Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lights; Camera; Politics! (from Chapati Mystery)

I've been a part of some interesting discussions on cinema and politics on Chapati Mystery recently: check out this thread, and this one.

On a third thread, in response to Conrad Barwa's comment on Eklavya: "....in this context, since I discussed films at length with Qalander on the previous thread, I must mention the uncomfortable casteist undercurrent to the Hindi film “Ekalayva” where Amitabh Bachchan’s character plays the eponymous hero, who is a loyal and sacrificing bodyguard to a Rajput royal family – the implications of service and sacrifice are clear as is who is meant to be doing the serving and the sacrificing and who benefits from these actions."

I wrote the following:

"Superb example, and completely agree — but, while Vinod Chopra doesn’t execute the film very well, you omitted to mention the subversion here (for those who haven’t seen the film, spoiler alert): by film’s end, the whole symbolism of Rajput patriarchy has been turned on its head, with the royal having been revealed as impotent, and the subservient servant the real father who, by impregnating the queen, continues the royal bloodline. The royal house in this film lives in a ghostly palace that seems like nothing so much as an anachronism, and the message is clear: India after the maharajahs belongs to Eklavya, not to the royals he serves. Lest anyone think I am reading too much into this, consider Sanjay Dutt’s brief cameo in the film: he is the “lower caste” cop who is investigating the murder at the palace, and his sneering demeanor towards the royals, his refusal to give them any deference, is in marked contrast to the attitude of Amitabh’s Eklavya. And his only “hero” at the palace is the lower-caste Eklavya — NOT any of the royals (memorably illustrated by a dialogue that is unusually blunt for a multiplex-friendly Hindi film: “Agar Eklavya-baba nahin hote na, to is haveli ki taraf mooth-ta bhi nahin” (”If it weren’t for Eklavya, I wouldn’t even piss in the direction of this mansion”))."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am simply amused, amazed, annoyed and frankly disgusted with tha comments of Conrad Barwa- and the likes.
they do not want uniform civil code, do not want equal rights for muslim women but they want a muslim friendly ( which in their fu…. mind is any party who is anti hindu) party.
Talks about PAC in UP, sala I am from UP, the mob burned alive 18 people at my dad’s place , ruined us financially, I had to be pulled out of the boarding scholol,PAC could not do a thing. Indira Gandhi came and visted only the Muslim Victims of riots.
This reinforces my belief that we need a party like what used to be a good BJP ( before they got power and became like congress to look after the interest of Hindu middle class.
varna- kuch ko church le jayenge, kuch ko Nadita Das jaise log baja denge.
Yeh log Liberal naam kee aad mein sirf Muslim interest dekhne wale log hain !!
Have they ever seen or talked of how life is in the dense mohallas of Mulslims- they have open display of Pakistani flags, Madrasas are built with so much pomp and show that if even if half the money spent on building those aleeshaan madarsaas was spent on helping the poor muslims- it would do wonders.
Baithe hain apne gharon mein ek Grouse liye ke sahab ham par bahut atyachaar huen hain !!Hindus sirf Naam kee majority hai, they are so divided betwen castes and regions that the real benefit is being reaped by the “Majority within the Minority ”
Jo haal Mulims ka India mein hai, uske liye woh khud zimmedaar hain, India has only given them the BEST, if inspite of the best they are not being able to modernise and flourish to fir Kamee within Khojo bhai.
Quit blaming BJP and filmstars or ordinary people supporting BJP.
Phew- Now I feel better !! LOL !!

Jai Hind !!

sm said...

First, Qalandar, welcome back!

On the topic of Ekalavya, I wonder if both you and Conrad Barwa are unaware of the original Ekalavya story from the Mahabharata. The point of that story is indeed that Ekalavya is a "low caste" -- whatever that means, because the story has since been co-opted by various oppressed groups in India to represent their plight. Now while the Dalits, for instance, use this story as proof that Brahmins have always historically oppressed Dalits (forgetting that it is the Kshatriya Arjun who really felt threatened by Ekalavya), it can also be interpreted as proof that there is no barrier to what even a "low caste" member can achieve if he puts his mind to it. But I haven't seen this interpretation anywhere. As for the film, its ending, as you point out, is making the larger point about social equality.