Monday, January 18, 2010
देश के नौजवानों, गौर से देखो इस तस्वीर को और हमारी नसीहत याद रखो कि हमें इस बात से कोई लेना देना नहीं हैं कि तुम अपने काम में दक्षता रखते हो और तुम्हारे बल-बूते पर ही हम अपनी पीठ भी ठोका करते हैं. तुम यह कैसे भूल सकते हो कि तुम एक महान लाल फीता शाह देश के निवासी हो जहां पर तुम्हारा अस्तित्व तुम्हारे आकाओं की कृपा पर निर्भर करता है. इस लड़के को देखो, यह सोचता है कि अपने ढंग से काम करके यह हमारे लिए फिर वैसा ही कमाल कर दिखाएगा जैसा इसने दो साल पहले उस देश में जाकर किया था जिसके हाथों रणभूमि में आधी सदी पहले पराजित हो कर हम शर्मसार हुए थे. इस नादाँ को यह समझना चाहिए कि शर्म का एहसास हम लोगों को अपनी सुविधा के अनुसार होता है. और हमें सबसे ज्यादा शर्मिंदगी होती है काबिलियत से. काबिलियत हमें अपने खुद के नक्कारापन से रुबरु कर देती है जो कि हमारे लिए नाकाबिल-ए-बर्दाश्त है. इसलिए हमसे काबिलियत की बात तो करो ही मत. और यह भी याद रखो कि तुम यदि केवल अपने काम में बेहतर प्रदर्शन के लिए कानून तोड़ने की बात करोगे तो सज़ा भुगतोगे. हाँ, आका बन जाओ तब कानून तोड़ो, चाहे जितना मर्ज़ी हो. कोई तुमसे सवाल नहीं करेगा. आगे से याद रहे, तुम्हारा पाला एक ऐसे तंत्र से पडा है जो कुक्कुरधर्मिता में विश्वास रखता है. सिंह का चरित्र रखोगे तो ऐसे ही रौंद दिए जाओगे.
धमकियों और लानत-मलामतों के साथ,
Sunday, January 17, 2010
"Rocket Singh -Salesman of the Year" is a deceptively titled gem. I call the title deceptive because it gives the impression of a laugh riot, a sort of comic fairy tale where the hero achieves success despite, or rather because of, his naivete and simplicity. There are sequences that evoke laughter, no doubt, but they hit you hard instead of tickling you. I feel compelled to commit the blasphemy of comparing director Shimit Amin with the likes of Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Basu Chatterjee. These maestros of yore had helped Hindi cinema beautifully bridge the gap between entertainment and realism. In his own way, with ample help from scriptwriter Jaideep Sahni, Amin reminds us of the giants of the 1970s and 1980s by telling a story wherein the Indian middle class makes an authentic comeback. It is ironical that the middle class, despite being the target audience, has rarely been portrayed realistically in movies of the recent past. Amin and Sahni, who had earlier collaborated to come out with the unconventional "Chak De India", have this time performed the miracle of portraying mundane characters and events with a remarkable freshness. They deserve praise for showing the courage to have as their protagonist a sardar, who is totally at variance with all the stereotypes of this community. He is neither a macho patriot, nor a buffoon mechanic or taxi driver nor a dimwit head of a family whose members seem to be competing with him in terms of stupidity. Harpreet Singh Bedi is a quintessential boy-next-door with ambitions and concerns all of us can relate to. He is gifted with no exceptional talents, but is, nevertheless, a man of courage and persistence and also a strong sense of ethics. Through his eyes, we get to see the corruption and depravity that pervades the corporate world, a worrying reality of our times, which has not found as much expression in our films as the other great social malady - political corruption. We get to see the ugly side of the much-extolled corporate ethics, which believes that end justifies the means. The end here refers to maximising profit and means range from bribery to jobbery. The distraught young man tries to blow the whistle and to his horror discovers that it was nothing short of a cardinal sin in the eyes of his employers. The distraught sardar is asked by his friends to change the job as he was too nice for the evil system. However, he displays a heroic resilience and refuses to give up. Realising that the evil was widespread and that mere change of job need not necessarily bring the elusive happiness to his life, he looks deep within and also takes a hard look at his surroundings. This makes him realise that even amidst the all-pervading cynicism, people do crave for sincerity, honesty and trustworthiness. He also gets to understand that the brutality of the system was in no small measure responsible for the unscrupulousness in their nature.
