Today, I did something I shouldn’t have done.
I watched ‘Rang De Basanti.’
Having heard rave reviews from my friends and others, I decided to give it a go.
And that’s where it all began.
Questions that had been long hidden and stashed away resurfaced. Questions to which I had avoided giving answers long back, resurfaced. Questions to which the only answers were (and had been) ‘It will always be the same’ resurfaced. And now, I find myself rejecting these answers.
It will never be the same again.
No, it is not the movie that is speaking through me. The movie is simply an excuse. These are thoughts that I have been ignoring, neglecting for a long, long time.
The movie ends with the ‘kids’ beng shot to death.
I don’t want to argue whether it was done to gain public sympathy or to show reality. I don’t care. I don’t even care if the end could have been made any different. Nor do I care if it was technically sound or not.
It hurts me to watch such movies. It hurts me to think about them. It hurts me to think about the possible consequences it might have if such an event ever transpired into reality. It hurts me to think what I would have done if I were one of the characters in the movie.
Why? Because the answer is nothing. I would have done NOTHING. Period.
Because I do not have the guts or the glory to do something like that. Because I am a coward by nature. Because, I wouldn’t. Because I am afraid of death. Because, I can’t change anything. Because I am one of us. Because I know I will forget. Because I have forgotten.
Because, I have too many excuses and not one valid reason.
What is it that drives men willingly into the hands of despair? What is it that drive sane people to such ‘insanity’? What is it that makes martyrs out of common men and treachers out of loyalists?
Is it belief in Principles? Is it belief on ethics and morals? Is it the law? Is it the system as they wold have us believe? Is it the corruption? Is it the frustration? Or is it everything in equal, or even unequal, parts? Or is it none of these but something higher or unexplored? Or is it something we see everyday but fail to notice?
What is it?
If the system has been existing since time itself, why did it take the death of a person to bring about the winds of change?
If we know the system is responsible, what have we done to prevent it from happening?
If public memory is short, why make such movies?
What do we take from these movies?
I saw Swades and appreciated it. I saw RDB and appreciated it. Sometime in the future I might see another movie and appreciate that too.
Where does it all begin and where does it all end?
What role do I have in this entire process?
Is my role that of a mute spectator watching it happen?
Is my role that of the protagonist who’s making it happen?
Is my role that of a director who’s directing it when it happens?
Is it that of a screenplay writer who charts the course to make it happen?
Is my role that of an extra who is simply there when it happens?
Where do I stand? What is my role? What is the purpose of my existence?
I believe that:
- There is an answer to every question. We just have to ask the right questions.
- That my job is to find the right questions.
Am I being too optimistic? Am I being too cynical? Am I delving into unnecessary details? Am I asking too many questions?
I know that I will forget about this entire thing withing a matter of hours. Seven hours to be precise. Seven hours later when I wake up from my nightmare-ridden sleep, I will start a brand new day with the same old routine.
No, I will not blame my routine, for it is the routine that gives me the strength, the will, the money, the time to live. I am, in fact, thankful for having a routine.
We keep telling ourselves the world need to change and shy away when the time come to orchestrate it. We will, ourselves, have nothing to do with it. We always want someone else to do it. We always want to stand at the sidelines and watch it happen.
I may not be speaking for the world here, but I speak for myself atleast.
Honesty is one thing I will not give up on until the day I die. At the same time, I do, occasionally, tell a few white lies to save my skin. Or, rather to save my time. Without those white lies, things would become unnecessarily complicated.
I do not wish to compare myself with anyone else regarding this matter. There are people better than me, there are people worse than me. Everyody is entitled to his opinion.
A discussion has no end. An argument has no end. The very fact that people are entitled to their own opinions brings about a stalemate to an argument even before it begins.
Enforcing views is dictatorship. Having opinions is democracy. Has anybody ever noticed that the most radical of all changes have happened through enforcement of views? Only in anauthoritarian state, where you are forced to follow a particular viewpoint, do people seem to progress. Is that a myth or an illusion? Or the bitter truth?
If democracy works, why do we need political parties and leaders?
If everybody is entitled to his own opinion, how do we acheive harmony in thoughts?
