U for Untouchable

Ok by now,all of you know about my lazy nature.I am quiet lazy while picking up any book,but when I do….i read them wholeheartedly.I believe in good books and they should be small in number.I am a voracious reader,but few have left any mark on my cognitive texture.I will be speaking about one such book today.

People say don’t judge a book by its cover, but I say there is an effect at least by its cover page.While visiting a reputed book shop in Bengluru near Majestic Bus Terminus,I came across a Penguin book with an image of dark skinned Indian teen dressed in traditional Indian apparel.That sort of cover picture was unusual..not at all attractive.Well the book talks about a single day in a life of a sweeper boy..(quiet unusual for a novel narrative).

The cover picture..which caught my attention.
The cover picture..which caught my attention.

Yes I am speaking about UNTOUCHABLE by Mulk Raj Anand.Written during pre independenceera..the novel is so hardhitting that you wonder whether it is a fiction or a real life documentary.WellAnand is himself a social crusader and his work is a treatise against social evil.The protagonist is Bakha , a sweeper boy cleaning human dirt.Anand focusses on a single day of his dark life,whole lives in the pre independence era, as a Bhangi (one who clean toilets). Bakha is not weak, where he is strong and able-bodied. He is all enthusiastic and has his own set of dreams. His dreams vary from to dress like a ‘Tommie’ (Englishmen) in ‘fashun’ to play Hockey.He is deprived of social rights,he is deprived of basic human rights. The novel also deals with an incident where his sister Sohini, is molested by a Purohit..a priest. Bakha protest strongly. He is young but he is so matured.But even lower class Dalit like him should not protest,because they were mere dirt.

They were subhumans.. The ‘dirty’ nature of their work pulls down‘bhangi’s to the last of the table of casts. They were not permitted even to take water from a well and had to wait for hours for the mercy of the upper caste. The food will be given to them by throwing and if they touch anybody by accident they will be punished. Even if they are ready to pay, nobody will teach them. The upper class however doesn’t find this untouchability when they molest their teen girls. It is a typical day in the life of the Bhangi, mixed with hunger, hope, small pleasures, insults and set backs. Add to all the problems, they have no right to protest or express their emotions!! Anand is so real ,that I could literally see Bakha’s plight in front of me. The Cover picture is surely of some one like Bakha,so much of pain,so much of physical and mental labour,yet the determined JAWS makes you feel,he is a real HERO.His statement shows so much of anger and the wiilingness to rebel.

“They think we are mere dirt, because

We clean their dirt.”…..(Bakha)

The novel describes some similar incidents,the relationship between Bakha and his father has been well painted.His relationship with Muslim,with Barrack people,gives the novel a different dimension.

The time belonged to Gandhiji,he is a non fictional character in this novel,who appears in the end. He addresses a crowd about ‘Harijans’. Bakha seemed to be attracted towards Gandhi’s speech.

Not only that Anand touches upon the theme of religious conversions in a subtle manner.Anand showcased the evils of Caste system in Hinduism.He have dealt brilliantly with the postcolonial concepts like ‘Other’, ‘Subaltern’ , Exploitation, Resistance, Mimicry.

Mulk Raj Anand considers that the caste system can only prevail with the job one carries and the easy way to remove it is to upgrade the work environment and bring dignity to each work. We have no right to downgrade any work.

The novel simply shook our conscience. The author criticizes the social injustice with his powerful words. He rips apart the hypocrisy of the powerful. Meaninglessness of worship and its uselessness when it is not practiced is stressed. The book is also a small reminder of ignorance of strength by the lower caste and the need for moral rejuvenation. Above all, ‘any social revolution should be practical’ is another message the book manages to convey.

There is another strong message I felt from the novel. Most of the problems of India were self created. The British could rule India only because the masses were not seriously disturbed by their presence. In the novel, the protagonist is not fearful of the British. This view only reiterates the conclusion that political freedom alone will not solve human misery.