Monday, January 11, 2010
There is nothing new in movies being inspired from works of fiction. However, rarely do celluloid versions surpass the books on which they are based. 3 idiots is one such rare instance. Due apologies to Mr Chetan Bhagat who is already sulking over the insufficiency of the “credit” he has been given by the makers of the film. He is bound to cringe upon hearing that the movie has turned out to be even more riveting than his debut novel which, to be fair, was not an uninteresting piece at all. Leaving aside comparisons, one would add that dissimilarities between the movie and the novel far outnumber the similarities. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Rajkumar Hirani, who made no little impact with his “Munnabhai” series, has delivered what has so far been his best.
The movie is much more than a critique of Indian education system. It does criticize the system but does not tie itself into knots by suggesting an alternative model. It however, exhorts one to dare to be different. It encourages people to be, as the famous 1980s song had put it, “just a man and his will to survive”. The protagonist Rancho, played by Amir Khan, is a non-conformist but not a Hippie-style rebel. He has his own convictions and defends his friends’ right to have theirs. He is courageous enough to question and the pedantic style of his teacher in the classroom of his engineering college and irreverent enough to accost the boss of the institution whose rebuke drives a hapless student to suicide. His uniqueness does not make him a misfit. Instead, his malleability endears him to all and helps him survive the sniggers of those who disapprove of his ways. His ability to imagine and improvise helps him perform tasks that win the hearts of his worst critics and his most bitter rivals. His infectious vivacity rubs on his close friends who gather the courage to follow their hearts instead of treading the beaten track. He succeeds in convincing his friends, and the viewers as well, that if you tell yourself “all is well”, you get the courage to face your problems head-on even if not the ability to solve them. In an era when we, as Oscar Wilde had said “know the price of everything and the value of nothing”, he reaffirms the supremacy of “excellence” over “success”.
There is something magical about Hirani. He weaves a tale of improbabilities with an aplomb that compels the viewer to suspend disbelief. Can it be possible for a rich brat’s gardener to go to an engineering college bearing his name and getting a degree with that fake identity? Is it really possible to escape the humiliation of ragging by playing a nasty trick upon seniors hell bent upon bullying the freshers? Can one survive, let alone come out with flying colours, in an institute for four years after saying and doing everything that is close to the bone of teachers? There are many such episodes which appear absurd only when one has finished watching and is equipped with the wisdom of hindsight. The absurdities escape the incredulity of the viewer while the movie is being watched. And this is its biggest strength. Hirani did it in “Munnabhai MBBS” which saw the protagonist infusing life, and hence compassion as well, into a medical college and hospital in a way that was too silly to be true. He has repeated the magic with even greater success. Full marks to Mr Amir Khan who has played a character half his age with the conviction that only he is capable of. Compared with Khan’s act, how incongruous Rajendra Kumar and Jeetendra were when they played college-going characters in their hey day. Efforts of Madhavan and Sharman Joshi too need to be acknowledged. They were not playing their age either. They have got into their roles without displaying the frustration that comes while playing second fiddle to a more celebrated co-star. Omi Vaidya is a really good find while Boman Irani once again demonstrates his finesse at playing ruthless eccentricity. Dialogues are brilliant for which Hirani shares the credit with Abhijat Joshi. The musical score may not be of the best quality but Swanand Kirkire truly deserves a pat on his back for so beautifully capturing the various moods of the film, especially “give me some sunshine” and “behti hawa sa thaa wo”. Those who have not yet watched it are missing something of real value. So hurry!