Monday, February 25, 2008

cosmopolitian bombay

The images of people of north indian origin leaving pune and other towns of maharashtra brought back the memories of bombay, once again. it has been two decades since i left bombay but the images that i want to associate with the city are mostly pleasant. every colony is a microcosm of india. the diversity that is bombay extends to the schools and colleges. the differences hardly mattered to us while growing up in the metro. having friends from all over had its own advantage. a punjabi classmate, who incidentally quit college after the anti-sikh riots of 1984; a few marwari friends i walked home with and one day ended up visiting their temple; a parsi who took pride in his identity and many more. each and everyone of them has added to my rich storehouse of experience and i am glad that i had this opportunity.
it obviously makes me sad, very angry to see the visuals of North Indians being harassed and forced out of their 'homes'. bombay is the home to all those who have come for a better life, whether from other parts of the state or the country. when one starts differentiating and dividing on the basis of 'we' and 'them' it bodes ill for the nation as a whole. what angered me more was the lack of steps taken by our national politicians to put an end to this divide. if it succeeds in maharashtra today, can karnataka be far behind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

rewriting history

i once saw a movie in which a man gets to go back in time and change the events so that the present can be suitable for his needs. so if one wants to change the way things are today- tweak at history. one gets the feeling that Ashitosh Gowarikar has tried, over did it in Jodhaa Akbar. the movie is a version of the history that the director wants to amplify. it comes off as too clinical to be true. the versions of history one is used to doesn't help in accepting Gowarikar's version without doubting the authenticity. the objective is appreciable, though ill conceived and some times overdone.
there is no doubt we require to change for the better- more understanding of other communities is desirable in today's context. but one cannot comprehend the ways- Mera Bharat Mahan set of short films in the 90s and today Jodhaa Akbar. interestingly, while watching the movie one gets a feel of the rigid polarization in society- one spectator shouted 'ab pata chala' to a exclamation by Akbar on hearing about taxes on Hindu pilgrimages. it drives home the point that there is a undercurrent of suspicion and maybe even hatred of the other community. the qawalli was taken as a big joke by a group of college students who laughed and made fun of the tradition. rewriting history has been tried before, by the state. now it is the turn of individuals for nationalistic reasons, of course. an insight into the cultural practices of the others will obviously make for a better understanding and appreciation of diverse groups in society but by blatantly tampering with history (again, even for a just cause) may just backfire.