The novel is an example of social weapon against social evil,this is one of the classics in Indian English Literature.The theme of Untouchabilty is age long,and still prevailing. I strongly recommend this book,a simple narrative but a brilliant depiction of the Subaltern Hindu community.

K for Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se

K for Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se(2010).A historical flick from the very talented Ashutosh Gowariker.The same director who gave us World Class Period films like Lagaan and Jodha Akbar.Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Se is a cinematic adaptation of a Manini Chatterjee book known as ‘Do or Die-The Chittagong Uprising 1930-34’.As usual Ashutosh delivered a classic piece of art…excellent screenplay,engaging performance from the cast and above all brilliant direction from the man himself.It tells the story of the brave revolutionary Surya Sen from Bengal and his band of revolutionaries who dared to struck the British force in Chattagram(Read Chittagong ..presently in Bangladesh).It is one of the glorious chapter of armed revolution in India’s freedom struggle.Those who have read the Indian history,are well aware of Surya Sen’s daring attempt to ransack the British armoury of Chittgong,Ashutosh tells the exact tale in an astounding manner.While most of the Bollywood director were busy showing the exploits of Shaheed Bhagat Singh(only Legend of Bhagat Singh and Manoj Kumar’s Shaeed were noteworthy,rest were trashes)..Gowariker ventured into the unexploited genre …where a group of teenagers want their football ground back from British…and Surya Sen along with Ganesh,Nirmal want their motherland back.All the action scenes were brilliantly executed,hats off to the production design….most importantly Asutosh did not distort history for the sake of cinema.Abhishek Bacchan,Deepika Padukone,Sikander Kher were brilliant…so was Sohail Sen’s music.One of the best cinema …honest in attempt..true to its heart.It tells us the story of the real heroes.Thank you for showcasing our history Gowariker.Sadly the film was a boxoffice dud.So what,Pyasa,Swades…all were flops..but a classic for sure.Watch it if you like great cinema,watch it to learn about our heroes…a bit lengthy..but who cares.                HIGHLIGHTS                                    1.The Hindi Version of Vandemataram.Enjoy it.               2.Towards the end,a teen revolutionary walks straight to the officer and shoot him at point blank range…moment of Euphoria.  3.Kids..relaxing under the tree  …and wondering the meaning of Vandemataram….it is director’s vision to explain the noble concept to the audience.                          4.The interview session.               5.The death scene of Nirmal Sen.      Trailer Link http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BP8wKmLRrXU

Debraj Moulick

H for Hum Aapke Hain Kaun

Hum aapke hain kaun poster

H for Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…(Who Am I To You)….the 1994 blockbuster from Bollywood…Ethereal casting,lavish production,memorable songs….and the great piece of enjoyment….a full blown family drama.One of the greatest hits ever,some people consider it as a marriage video…and for some it showed us…what we are,the value of Grihastya Jeevan.Rajshri’s film made us to value our tradition,underlined the importance of sacrifice and more importantly the significance of being together…as the Great Indian Family.Salman Khan’s portrayal of a loving brother and bubbly kiddo sishter(yes…sishter) act of Madhuri Dixit earned rave reviews.You cannot ignore the traditional bhaiya and bhabi act of Monish Behl and Renuka ji.Every character speak in their own way.For instance Anupam Kher and Satish Shah’s perfect humour acts…Laxmikant Berde as the servant have won many hearts…but the main attraction remains the linear storyline that celebrates the phrase “Being together” through thick and thin.An alien concept to the West,they embraced the film whole heartedly,an Overseas blockbuster.It celebrates the great fat Indian wedding,the child birth….and some subsequent tragic incident.Hum Aapke Hain Kaun showed us what we are,the importance of Family Values in our life.Shot mostly inside the studio..except “Mausam ka Jadu”…near Ooty,the film’s music have been raging hit….played across all the weddings…included in HMV’s Greatest Hits of Indian Cinema Songs…A film which has stood the test of time..A film for the family,by the family and ofcourse the family…Go revisit the movie again.                                   Image from the Net

Debraj Moulick