Opinions may and will always vary from one end of the spectrum to another. Acheiving harmony with them is simply having a common consensus. Some non-conformist elements will always stand out of the consensus. Remind me again, isn’t that what dictatorship and authoritarianism all about?
No, wait a second, dictatorship is when one man decides the consensus, democracy is when many men decide it.
But then, if each person is entitled to his own opinion, which he obviously bases on his own good, how do you decide the greater good?
On what basis? By which standards?
How do a select few get to decide what the greater good of the masses is?
If we give them the right to do so, how and why do we give them the right? Based on a few promises thay make?
We ‘exercise’ our ‘precious’ franchise, fully knowing that they will never fulfil their promises. We call them hypocrites and we blame hope for driving us. Yet, we still carry on doing the same thing. Guess who’s the hypocrite?
All of us feel that we would do a better job if we were given the authority to do so. But none of us feel the need to work towards it. The armchair critics of all generations have always made it a point to criticise and blame. None of them have ever shown any kind of resolve to sit up and take notice and change what they feel is not right.
‘But what can we do?’ is a too common refrain I often get to hear. Or sometimes, I hear the polar opposite: “We gotta do something…”
Something? Like what?
Spreading the word? Starting a revolt? Mutiny? What?
Sitting back and discussing what is to be done is not an answer. Nor is giving up the answer. Extremism solves nothing, only brings in new questions. Liberalism only hides the existing questions behind a veil of freedom. How do you determine what is right? Or what is wrong for that matter?
Where do the concepts of right and wrong fit in a democratic society where everybody is entitled to his own opinion? If you are entitled to have your own opinion and I am allowed to have mine, how do you determine what is right and what is wrong? How do you determine what is good and what is bad? How do you determine the greater good of the masses in a state, which basically denies the existence of anything polar by simply defining a concept called freedom?
What is freedom?
Is it the right to do what we want?
Is it the right to behave as we wish?
Is it the right to say whatever comes to mind?
Is it the right to roam when we choose?
Is it the right to go wherever we want?
To determine what is right, we choose to have a consensus. We choose our rights and wrongs, our goods and our bads through a common consesnsus. For example, it is wrong to bribe and it is bad to kill. Agree.
But then, who chooses these options? A select few?
What happens to those who choose their own options? Do they die off with the long tail?
If a consensus is allowed to choose right and wrong, what’s wrong with letting one man choose it? If you allow your leaders to make decisions for you, what’s wrong with letting a dictator do it?
People are scared of dictators because, dictators have been known to kill people for no rhyme or reason simply because of inherent prejudices. Yes, I am talking about the Hitlers and the Idi Amins and the Saddams. But who says there cannot be a sane dictator?
Haven’t we had rulers in the past? Forget the British Raj, don’t we accept Shivaji as a role model? Don’t we accept Akbar as just king? Haven’t we all heard tales of Solomon and Ranajit Singh? Or do we accept them simply because they are mythological figures and too unreal for us?
When does truth cross boundaries into mythology? A hundred years? Two hundred? Two thousand?
Are we being too myopic about the entire thing? Or am I hyperventilating?
If we hold opposite opinions, only one of us can be right. There can be no two ways about it.
We as a nation have long held on to irrational beliefs simply because we could. It is time to shake off all those irrational beliefs. It is time to decide what is right and what is wrong. If you as a person cannot decide, let someone else decide for you. If you do not agree to it, then reason it out and finish the argument. We need to decide and we need to choose. We have sat and discussed for too long. It is time to choose. Until we make sane, rational choices we will stay where we are.
We have, until today, chosen to stay silent. We have chosen to accept everything mutely. We have chosen to stand back and watch it happen. We have remained mute spectators all along.
I choose to be a part of the action. I choose to orchestrate. I choose to make myself heard. I choose rationality. I choose sanity. I believe that we as a people can be much better that what we make of oursleves. I choose to accept freedom as a right to life above enything else. I choose to believe in right or wrong.I choose to accept the rights, wrongs, good, and bad based on rational explantion and rational explanation only. I choose to find answers and ask the right questions. I choose to make respect a mutual affair.
I choose to believe.
PS: I gotta get myself one of those digital sound recording contraptions. Sitting down to type is something I find tedious now…