03 September, 2006

Munnabhai part deux

Short review - without the plot spoiler - Nice movie, which tugged a bit at the heart and more on the brain than usual (more on that below) - This time our hero, who is beginning to look old, falls in love with a twenty-something radio host and as usual, lies to get into her good books. After a lot of help from Circuit, his sidekick, and an apparition of his brain, is able to get the girl, sort out a few issues and also leave the audience wanting more as well as showing the way of living our lives in a better way. No, no - I am not being cynical here, the movie seemed exactly that to me.

The set of questions which came to my mind (and now there are more details about the plot, so dont tell me I did not warn you if you have not seen the movie yet) were somewhat like this.

In the movie, Munnabhai reads up about Gandhiji and starts having visions of him. (It is explained in the movie itself that Gandhiji who is talking to Munnahai is not real and a figment of his imagination - phew!).

First level, there was this discomfort of seeing Gandhiji on screen. He is someone whose picture is always there on walls behind ministers and police officers, but that is that. I was very worried about what the producer wanted to do with this character. Second, I was uncomfortable at some of the patronising which went on.

Gradually, I felt uncomfortable because of the questions which I then asked myself - Do I love my country? Do I acknowlege and respect the sacrifices which happened for a 100 years by an entire country to give me the free air I used to breathe (Irony of ironies - I live in England now)?

It is true that there is a sense of pride for being an Indian - for a feeling of belonging to and being a product of a great culture and history and sharing a heritage with some of these poeple. But then, what have I done to deserve it?

I know that I feel bad when something happens at the borders and when innocents die in Kashmir or Assam or Bombay. I know that I will give money for such a cause - be it army widows or war bonds. In some small way, when there is a crisis, I will try to help. But what about business as usual? I know that I have bribed ticket collectors and government clerks - speed money. I know that I turn a blind eye towards friends and family when they use their connections to get things done - small things and big things - be it a phone connection or a gas connection or a fake birth certificate.

What does one do, when one is not sure if one is of the system, by the system and for the system?

It is very easy for me to say that I am just one person and this is just too big for me to try and change anything.
Would I not thank God that Gandhiji, for one, did not think that?

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