It is a bit too late for me I am afraid. Many a pound overweight, I would be a sitting duck for sharpshooters. I also don’t have a chilling voice, am dreadfully afraid of the police and could never shoot balloons properly.
I also happened to think that murder and extortion aren’t honorable ways to earn a living.
This is of course because I was brought up that way. My parents told me what was right and what was wrong—a mistake I shall never repeat.
Movies also misled me. In the Hindi movies I used to see — the mafia leader was the unambiguous villain who would sprout some devilish “loin” lines, cavort with Mona and Sona but ultimately die in the end at the hands of the hero.
A thought that did not appeal to me. Even when the hero became a “Don” , it was because of a bad childhood, widowed mother, the need to survive—-conditions which I was, fortunately not exposed to. And even then he died at the end—a pathetic, dog-like death.
Worse than that, Ma was never on his side.
When I saw and later read the ‘Godfather” saga I was struck by the way Mario Puzo humanized the mafia but still depicted them as criminals. That is why when Michael becomes Godfather, Kay “prays for his soul”. That is why she leaves him when he finds out about his recidivism. That is also why Michael endeavors throughout his life to make his business legitimate—he is aware of the fact that what he does is not “good”. However it is his tragic destiny that keeps drawing him back to the dark side. It was these struggles between morality and expediency that made Godfather a subtly nuanced modern “Greek tragedy”.
Operative word—Tragedy. I wanted no part of it. Better to be Dr. Ashok and live happily ever after.
And then came RGV. Satya in “Satya” is bad not because of a traumatic childhood but because he simply wants to be. At least he dies in the end pathetically— forsaken by the woman he loved—a broken man.
Then came “Company” with the all-cleansing line “Ganda Hain Par Dhandha Hain Yeh” —-translating to “It’s bad but it’s just business”. Chandu (Vivek Oberoi)’s mother and love interest are absolutely fine with his career choice—–the fact that he bumps off people for a living are of no concern as long as he keeps on bringing in the money. Becoming a Mafia man is now a career choice—and judging from the fast life the characters are shown having it’s a pretty good one. But at least Malik (Ajay Devgun) dies in the end and Chandu spends his life in jail. So maybe it’s fun while it lasts but justice does catch up with you in the end.
In the next stage of evolution comes “D”. Here like Satya, the hero Deshu (Randeep Hooda) just chooses to go into the mafia because it seems profitable. His girl-friend is absolutely cool with it and actually sleeps with him because he is the Mafia. And now, at the very end, he walks away into the sunset with moolah, girl and style. The law is officially his mistress.
Wow I think to myself.
And now the final stage. “Sarkar”. Over here, we are led to believe that “Sarkar” and his family are true blue-collar heroes who impose an alternative justice system because the existing one is so corrupt. (and not because the system is corrupt because of them). They are modern day Robin Hoods—-as Abhishek Bachchan says in the movie ” My father has never harmed an innocent man in his life”.
This is what ultimately bought me over. You could be the most feared man in Mumbai by not having harmed an innocent man. Ever.
Deshu in “D” was a criminal. Sarkar here is God. And RGV wants us to believe that in a real world, someone can command “Sarkar”‘s power by not having harmed an innocent person in his life. Sarkar’s family are the good guys—his opponents (who are nothing but mirror images of Sarkar) are depicted as idiosyncratic, ugly, damaged people bordering on insanity. So now these people are the “villains” and the Mafia Don is the “hero”.
No wonder Bal Thackeray did not object to Sarkar having his mannerisms—-this is the greatest glorification of hooliganism ever seen on the Indian screen.
Of course, people will say that what RGV is showing reality.(and what old Hindi movies showed was hypocrisy). It’s a bit deeper than that— what RGV is actually doing is altering reality.
In today’s world, for good and for bad, our morals and our definition of acceptance is shaped by the media. What RGV is doing is gradually making the Mafia Don as acceptable socially as the school teacher or the milkman. Not just acceptable but as heroic as the freedom fighter.
The social stigma that perhaps prevented people from getting into this line is being slowly and surely eroded by the pervasiveness of such movies——-not accidentally but in a planned, deliberate fashion.
Which is fine. Maybe I missed the bus but my next generation surely shall not.
My grandson, one day, shall be playing squash with a Katrina Kaif lookalike while my son/daughter dispenses justice in the living room.
That will surely bring a smile on my face as I lie on the bed, hooked upto a dialysis unit.
PS I enjoyed “Sarkar”—–was very different than Godfather and the acting was good all around. The message however left me disturbed.