Satyagraha On Our Minds?

Chandigarh based Vijendra Trighatia is a film buff and writes extensively on cinema.

Vijendra Trighatia
A still from the film
A still from the film Satyagraha
Pt. Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi during the All-India Congress Committee session, August 8, 1942, when the “Quit India” resolution was adopted, calling for the immediate dissolution of British rule. (file photo: wiki)

The story of a corrupt polity has been on centre stage for the past few years and then some. So much so that the ad-nausem repetition of the hydra like monstrous malady has effectively deadened the sensitivity to the matter. Considering the unfathomed wile of the political class I am forced to reflect at times if this is an intentional ploy. They dare to violet us openly now and all we do is to simply cluck cluck away our disgust and run into the safe haven of our comfort zones. The magnitude of loot that unfolds with the revelation of every scam has become a number which in turn has become as much the butt of jokes as the daily “score” of innocents butchered during the heyday of terrorism in Punjab. While there is a vulgar display of open aggression by the ruling class (read Uttar Pradesh) there is a saintly defensiveness when our soldiers are beheaded on the border. The heap of crime and corruption that engulfs us with each passing day is increasingly getting inversely proportional to our reaction to the disaster that we are faced with.

So what am I cheesed off about? I have been reading the readers’ and the eminent critics’ reaction to the movie and I was amazed by one common thread. Almost without exception everybody was ranting about how the story is oh so similar to the Anna/Kejriwal’s failed effort to bring the nation together on a common issue. And how the plot is weak and the performances are powerful etc etc. Maybe I still live in the romantic stories about the freedom struggle and maybe because I have seen some politicians (in my childhood, I admit) whose white apparel was as spotless as their conscience, the movie gave me hope. It reiterated my faith in the inherent goodness of man. I refuse to be a cynic and believe that there can’t be a change. I refuse to believe “Kuchh nahi ho sakta” which, during the Anna agitation, was pompously  repeated in the comfort of so many air conditioned drawing rooms. Be it the might of the Roman Empire or the goose stepping hordes of the Nazis or the imperial powers of the west, eventually all of them crumbled into dust. And it did not happen on its own. There was the resolve of a collective will, there were individuals who sacrificed their today for their nation’s tomorrow, there were optimists who believed ! And they are among us too. They are the people who braved the sticks and water cannons. They are also those who participated in the candle lit marches. They are also those who simply wore black badges & white caps. What was their contribution? They are those who spell hope and lead me to believe that “kuchh ho sakta hai”.

Anna Hazare’s Fast at Ramlila Ground, Delhi (photo: prakash k ray)

There are enough weaknesses in Satyagraha to justify its criticism but I would watch it for a life time performance of Amitabh Bachchan. It’s amazing how he manages to raise the bar with practiced ease. And I would also watch it for the immensely rousing “Raghupati Ragav Raja Ram”. I still have goose bumps ! But most of all I would watch it because it reiterates the need to stand up.

Bahut ho gaya hai vishraam

Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram

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