, but certainly a person like u, who had praised rahul gandhi's intelligence , well one thing is sure that ur success as the good writer , well it has lots of doubt and hidden mystries, since u lack intellect to write anything. i think u should stop writing articles, since even those who believe u have some intellect , will know the truth. and ya u r free to delete comment, since truth will hurt ur ego. since u have stopped people commenting on times website and rest other place, this also shows real u, that there's nothing good, just u have been a lucky dumb person.

Nirnaami said...

///If even a single mother (or father) starts to think more deeply about bringing up a better son after listening to Modi’s speech, it will be a major triumph///

You said it. Very powerfully written by Shobhaa De.

Ashwini Sane said...

M'am, read the same in TOI. It was very 'Vintage Shobha De' writing! Liked it.

Suresh Mandan said...

Are there any heroes in real life as you found in Singham returns.How many people really do any sacrifice. How long people of India will live in fantasy and how long the producer/directors will make such films which are just an"entertainment" only.Why we do not want to face the reality.Why do we always want to go to watch a film just for the sake of entertainment?

Sandhya Avasthi said...

just loved reading your article:)

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Latha said...

Look at the naamard Arun Jaitley's remark ? Norbhaya's case is a small issue for him & he is only bothered about the billions of foreign exchange lost because tourism has been effected by this "small incident". Women in the north do not have brains. They deserve this for voting for the BJP. At least let them know that this govt is going to nothing for women & have some sense to vote for AAP in the coming elections. Otherwise let them go through these small incidents & learn to treat them as such. This Govt has made it very clear that women's issues do not matter to them at all. Arun Jaitley's remark is not "a slip of the tongue" trivialised by the BJP trolls planted everywhere in the social media to use filthy language & bark at everybody who even dares to slightly point out their mistakes. This is the filthy attitude of the RSS towards women. The sick psychopathic "Manu Smriti" attitude to put her in place by ignoring her existence & her problems whatever her contributions may be. This attitude of the RSS trained ruling party is very worrying for women. Modi has made it very clear that he has nothing to do about this matter & the onus of rape is on the women. They have to control their boys. No plans to have special courts to fast track rape cases & dispose of the pending cases, no clear procedure to launch an FIR immediately (2 finger test was conducted on the 6 year old girl from Bangalore Vibgyor school) & no plans to take steps to avoid rape & make the country safe for women. If he doing anything at all, he never spelt it out from the Red Fort. What are we supposed to think ? I know there will be trolls waiting to throw choice abuses at me. I don't care. I wouldn't be surprised if you yourself are forced to remove this comment.

NAT said...

@Latha

The truth will always prevail, shine. So please do not cow down to these demons.
We have a lot of good people in this Country that is why it is moving.
Wish they could open their mouth. Sad case of maun raat.

Review Link said...

SINGHAM RETURNS 2014 WATCH ONLINE. Movie Name : Singham Returns 2014, Story : Owing to the wrongdoings affiliated with evils similar to black money, an honest but ferocious police officer returns as the Deputy Commissioner of Police with the prospect of wiping out injustice. Category : Action, Director : Rohit Shetty, Writer : Farhad (dialogue), Yunus Sajawal (screenplay), Sajid (dialogue), Rohit Shetty (story), Actors : Kareena Kapoor, Ajay Devgn, Anupam Kher, Zakir Hussain, Released Date : 15 Aug 2014

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sneha latha said...

This cannot teach anybody anything, This can only make them think
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylRA41TZ9zU

athi said...

Lets hope he walks the talk. :)

But I am super glad someone mentioned that you need to question the boys, things that we have been yelling for years now, but finally someone with some kind of visibility and position and power saying it makes a huge difference. You are very right in saying that if at least one person learns something from this speech, it would be life-changing for a lot of people around him/her. There is nothing more powerful than words to influence people, nothing!

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