There have been very few movies that have had as much influence on its genre as The Godfather. When I say influence, I am of course using the Pritamian euphemism for “provide a treasure-trove of characters, situations and set-pieces on which the carrion-feeders of Bollywood can feast on for decades as they produce one aatank (terror) after another, including a movie titled Aatank Hi Aatank”. A part of the blame for being ravaged lies with the victim itself (and how often do we hear that). So epic is Godfather’s scope, so compelling are its protagonists and so eternal its dramatic conflict that it becomes genuinely difficult to extricate oneself from its influence, even with the best of intentions.
First of all sir congratulations on becoming the Vice-President. Some may say that congratulating you for this is like congratulating eleven o’clock for coming after ten o’clock, or congratulating an apple broken from its stem for dropping to the ground or congratulating P K Nag’s sons for taking over P K Nag and Sons.
So I read your speech, the speech that you delivered to the party after your coronation…err…selection after studied deliberation by your peers in the chintan shivir.
And I noted a few things.
You said you felt optimistic. I understand why you would sir. I would too if I had a national party as a family heirloom, if I knew I would have an army of qualified courtiers watching my back, an army of guards clearing the road of commoners, and an adoring media to pump my ego. Yes. I would feel very optimistic then. About the future. My future. Which of course I would, using the royal pronoun, address as “our”.
Sometime in my very late 20s or perhaps even very early 30s, I came to the realization that most of my most critical life decisions had never truly been taken after considered deliberation, at least nothing remotely resembling the “should I this or should I that” decision-paralysis that I find myself being afflicted by before every purchase of a fairly expensive consumer durable. I studied engineering, not because I particularly wanted to or felt it was a good fit for my skill sets, but because that’s what “all the good boys do” (There was medical also, but then I found cutting toads yucky). When it came time to do a PhD in the US, I again went with the flow. All my smart friends had taken the same decision and well, all of them couldn’t be wrong. Whether five-years of poorly-paid slogging away at impossible problems aligned well with how I defined the concept of “reward”, I never gave a second’s thought. Getting married at the age of twenty-five was also something very impulsive, how impulsive I realized a few years later when the rest of the curve caught up with me and I heard stories, perhaps apocryphal, of “arranged-marriage-tours”, meeting one prospective match for lunch and one for dinner, and Excel sheets with SWOT analysis of matrimonial candidates.
As a pop-culture aficionado, I have always been intrigued by how popular media (movies, music, books) influences the way we think and act. Some of this influence is, of course, perfunctory like the “Friend” cap from “Maine Pyar Kiya” or the Amitabh-hair-cut or the Rajani goggles-move. But much of it is insidious and covert, affecting the way we reason about our world and our perceptions of that which is morally justifiable and that which is not.
Hence it is no surprise, that given the tragic incidents in New Delhi and the national conversation triggered over sexual violence in its wake, that Indian popular culture, frequently given the catch-all-label Bollywood, would be the second most popular target of blame (The first being of course the government, an even bigger catch-all-label than Bollywood).